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English speech problems? How will it impact in learning foreign languages?


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My native tongue is English but I've had speech problems since I was little. I took speech classes in elementary school, but even today (I'm 21) I have a hard time pronouncing things, or I will think a word is pronounced one way and I'm completely off. My family and I often have a laugh about it when we discover a new word I've been pronouncing wrong my whole life. Like as an example, I was pronouncing chaos as how it looks for years. I'm finally getting used to pronouncing it the right way now when I come across it while reading.

So yeah, I'm not sure if the speech problems and my lack of pronouncing words correctly is related. Anyone else have this problem?

And what I'm really wondering is if it's going to be more difficult for me to learn other languages or could this just be an English thing? Like my brother says I wouldn't have this problem with Japanese because Japanese words are pronounced as they're spelled (or at least I think that was the gist of it)?

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Kate, you shouldn't let 'speech problems' influence your linguistic development. I've known people who could speak a language quite well but couldn't read it at all because the way the words are written and the way they're spoken is different.

The primary goal of learning a new language for most people is an ability to speak it. So regardless of how the words of a language are pronounced, learning to speak it shouldn't be too hard. So if you have a desire to learn a language, just go right ahead and give it a shot.

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Don't worry, I've had speech problems in elementary school, too.  Sometimes they lingered in high school and classmates would laugh at me, but I grew out of the stage where it didn't bother me anymore.  Although, I do tend to stutter during my words if someone speaks over top of me.

As for interfering with learning language, for me personally, I haven't been affected by it.  I tend to make less pronunciation mistakes when learning a new language than my native language (English).  Which might be because of speaking the language slower so I don't confuse myself.

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On the one hand, you might have some issues with pronunciation when it comes to new languages that you are learning. However, I would definitely say not to let your speech difficulties discourage you from learning another language.

With practice you will be able to pick up on the nuances, it just might be something that will take you longer than it will take some other people.

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  • 4 weeks later...

When you learn a new language you cannot focus or put emphasis on the ones that you have learnt before. If you put too much attention in being perfect in your native tongue or other languages it makes it more difficult to master the language that you are presently learning. When you have a yearning for something great never let anything deter you from reaching your goal.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I believe there would be an impact in learning other foreign languages if one does have speech problems in English. My native language is not English though, it is our second language and the pronunciation of English words in my native tongue is different from the pronunciation in American or British accent.

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Queen Isabella of Spain had a lisp. To this day, some words in Castillian Spanish honor her in the imitation of her speech problem :wink:

It not only sounds like an English-only thing for you, but a written word only thing? If so, then perhaps Japanese would have you covered in that way, but something like French (which has so many silent extra letters in the written form) would be a challenge to write and better to learn through conversation...but you'll really never know until you try!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think speech issues can surely make it harder for the person who suffer them to actually learn a language, but mostly to be understood by others, that can take a toll on the learner's self-esteem and as a cause learning that language will become harder. 

My little niece also has speech issues, and let me tell you that she barely wants to talk now because kids make fun of her.  My sister will take her to speech therapy, but the damage is already done... her self-esteem has been destroyed by those mean kids! I don't think she'll ever be a fan of learning languages, I bet you.

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