Friday, September 21, 2007

English and Foreign Language Teachers: Safeguard Your Voice Part 1

English and Foreign Language Teachers and Speaking Professionals: Safeguard Your Voice

It is absolutely essential that English and foreign language teachers, public speakers, sales personnel, singers, actors, politicians and other professionals whose voice is their fortune safeguard their speaking abilities. Can you imagine even one day at work without having a voice? How about a week “sans voice”? Could you manage a speechless month? You think not?
Then consider these front line enemies to the care of your voice.

Enemies of the Voice

The following factors can all influence and affect your voice and its qualities in a negative way. At all times possible, any and all of these factors should be avoided, eliminated or at the very least, as highly controlled as possible. See your doctor for further medical assistance with these voice-affecting factors.

Extremes in Temperature

-Drinking very hot or very cold beverages – hot coffee, tea, chocolate or toddies can burn, overheat or damage the sensitive linings of the mouth and throat

- Drinking very cold beverages – albeit refreshing to quaff, a very cold beverage on a hot day or when you’re feeling parched consider sipping your beverage, not gulping it down. Beverages that are room temperature refresh just as well without subjecting sensitive tissues to extreme temperatures

- Heating, air conditioning, drafts – these can also cause chills and rapid temperature changes to the tissues of the neck and throat

Tobacco Use

Smoking – the hazards of smoking certainly need not be expounded on here. The tars and nicotine that cigar and cigarette smoke contain have a definite negative effect on your mouth, lungs, nasal and throat passages including the larynx or voice box. These negative effects can be difficult, time-consuming or even nearly impossible to reverse in some cases

Chewing – The constant draining and flow of tobacco elements in chewing tobacco make it no better than smoking and possibly even worse due to the higher concentrations of tars, nicotine and other chemicals that may be present. Tobacco chewers often have problems with “upset stomach”.

Sniffing or Dipping – these are virtually the same as chewing tobacco and like chewing can also affect the nasal passages, teeth, gums, mouth linings and throat tissues down to and including the larynx

Harsh Foods

There are an extensive number of foods which should be avoided before, during and after a scheduled oral presentation of any kind. Foods which can negatively impact the body structures associated with speech include:

- Hard-fried, baked or extra crunchy foods – potato chips, pretzels, snacks and other baked, fried or confectionary goods

- High salt content foods – Okay, so I’m guilty, I love salty French fries and salt-cured meats, but these are definitely to be avoided anytime near a speaking presentation as they can represent a severe shock to the throat, mucous membranes and linings of the throat and mouth

- High acid content foods and drinks – Foods and drinks with a very high acidic content aren’t exactly the cat’s meow when it comes to public speaking either. This includes such favorites as lime and lemonade, sour and bitter tropical fruits and those with a very strong odor, flavor or pulp texture.


In addition to considering the above conditions in the care of your voice, pay extra attention to see a doctor, speech therapist or specialist if you:

- Have frequent cases of sore throat
- Need to “clear your throat” frequently for extended periods of time
- Experience difficulty or tiredness when speaking extensively
- Develop a persistent or heavy cough for any reason

So if you can’t imagine even one day of work without a voice, consider these suggestions for combating enemies of your speech. In part two of this article, we’ll consider some additional factors affecting your speaking ability. Take care to safeguard your voice.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail:

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