Saturday, September 22, 2007

English and Foreign Language Teachers: Safeguard Your Voice Part 2

English and Foreign Language Teachers and Speaking Professionals: Safeguard Your Voice Part 2

When it’s absolutely essential that English and foreign language teachers, actors, politicians, singers, public speakers, sales personnel and other professionals whose voice is their fortune to constantly safeguard their speaking abilities, these additional deadly enemies of your voice need to be considered. In the first part of this article we mentioned the effects of extreme temperatures, tobacco and harsh foods. We continue now with other major voice-affecting conditions you should be aware of.

Medical Conditions

A wide variety of medical conditions can also be factors in proper care of your speaking voice and should not be ignored when you have frequent or extensive speaking including in your normal regimen. Medical conditions to consider include:

The need for constant yelling or screaming – these put an extensive strain on the voice and can cause physical damage as well. English as a foreign language teacher Oscar Jimenez says, in this regard, “When I have to raise my voice to talk over a noisy class, I get problems with my voice from having to strain to talk loudly.”

Colds, flu or throat and respiratory infections – symptoms of these can range from virtually nil through mild to severe and should be medically attended to well before a speaking engagement is considered.

Respiratory problems – anything from a minor infection, flare-up or asthma can negatively impact your ability to speak clearly and fluently, especially for an extended period of time.

Nodules, polyps and paralysis – whether of the face, neck, throat muscles or other respiratory and speech-related structures, these should be attended to by a qualified physician or therapist without undue delay.

Acid Reflux, allergies and Stress – Although acid reflux is a stomach-related condition it often causes throat problems. Allergies can heavily impact the throat’s structures and respiratory system. Stress can also cripple your ability to deliver a well-modulated oral discourse. If you are highly stressed, try several relaxation or stress-relief methods until you find at least a couple that work well for you. Then use them as needed to minimize the effects stress has on you.

Physician Guillermo Velasco, MD likewise reminds us that, “Nasal obstructions can cause an increase in mouth breathing which places a heavier load on the throat producing a higher incidence of bronchitis.”

Environmental Conditions

With the oft-polluted conditions we live in it’s a wonder we’re not even sicker more frequently than we are. Environmental factors can obviously play a huge role on our abilities to breathe, speak and even converse normally. Consider as examples, the following environmental factors like smoky, dusty and sandy environments which force us to breathe air that is filled with:


Dust – Another English as a foreign language teacher, Colin Jacobs, offers this contribution, “The first two or three weeks of the semester, dust and cold air from the air conditioning system cause me throat problems. My voice cracks or my speaking volume changes unexpectedly.”

- Sand
- Powders or chemicals
- Solvents
- Yeasts or other biological agents
- Microscopic organisms
- Chemical gasses
- Manufacturing process odors and chemical agents


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. 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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