Which is harder to improve pronunciation problems or speech disorder? I want to know your thoughts.

Every time I see someone in my class feeling worn-out, exhausted and drained about pronunciation problem, it breaks my heart. There are times when I didn’t even continue enumerating those words that I thought they should focus on. It would be like adding an insult to the injury. I know English is tough, but it doesn’t mean it is unachievable. No one really mastered it, without passing through a certain level of difficulty and hard work. Well, I have a story to inspire them.

There was a girl, who shared the same problem. She was blind about her problem until curiosity slowly sprouts in her consciousness. The girl I am talking about cannot talk straight, not even her own language. Well, she still has a little problem with it, but not as often as it used to be. She got a speech disorder and she was not able to see a doctor. She didn’t see it fit to see a doctor since she feels totally normal. She thought she just needs to practice speaking every day. “Well, it was kind of insane thing to talk alone, but it really helps”, she said.

To some people, she looks normal. Well, she can speak straight sometimes and her disorder is not really that very visible. But to those, who know her to the bone like her classmates from high school, who were very close to her, her sisters, her mom. They all know and they thought it is just who she is. At first, at a very young age, she actually does not understand why. She used to think she was nervous, but awkward she doesn’t really feel nervous. She even thinks that her nervousness shows when she speaks without even actually feeling it.

Weird, isn’t it?

Until she grew up and meet this word: SPEECH DISORDER. She stuttered. “At least not on the whole sentence”, she proudly says. She usually has a problem at the beginning of the word, especially if it starts with the /æ/ sound as in apple. I am sure that she will surely pronounce that as a-aa-aaa-ple.

“Odd!“, people say. I saw people laughing about her.

They also answered her the same way she asked. They’d say, “N-n-n-no, I was not from de-de-there” if you know what I mean.

It had been a joke for her and I pity her for those moments. But this girl is a fighter. I didn’t even see her feel bad about these jokes or maybe she just silently kills it inside her. I saw her handling these things with another joke. She has to go with the flow. It gets more peculiar when I haven’t really heard her stutter when she speaks in English. I wondered much and I asked her. She thought for a while and I saw a blank face.

She didn’t even know the reason. I just hope that one day an answer will come to her and she would be able to tell me. It took weeks before she was able to answer me and this is what she said, “because I read a lot and I read aloud and all I read is English” I have come to think of it for a while. I know that she speaks the truth.

I know.

I know because she’s me. And, yes, at first, I am mad at people who laughed at me though I don’t show that I am mad. I just get used to it. If you think English pronunciation is difficult, how much more was my problem? Think of it.

PS. I still stutter…sometimes.

Allahlea, ESL-Teacher
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