ESL/Second Language Acquisition  

Tutoring available upon request, including IELTS preparation, functional role plays, and accent reduction.

Receptive & Expressive Language

Receptive Language refers to your ability to comprehend language and follow instructions, while Expressive Language refers to your ability to convey thoughts using spoken words and sentences, gesture and writing. A breakdown in communication ability may occur following neurological events such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury.

Speech Disorders – including dysarthria and apraxia of speech (AOS)

If you have apraxia of speech (AOS) you will know what words you want to say, but your brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say all the sounds in the words. As a result, you may say something completely different or make up words (e.g. ‘chicken’ or ‘bipem’ for ‘kitchen’). You might recognize your error and try again—sometimes getting it right, but sometimes saying something else entirely. This situation can become quite frustrating.

With AOS, you may demonstrate:

  • difficulty imitating and producing speech sounds, marked by speech errors such as sound distortions, substitutions, and/or omissions
  • inconsistent speech errors
  • groping of the tongue and lips to make specific sounds and words
  • slow speech rate
  • impaired rhythm and prosody (intonation) of speech
  • better automatic speech (e.g. greetings) than purposeful speech
  • inability to produce any sound at all  – in severe cases

Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder. It results from impaired movement of your muscles used for speech production, including the lips, tongue, vocal folds, and/or diaphragm. The type and severity of dysarthria will depend on which area of your nervous system has been affected. Dysarthria is a common symptom of neurological diseases and events such as stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s disease and traumatic brain injury.

If you have dysarthria, you may demonstrate some of the following speech characteristics:

  • ‘slurred’, ‘choppy’ or ‘mumbled’ speech that may be difficult to understand
  • slow rate of speech
  • rapid rate of speech with a ‘mumbling’ quality
  • limited tongue, lip, and jaw movement
  • abnormal pitch and rhythm when speaking
  • changes in voice quality, such as hoarse or breathy voice or speech that sounds ‘nasal’ or ‘stuffy

Swallowing/Mealtime Difficulties

Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) means it takes more time and effort to move food or liquid from your mouth to your stomach. Dysphagia may also be associated with pain. In some cases, swallowing may be impossible.

Some signs and symptoms that you have a swallowing disorder may include:

  • odynophagia – pain while swallowing
  • dysphagia – unable to swallow food, drink or saliva
  • the sensation of food getting stuck in your throat or chest or behind your breastbone (sternum)
  • drooling
  • vocal hoarseness – you sound like you’re losing your voice
  • regurgitation – bringing food back up
  • frequent heartburn – a burning sensation in your chest
  • weight loss – unexpected & unwanted
  • coughing or gagging when swallowing
  • eating soft food – such as soup or puddings, avoiding certain food or cutting food into smaller pieces because of difficulty swallowing

Voice & Communication Training – trans & genderqueer communities

Being trans or genderqueer , your voice may often be at odds with your physical and social presentation. Tailored voice & communication programs programs provide strategies to help you to use your voice safely, in a discreet and warm environment.

Various aspects of communication are targeted in the program, including:

  • respiration – breath support for improved vocal quality, and exercises to facilitate a reduction in stress and anxiety
  • pitch – how deep or high your voice is
  • resonance – the quality and warmth of your voice
  • prosody – the rhythm of your speech
  • rate – how quickly or slowly you speak
  • volume – how loudly or softly your speak
  • language – including vocabulary
  • articulation – how speech sounds are produced
  • pragmatics  – the social rules of communication
  • nonverbal communication – including posture, gesture and of course…..laughter

Voice Disorders

Voice disorders are medical conditions involving abnormal pitch, loudness or quality of the sound being produced by your larynx (voice box) consequently affecting the production of speech. Signs that you could have a voice disorder may include:

  • vocal hoarseness
  • increased vocal effort
  • limited pitch range
  • limited volume range

Head to our Fact Sheets link for further information