(Y)Ears of Training

Now that I’m into writing the part of the book that is about applying the concepts and practicing the speech features, I’m going through all the materials I currently use with clients and all my past material that I created when teaching in a classroom. I’m digging through a lot of physical and digital documents and finally doing the organizing that I coulda/shoulda/woulda done over the past five years….but didn’t. It’s slow going, but I’m glad I’m finally doing it. It’s making me realize how much I’ve created over the years and I’ll be using as much as I can in the book and also posting here.

It also makes me realize how far I was stretched beyond the specific area I wanted to be in for many years. I’ve taught classes I had to teach because I had no choice and because they were similar enough to what I know about, but not exactly what I wanted to do. There’s a sense of accomplishment gained from creating a new class that wasn’t my idea to create, teaching a class someone else created that I had to grow into, and teaching a class that revealed my weaknesses and stretched my sense of capability. Those are also all the reasons I had to leave teaching in a university to do exactly my own thing.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life throughout all my years in college until my doctoral studies. That’s 13 years of indecision and three years of decision. It took all that time to finally figure out that what I really like to do and what I’m really good at is a combination of different fields of study and I was able to combine them in my doctoral studies. In hindsight, it makes sense why I wasn’t satisfied with compromising that for something similar to what I wanted to teach. The combination of speech-language pathology with teaching English as a second language, plus cognitive psychology and some theater and business communication aspects, came together to create my focus on “accent modification” or whatever that grey area is between learning English and controlling English.

That’s where I like to be, that grey area.

Going through old materials brings back memories of being in awe of my mentor, Dr. Harold Edwards, as he analyzed accented English in real time. He had his forms that he marked as he listened to students making their audio recordings. I had to listen to the recordings over and over, backing up word by word, listening to each sound again and again, and deliberating over each decision. I thought I’d never have the ears of Dr. E. but 21 years later, I think I do. I make notes about speech as I have conversations with people in consultations. I can’t turn my analytical ears off when I listen to the tv, movies, and people around me. I’m okay with that. I hear a different world than most people.

I’ve practiced for years to get these ears!

I’m extremely grateful that I am now using them the way I know they will benefit people the most and that I’m doing exactly what I want to do.