3 Tips for Learning a Language When You Have Hearing Loss
Whether you're passionate about travelling, you're interested in different cultures or you simply find linguistics interesting, learning a second language can be a very enriching journey. However, when you have hearing loss, that journey may seem as if it's paved with insurmountable obstacles. After all, given how hard it may have been to learn your first language with hearing difficulties, the idea of learning a second sounds even harder.
However, even though the road to learning a foreign language may be more difficult for you than those without hearing loss, that doesn't mean it's impossible. Here are 3 tips that will help you get to grips with your new language.
Get a Made-For-Smartphone Hearing Aid
Whether you're taking a language class or teaching yourself at home, smartphone apps are an excellent way to supplement your learning. The best way to use these apps is with a made-for-smartphone hearing aid that connects to your device and delivers the sound straight to your ears. There are smartphone hearing aids available for both iPhone and Android, as well as options designed to work with any phone. These hearing aids reduce the background noise, buzzing and other issues that make listening to phone audio difficult for people with hearing loss so you can hear your language app clearly. You can also use smartphone hearing aids to watch foreign films and listen to foreign music clearly, enhancing your understanding of your target language.
Adjust Your Hearing Aid
It may come as a surprise, but sometimes your hearing aid may need to be adjusted to hear as clearly in other languages as you can in English. That's because every language has its own linguistic differences that change how they sound when spoken. For example, some languages put emphasis on nasal sounds or tones that aren't used in English (for example, Portuguese or Mandarin Chinese). In other languages, being able to hear the end of a sentence or the harshness of a consonant may be particularly important. Adjusting the frequency of your hearing aid channels can help make such sounds more clear. If you don't already have an adjustable hearing aid with multiple, customisable frequency channels and easy-to-use adjustment software, now could be the time to invest in one.
Follow Your Own Pace
Many language teachers and learners have their own ideas about the 'right way' to learn a language. However, it's important to note that these ideas aren't usually constructed with people who have hearing loss in mind. While a teacher may tell you about the importance of developing listening skills early on, don't be afraid to follow a pace better suited to you and your hearing abilities. Feel free to use apps, books and other resources to tailor your learning towards reading and writing if you feel more comfortable approaching those skills first. It's often easier to hear foreign words when you already know how they're spelled and what they mean, so focusing on reading and writing first can help you develop your listening skills when you're ready.