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A few tips

Posted Aug 27 2009 11:35pm
While reading a word, I ask my therapist to write down, how it is actually pronounced, how it is sounded out. For exampleAlfa: al-fah
Familiar: fah-mil-yer
Lullaby: lahl – ah –bai
Egyptian: ɛ-gip-shɛn
Especially: ɛs-pɛh-shl-lee

Then I would cross out the original word, so that only the phonetic transcription would remain. If you think the phonetic letters further confuse you, then you must find out which letters make the most sense to you to replace sounds.
To me it felt like, while trying to read a text, I was fighting on two fronts1) translate the symbols on the page to sounds,
2) deal with the intricacies of English language, which are constantly changing from word to word.
So I would read a sentence or a small paragraph out loud. And if any words prove themselves problematic, then I would my therapist or my caregiver to sound it out for me. Then cross that word out and replace with the new version.
Of course after the session I would collect all these words, write them down on one side of the page, the transcriptions on the other side, like I have done above. Then I would repeat them until they became second nature.
You may find with the sight-words this may not be necessary, but especially with three or more syllabic words, I found it quite useful.
The second thing I found useful is working on prosody. In Wikipedia prosody is defined as: “the rhythm , stress , and intonation of connected speech (as opposed to smaller elements like syllables or words). Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of a speaker; whether an utterance is a statement, a question, or a command; whether the speaker is being ironic or sarcastic; emphasis, contrast, and focus ; or other elements of language that may not be encoded by grammar or choice of vocabulary.”
Being unable to produce the rhythm, stress and intonation of connected speech is called (surprise, surprise…) aprosodia. Producing these nonverbal elements requires intact motor areas of the face, mouth, tongue, and throat. This area is associated with Brodmann areas 44 and 45 ( Broca's area ) of the left frontal lobe . Damage to areas 44/45 produces motor aprosodia, with the nonverbal elements of speech being disturbed (facial expression, tone, rhythm of voice).
So what do I do? There are exercises your therapist or your caregiver can work on with you. For example take a sentence: “it is a nice day.” You can say it in many different ways. First let the other person say it, and repeat after her with the same prosody. Sentence after sentence…
Question“Is it a nice day outside?”
“It is a wonderful day!”
“It is a nice day.”
The third thing I found usefulWhile repeating after the person (therapist or caregiver) definitely, absolutely, positively look at her face. Let her say it a couple of times, observe the mouth very carefully, repeat after her, then say it together in tandem. When you are convinced you mastered the pronunciation, then say it twice, wait for 10 seconds, say it, wait for 30 seconds then say it again. Repeat this exercise until you have a complete mastery of the word so that it rolls of your tongue with ease.
The brain science behind this is as follows: Mirror neurons! (According to Wikipedia)
“A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another animal (especially by another animal of the same species). [1] Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of another animal, as though the observer were itself acting. These neurons have been directly observed in primates , and are believed to exist in humans and other species including birds . In humans, brain activity consistent with mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortex and the inferior parietal cortex .
Some scientists consider mirror neurons one of the most important findings of neuroscience in the last decade. Among them is V.S. Ramachandran , who believes they might be very important in imitation and language acquisition . [2] However, despite the popularity of this field, to date no plausible neural or computational models have been put forward to describe how mirror neuron activity supports cognitive functions such as imitation. [3]
“In humans, functional MRI studies reported that areas homologous to the monkey mirror neuron system have been found in the inferior frontal cortex, close to Broca's area , one of the hypothesized language regions of the brain. This has led to suggestions that human language evolved from a gesture performance/understanding system implemented in mirror neurons. Mirror neurons have been said to have the potential to provide a mechanism for action understanding, imitation learning, and the simulation of other people's behaviour.”[
Well, the existence of mirror neurons in the brain still open for debate, but proven or not, I have seen it in action.

Here is a key to phonetic transcriptions


A
A
ae /eɪ/ [3]

B
Bee
/biː/

C
Cee
/siː/

D
Dee
/diː/

E
E
/iː/

F
ef (eff as a verb)
/ɛf/

G
gee
/dʒiː/

H
aitch
/eɪtʃ/

haitch
/heɪtʃ/

I
i
/aɪ/

J
jay
/dʒeɪ/


K
kay
/keɪ/

L
el
/ɛl/

M
em
/ɛm/

N
en
/ɛn/

O
o
/oʊ/

P
pee
/piː/

Q
kue
/kjuː/

R
ar
/ɑr/ [4]

S
ess (spelled es- in compounds such es-hook)
/ɛs/

T
tee
/tiː/

U
u
/juː/

V
vee
/viː/

W
double-u
/ˈdʌbəljuː/ in careful speech [5]

X
ex
/ɛks/

Y
wy or wye
/waɪ/

Z
zed
/zɛd/

zee in American English
/ziː/
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