Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Speaking another language with hearing loss

June 28, 2017

 

Guten Tag! I’m currently travelling through France and Germany with my husband and the dog. I love travel – always have done. But I’ve been feeling a little nervous about this trip.

You see, many years before I lost my hearing I studied languages. I was so immersed in them that I dreamt in French and German. I even found myself thinking FIRST in one of my other languages and then having to translate back into English.

 

Fast forward a couple of decades and here I am, spending a holiday in Germany for the first time since I went deaf. Given the years that have passed I knew I would find it hard to speak the language. But this time around I was also going to find it harder to simply hear what was being said, never mind understand the words as well.

 

I felt quite disconsolate about the potential experience. And part of me wondered why I was even bothering to try; English is a universal language after all. But I also realised it would be a shame not to try and converse in a language I loved so much. So I decided to boost my confidence by getting my ear re-accustomed to the sound of German. This was what I did:

 

  • I picked up some Michel Thomas CDs from the local library and listened to them using my Phonak Roger Pen. My job training and coaching people takes me all over the country, so I had plenty of hours on trains to sit back and learn as I travelled to see clients. I did get a few funny looks from other passengers, but never mind!

 

  • Given that I can’t always hear my voice well, I was worried I might mispronounce any German I did try to speak and feel a fool. I racked my brain for a while then realised the new Phonak Roger Touchscreen Microphone would be really helpful. The Touchscreen allows you to make recordings of what the microphone picks up. I googled some German poetry, hooked up the Touchscreen Mic to my laptop and read poetry to the dog. Her expression suggested she wasn’t impressed! I then listened back to my voice using my the Roger Pen. My accent is far from perfect, but it's better than it was!

 

  • I got arty! For many years before subtitles became more widespread, captioned foreign films gave me the chance to go to the cinema with other people and feel no different to them. So I headed onto Netflix and into their international film section to catch up on some old favourites.

 

Did it work? Well, I’ve been able to successfully order a beer in the local Biergarten, so that’s the important stuff taken care of! My German is still rusty, but employing these tactics has given me much more confidence to have a go, which is more than many hearing people are prepared to do. And when I do struggle to hear people, for once I don’t have to explain about my hearing loss, I just shrug and blame it on being English!

 

Have you tried learning or brushing up on a language with hearing loss? How did it go for you? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

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