I'm not a linguist, but I can see a connection between speech impairment and language learning.

I'm asking because I have a slight speech impairment myself (unable to pronounce guttural sounds like Guh, or Tuh, also 's' sounds like 'sushi' or 'sausage'). This is due to physical constraints/left side face paralysis due to surgery I have had in the past. Although as I age I have become increasingly more aware of this which has helped, I guess.

I have been to a speech therapist before without much luck. I was young and through my naivety found saying the same stupid phrase over and over again, a drag (and still do :P). They said my hearing has become attuned to thinking I sound normal. I was thinking lately however about learning a new language but I am concerned that I might end up learning it incorrectly. Will it be more beneficial to try and sort out my English first (if I can) or see if I can push the reset button on a new language?

  • 2
    This is a great first question. Welcome to Language Learning Alex!
    – fi12
    Oct 8, 2017 at 18:22

1 Answer 1


Learning a new languages often forces you to produce sounds that you have never heard or produced before.

For example, Standard Chinese has a number of sounds that are pronounced with the tip of the tongue against the lower teeth (transcribed as x, j, q in pinyin) and a retroflex r, which require getting used to for native speakers of Germanic languages. Czech has consonant clusters that sound unusual for speakers of Germanic languages; for example "vlk" and "krk" are words without any vowels.

New sounds like these force your mouth into new positions, which will be a new type of exercise for the muscles involved in articulation. It also forces you to become aware of which muscles in your mouth you use, where you move your tongue, when you round your lips (or relax them, etc.), etcetera. This can be beneficial. However, I have found that my pronunciation benefited more from targeted exercises described in videos such as How to get a clear accent by Jade Joddle and How to Speak More CLEARLY: Quick and Easy Strategies by Francesca Gordon-Smith, followed by a shadowing exercise. (For shadowing, see for example, the videos by Alexander Arguelles, who popularised the technique on YouTube, and this video by Julian Northbrook.)

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