Learning a Foreign Language with Hearing Loss

  • By pugetsound
  • 05 Jun, 2017
Here at Puget Sound Hearing Aids and Audiology, we believe that hearing aids reconnect you to the world around you. Hearing loss can be isolating, but with the prescription of hearing aids, sounds are restored and communication between you and your loved ones are drastically improved. Hearing aids are also instrumental in communication when it comes to foreign languages. Living in this age of globalization, most students are required to learn a foreign language in high school. Many of us continue practicing and growing our knowledge into adulthood, as we begin to work in sectors that require knowledge of another language. If you experience a hearing loss and have been hesitant to learn a new language, never fear! There are many tools to help you learn a foreign language with hearing loss.

Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language

At any age, learning a foreign language can be fun, challenging, and incredibly useful. For most, it is a great addition to a resume, especially in a time when corporations and non-governmental organizations offer many employment opportunities abroad. The Telegraph reports that psychological studies “have found that speaking two or more languages is a great asset to the cognitive process. The brains of bilingual people operate differently than single language speakers, and these differences offer several mental health benefits.” These benefits include improved memory, better multitasking skills, and better perception, to name a few. Importantly, studies have found that knowing more than one language tends to decrease your risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia. Coincidentally, the use of hearing aids has also been found to reduce the risk of dementia. As hearing happens in the brain, untreated hearing loss could lead to a heavier cognitive load, which has been linked to the risk for dementia. Hearing aids provide clearer signals, which means the brain has more energy to work on other important tasks.

Learning a Foreign Language

Recently, Starkey Hearing Foundation featured a story by one of their International Program Officers. Trevor Turner, a hearing aid wearer of 26 years, speaks many different languages. While in college, Turner became fluent in German, the language of his ancestors, in just two years. Though not without its challenges, Turner believes that it is his passion for different cultures that fuels his study of different languages. Turner writes, “Now, with a hearing loss, it can be hard to watch movies or listen to music, or even just listen to speech in a foreign language. Particularly with native speakers, conversations can seem like a quick blur.” He believes that “slowing down a foreign language” by paying attention to music and movies can help people with hearing loss in learning the language. Below are a few tips offered by Turner.

Subtitles and Closed Caption for TV Shows and Movies

Most DVDs and Netflix offer the option of foreign language subtitles for movies and TV shows. Rather than choosing the English subtitles (which people with hearing loss may do to assist their viewing experience), try watching with subtitles of the language you’re learning, whether it’s French, German, or Spanish. This is especially useful for reading comprehension in the foreign language of your study!

Listen to Foreign Language Songs Along with Lyrics

For music lovers, what better way to pick up a language quickly than with music? The rhythm and rhyme of popular songs can get stuck in our heads and tend to have simpler grammatical constructions that longer pieces of literature. Check out YouTube for free videos of foreign language music and look for the lyrics on Google.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

If you have a smartphone, there are a number of apps available to aid your journey in learning a foreign language. DuoLingo and Memrise are two well-designed apps that start you off with basics and take you to a fairly intermediate level of vocabulary and pronunciation. When it comes to viewing movies or TV shows, Turner suggests using an ingenious new app available for the iPhone. Netflix has the option to stream audio directly from TV shows and movies to your hearing aids, which makes “the voices in the show sound as lifelike as possible, which is important for learning a new language. You will hear all the sounds and nuances of the new languages, which will help with comprehension and improve your accent!”

Upgrade Your Hearing Aids at Puget Sound Hearing Aids and Audiology

At Puget Sound Hearing Aids and Audiology, we offer some of the most advanced hearing instruments available on the market. Whether it is Starkey’s Halo 2 Made for iPhone, ReSound’s LiNX2 Made for iPhone, or Widex’s BEYOND, we have options for wireless hearing aids to improve your listening experience. To learn more about our advanced hearing aids and to schedule a consultation, contact us at one of our locations today.

Puget Sound Hearing & Audiology

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