University of Sheffield students share their thoughts about studying Speech and Language Therapy (SLT)
3rd September 2019
I have always been intrigued by the ways in which we make speech sounds. As I was learning French and Italian, I wanted to know how we roll the ‘r’ in different ways. I was raised in Hong Kong where people speak in different accents (mainly ‘Chinglish’ and a mix of British with an American accent) This sparked my interest in understanding how we produce accents with the help of the International Phonetic Alphabets (IPA). IPA is also one of the main ways speech therapists assess and analyse clients’ speech. Apart from communication, SLT also plays a pivotal role in managing dysphagia (difficulty with swallowing). My grandma was my inspiration as she suffered from dysphagia in her late years as a result of radiation therapy to treat her nasopharyngeal cancer. As a practical and compassionate person, I love the idea of using my knowledge and passion to help others with their communication and swallowing difficulties. There is a saying that goes – ‘while doctors save people’s lives, speech therapists improve people’s quality of life!’
Speech therapy is a diverse profession that opens up various career options. With a few years of experience, therapists can specialise in a clinical area, such as adult learning disability, children with cleft lip/palate, autism, stuttering, mental health and forensics. Voice therapists work collaboratively with ear, nose and throat doctors, psychologists and singing teachers to rehabilitate a patient’s voice, which could be affected by vocal trauma, stress/anxiety, nerve damage, inflammation, head and neck cancer and Parkinson’s Disease. I wish to pursue voice specialism in the near future. Some therapists specialise in transgender voice, particularly male-to-female transgender, whose voice does not change after hormone therapy. It is my endeavour to help these individuals to find a voice and communication style that is best suited to their preferred gender.
I first found out about speech and language therapy from my aunty who is a physiotherapist. As I started to research the profession, I found that it perfectly combined my interests in language, anatomy, psychology, and creative problem solving. I shadowed an SLT for my year 10 and year 12 work experiences, which made me feel certain that this was the career for me.
The course at Sheffield was exactly what I wanted from my university education; I enjoyed the variety of the modules and the real-life experiences of the clinical placements. I think that the great thing about studying to be an SLT is that you cover so many topics including psychology, anatomy, sociology, linguistics, and phonetics. I loved my time at university, and I am so excited to begin my career as a Speech and Language Therapist!
I stumbled across The University of Sheffield’s Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) masters degree whilst searching through lists of degrees that the university offered in the hopes I may find something which matched my interests.
Speech and Language Therapy had been something I had been exposed to from my previous work in schools. I had worked alongside speech therapists delivering their interventions to several of our pupils. My sister had also received some speech therapy as a child which had been greatly beneficial to her. Whilst researching the profession I was fascinated to discover just how varied the profession was. I was intrigued by the variety of clinical environments many SLTs work in, such as hospitals, clinics and care homes. I was also drawn by the ‘life-long learning’ approach to the profession – many SLTs regularly attend workshops, conferences, talks and lectures to help inform their practices better, and I was drawn to a career where I could always be learning.
The course was very enjoyable and the opportunities I had on placement to experience a wide variety of different professional settings inspired me to consider where I may want to work when I graduate. The friendly and approachable nature of the staff and fellow students meant I was always learning and being guided by other people’s wisdom and knowledge. I am looking forward to graduating and qualifying as a Speech and Language therapist later this academic year and to learn from other experienced professionals as part of my new career.