Do I have a speech problem?

Hello all!

I am a native English speaker from the UK and I speak Spanish and Portuguese as foreign languages.

I learnt Spanish first and used to live in South America. I have been almost everywhere in South America. I noticed when I was there that some people, and this continues even now, said my Spanish is excellent and are visually impressed when I spoke and others quite literally couldn't understand a word I say. I have a Spanish speaking girlfriend and we only speak in Spanish together. I can't understand the difference in reactions. How can I be speaking to several people and a few understand perfectly and are impressed but some cannot understand a single word?

Another oddity is that I have noticed certain places have problems and I generally already know, just from where a person is from, if they will understand me before I even speak. Caracas, Madrid, Santa Cruz and Asuncion are the main places for Spanish. Lisbon for Portuguese.

Finally, this may be easy to attribute to the fact they are foreign languages and so it is my accent or pronunciation but it also happens to an extent in English. I have met native English speakers before and, very rarely but it does happen, they can't understand me or they say it is difficult to understand me. I was in a bar with an Irish guy who used to teach English. He said it was strange, I hit all the consonants but there was something that made it very hard to follow what I was saying. For an American guy I met I quite literally had to repeat everything 2-3 times I said to him.

My brother sounds, in terms of accent etc. just like me. If I hear our voices recorded it is hard to determine who is who. He doesn't have these problems though. This has made me think that I either 1) have a speech problem 2) a breathing problem or 3) a hearing problem.

Does anybody have any advice, suggestions or ideas about either what the problem may be or how I can go about finding out what the problem may be?

Thanks in advance.

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Feb 04, 2017
by: Bridget


I thought your question was very interesting and I don't really have an answer!

By first reaction is your accent is playing a big part. Accents can happen because of how you says sounds but also by intonation, rate of speech, vowel pronunciation. Changing these things can make a different. I would seek out an evaluation by a speech therapist that works on accent reduction. They can help give you more insight.

Hope that helps!

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Bridget is an ASHA certified, practicing speech-language pathologist. She is passionate about providing parents with information on child speech and language development as well as provide functional, easy activities to do at home! Parents have the power to make a real difference. Follow Bridget at Facebook and Pinterest for more fun!

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