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English as Second Language.

(I decided to share this very personal true story after I realized that there was a great need for a school-based SLP in my young adult life. I have forgiven and moved on obviously and I am currently a super happy human being. 🙌🏼 Just wanted to share that confidence in “language” is very important for an optimal vocal function. Love you all.)

I have a story to tell. Please do not think this is a pity-party story. When I immigrated to Los Angeles, CA at almost 13 years of age I did not know any English words. Maybe “thank you.” I did not know the alphabet so naturally I did not know how to read. I sat in the ESL class for a year and the ESL teacher never thought to give me formal instructions in reading.

There were no interpreters. My parents did not speak English and they were very occupied trying to make ends meet by working multiple jobs. They were too exhausted to go to night school to learn English. I never blame them for my lack of progress at school nor their missed opportunity in mastering the English language. They were trying to survive and provide. 🙏🏼

Sadly, I was bullied by the ESL teacher and her student teaching assistant who assumed that I was cursing every time I spoke Korean out of frustration for not being able to communicate.

You see, I was a gifted writer in Korea. I won creative writing competitions at young age. I had a very “free” and “energetic” voice. I lost that voice as a child immigrant. The shame of being bullied, and being thought to be ignorant was soul crushing.

After a year, the ESL teacher finally realized that I needed formal instructions and that I wasn’t going to “naturally” learn to read in English. She sat me down one day to teach me the sounds of the alphabet and how to put them together to make words.

One week of lessons was all I needed to continue progressing on my own. Eventually I grew up to have multiple degrees and create a novel medical diagnosis. Not bad I think. 👏🏼🙌🏼

My history of MTD actually goes back that far among other contributing traumatic factors. But my real reason for telling this story, is that I wish there was a SLP in my middle school. In grad school I learned that SLPs teach kids how to read!!!

I secretly cried taking those classes. There was so much resentment and sadness being triggered about my ESL student days. I know I focus on medical SLP all the time but I am in awe of what school-based SLPs do. I simply wish I had one myself.

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