Teaching and Voice Strain

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University Prof:
During the many years that I've been teaching, I've often come home with a hoarse voice, or almost no voice left, after teaching. It clears up overnight and I've previously thought nothing of it. But now it's becoming quite bothersome, as it's hitting me during class rather than after. I've been teaching classes that last about three continuous hours per meeting, and this has been taking a toll on my throat and voice in the last year especially. I'm thinking of consulting a specialist, and finding out about voice training, as I suspect that I'm not projecting my voice properly and not breathing properly.  I know I'm talking too fast and plan to work on that. I use throat drops and try to stay hydrated during class. The problem occurs only after teaching these long classes. My discomfort and frustration with this are to the point where I'm about to try some new classroom teaching methods so I don't have to talk so much. Has anyone had a voice strain problem from teaching and found good methods to prevent it?

Dr. Speech:
If your university has a speech-language pathology program  (also called communication disorders), contact their voice specialist there.

ABD Candidate:
I understand three-hour courses, but I wonder if you are talking too much? You didn't indicate what kind of class this was -- are you teaching a large lower-division lecture, or a graduate seminar?

In-class activities such as student-led discussions, small group activity, student presentations or anything that they can actively participate in will break up the monotony of listening to a lecture go on for three hours, and give you a necessary break. You can also use guest speakers once in a while, or a short video that could be used as a discussion piece after viewing. How about a field trip? There are many things you can do rather than a three-hour marathon lecture. You probably realize that students will not keep that kind of attention span for that long any way.

Can you offer the class twice or three times a week instead?
Good luck to you.

Get this checked now! I know of someone who lost her voice for months after ignoring daily strain for too long. It eventually came back, but why risk it?

I also have the same problem from time to time. I've tried using games/activities to give my voice a break during class. Cough drops & water help somewhat. Trying different teaching techniques is important.


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