I often get emails from people who want me to give them a quick tip on how they can become fluent speakers. I certainly understand their desire. However, I’m also certain that no one really believes that there is a simple trick or one piece of advice that will instantly transform a person who stutters into a fluent speaker.
Nevertheless, people who stutter can go through a process of helping themselves to become fluent speakers. This process starts with discovering how fluent speech is produced and comparing this to what you do to produce speech. So for those of you who want to take an active role in this process, I thought that it would be a good idea to give you an activity to do.
The activity I am describing here is meant to show you that speaking does not involve thinking about what you want to say and then trying to get it out. So let’s explore….
Activity: Discovering how language develops in the brain i.e. developing internal (sub vocal) speech
Step 1: Write an email to some one. While you are doing this, become aware of how language automatically develops in your head. This is your internal or sub vocal speech.
Internal speech automatically develops in your head when you are writing, figuring out a math problem or simply talking silently to yourself. Language is meant to develop in the exact same way when you are talking to all people in all situations. Developing internal speech is speaking and there is really nothing else that you need to do. Doing anything less, or anything more, will very likely lead to speech blocks. I suggest you look at these fascinating links related to sub vocal speech. It will help you understand the power of this inner speech.
Step 2: Speak silently as you become aware of how language develops automatically when you are not thinking about the words that you are saying or planning to say.
For most of you, this will be natural under the condition of silent speech, but for others, you might find that even in silent speech you have a tendency to preplan your thoughts or choose your words. If this is the case, you can try giving up all control by experiencing automatic internal speech while counting or saying the ABCs. Later you can move on move on to spontaneous speech.
Step 3: Once you are speaking naturally in your head, continue to do this as your mouth simultaneously moves along with the internal speech.
Some of you might have been doing this already in steps 1 & 2. If not, do it now. If you are using automatic articulation, you will hardly feel that you mouth is moving, even though it is. Also you will be able to speak without any effort.
Step 4: Talk silently and then talk aloud. See if there is any difference at all in the way your internal speech develops and the way your mouth moves.
Being aware of whether the process of speaking silently and aloud is the same, or even slightly different, is the prerequisite for changing how the system works.