Cough, running out of breath, laryngitis and pharyngitis… so frequent are all of these problems among teachers that we often consider “losing the voice” a part of our job. It does not have to be like this anymore.
During the 22nd Tesol Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece Annual International Convention Ms Maria Papachristou delivered a very interesting and interactive talk with the title: “Voice: Friend or Foe?”
Good voice projection cannot be learnt in a day. It takes a lot of effort and practice. We have to know how to project our voice correctly in order not to harm our vocal cords, since the wrong use of our voice can lead to a lot of problems ranging from a cough to more serious problems which require surgery.
Ms Papachristou first presented to us the organs of speech (the mouth, the larynx, and the diaphragm) and described how we use them and how we should use them properly. To our surprise, we found out that the right position of the tongue and the soft palate is achieved at the moment of yawning. It is that relaxing moment when everything in our mouth seems to be in the right place, so that we can produce a clear and unobstructed sound.
After presenting the organs of speech we talked about the art of breathing.
We can produce a clear voice by using some specific techniques. These techniques come from classical music and are used by opera singers who must know how to project their voice without the use of the microphone and without straining their vocal cords. Diaphragmatic breathing is more relaxing, lasts longer and helps produce unobstructed sounds. Consequently, it helps us with a lot of activities, such as walking or talking.
We were also surprised to find out that there is a part of our body which is called the speakers. The voice coming out through the speakers will be projected forward and heard more clearly.
The session was not pure theory, but the audience got an opportunity to practice the two types of breathing and notice the differences. Overall, a very interesting session which made us all realize that in order to be more productive teachers, we need to take care of one of our most important tools: the voice.
Ms Papachristou is an English teacher, but with the guidance and support of her teacher, Mrs Efthimia Chasiotou, she has studied voice projection and has also become a teacher of monody of classical music.
By Margarita Kosior