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Incorporating Speech Therapy in Your Study Abroad

04 February 2015

Yes! You've figured out a way to afford studying abroad. Now you can finally live your dream and stroll along the cobble streets of Ireland, hike around Machu Picchu in Peru or go to the Holi fest in India. You'll get to take some classes while taking in the local culture-- the ultimate win-win situation. But, most of your classes tend to cover your general education classes, or perhaps they cover the local language and culture. These classes are definitely a good way to become more well-rounded and culturally competent, as they say. But there's one issue; you begin to wonder-- how can I incorporate speech therapy or audiology into my study abroad?

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-Volunteer in a English class/ conversation exchange: Sometimes the local university or language school will have language exchanges that you can take part in. This not only helps the other person, but you can learn some of the local language, too. Depending on how formal you want it to be, you can even meet up and go to different events to learn more about the culture and language while helping your exchange partner (of course, use common sense-- don't go to places you've been told are sketchy-- meet up at busy places and find them through a university rather than online.)If this isn't for you, maybe see if a local university/school will let you volunteer in their English classes.

-Go on a medical volunteer trip or help at a hospital -- This might be more difficult. You can either disregard academics and go on a medically related volunteer trip (there are some that exist that relate to speech therapy or physical therapy). If you know someone that lives in the area and if you have decent language skills, then you can possibly try to volunteer in a hospital or similar organization. One program I found, the Atlantis Project, lets you volunteer in a hospital (not in the speech department) while living in the Canary Islands with the option of Spanish language classes. Not to mention you'd learn about a European healthcare system, which differs from that in the US. I haven't done it, but it looks interesting and would certainly help build medical Spanish vocabulary.

-Find other programs/organizations: If you search hard enough, you can possibly find other programs. One example is how I somehow managed to find a program that is in various locations throughout Spain: T-oigo's Allies in English . This is more audiology-related but still valuable for speech-pathology students. It requires that you're enrolled in a local university and then you just have a child "buddy" who is hearing impaired. You then meet up and speak English with the child throughout the school year.

-Shadow bilingual therapists: Need more observation hours? Try finding an ASHA certified speech pathologist in your study abroad country! Of course, you must make sure the person is ASHA certified, but once that's in the clear then you can shadow the person. Most will work in international schools, but some may do private therapy or work in other locations depending on their level of bilingualism. How can you find them? search using key words like "Speech Therapy (Therapist) Spain" and you might find forums for expat parents looking for services or even a personal website. Go to the 'About Me' page and see if they list where they studied or if they are licensed by ASHA. Another option is to use ASHA's Find a professional--- there's an option to search by country and then you know that the person is ASHA certified (as long as they've kept up the CEU/ licensure requirements).

Any other ways to incorporate language or speech into your study abroad? Please share!