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The voice problems of teachers

Daniel BuenoShortage of breath when speaking, tiredness, hoarseness in the last six months and a deeper voice than normal. In this order, these were the four voice problems most often found in a sample of 102 teachers at 11 public schools in the city of Piracicaba, in inner-state São Paulo. They took part in a study conducted by the speech therapist Raquel Pizolato. These disturbances might be connected to the excessive use of speech due to the necessities of the professional activity and inappropriate breathing coordination while speaking. To try to reduce these problems, Raquel applied a three-month vocal health program to 36 teachers from the sample. Besides attending talks on how speech is produced, the teachers did vocal exercise sessions and were taught simple tips, which nevertheless can alleviate certain symptoms. “We talked about the importance of drinking water while teaching, of resting the voice during breaks and the beneficial effects on the speech system of eating an apple,” said Raquel, who defended her doctoral thesis on this study at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp). It was also explained to the participants that they should avoid habits that are bad for the voice, such as shouting, throat clearing, using sprays and lozenges and drinking cold liquids often. At the end of the reeducation program, the researcher found that most of the symptoms had improved.