The study of speech is split between two different paths: communication and theatre, and speech pathology. Both offer undergraduate and graduate levels of certificate and degree programs. Students who choose to focus on communication and theatre arts study the fundamentals of human interaction. Typically, those who would like to pursue a career in acting or the technical, behind-the-scenes aspects of theatre arts would concentrate on this degree track.
Speech-language pathology instructs students in the anatomy of the neck and head, and the diagnosis and treatment of speech and hearing disorders. Incoming bachelor's degree students may need to complete pre-major classes before taking core speech courses, while individuals pursuing a master's degree may need to show proof of completed undergraduate work.
Here is an outline of common concepts explored during speech courses:
- Interpersonal, Organizational and Intercultural Communication
- Public Relations
- Public Speaking
- American Sign Language
- Speech Science
List of Speech Classes
By studying the structure of the neck and head, students will better understand how humans speak and hear. Students study the nervous system, cranial nerves and the pathologies of the oral and aural systems. As a leading course in a speech program, students often take a hands-on approach by dissecting cadavers and brains. A course in anatomy is important in understanding communication processes if a student wishes to work in any career that focuses on the rehabilitation, development or use of the oral or auditory systems.
The Science of Speech Course
A prerequisite for this course is the anatomy of speech and hearing. Students will be able to answer the question, 'How do we produce and identify speech?' at the end of the course. Building off an anatomy course, the science of speech course provides an understanding of speech acoustics, speech perception and production characteristics. Students learn how to identify normal characteristics and values that provide a comparison for diagnosing speech and hearing disorders.
Also known as the auditory system, students may couple this hearing course with the science of speech course. This course improves the understanding of the inner and outer ear development. Often, students study the micromechanics and mechano-electric transfer of the inner and outer hair cells. For a better knowledge of hearing loss, students learn about the damage and repair of hair-cell organs, types of hearing loss and the affect of memory on hearing.
A speech disorders course is best taken near the end of a program. In discovering the nature and remedies of speech disorders, students are prepared for a profession in medicine, social work or speech therapy. Often these courses are split into different life stages, but at some colleges this course studies disorders that can afflict people throughout every stage of life. Aphasia, language delay, stuttering, craniofacial anomalies and apraxia are a few of the disorders studied. How to recognize, diagnose and remedy disorders is also covered.
The disorder of dysphagia affects a person's throat and mouth, often making it difficult for them to chew or swallow food. In this course students learn how to recognize the symptoms that correlate with dysphagia. Students may see clinical examples of this disorder and explore the procedures that are used in treating dysphagia. Learning the differences between various mouth issues, such as feeding and strength of the mouth versus swallowing problems, i.e. neck cancer, reflex problems or constricting airways, prepares students to better diagnose dysphagia.