Learning a second language: Being deaf won’t stop me

Posted on September 17, 2018

Ah, English! What a beautiful language! But it’s sometimes difficult for people with a hearing disability to overcome the challenges and issues that come with learning English as a second language.

I am a person who is deaf (severe to profound hearing loss) and have been wearing hearing aids since the age of two. Most of the time, hard-of-hearing persons living in Quebec are exempt from learning English, since they must learn French from a very young age with the help of speech therapy. In other words, we must learn to recognize sounds, pronounce words correctly and survive in a hearing world where everything is fast-paced. So learning a second language becomes an insurmountable, if not impossible, task for us.

However, my parents persevered, and I took English courses at school. Learning English was very difficult, but I rolled up my sleeves and ended up passing the government entrance tests! So I would like to share some resources I found online as well as everyday tips to help you better understand English and succeed in government entrance tests.

Tips and resources

First, people with a disability are fortunate to have the Assessment Accommodation Unit. It’s important to know about this valuable resource! Simply notify the Unit at the start of the hiring process that you have a disability, whatever it might be, and you’ll have the RIGHT to receive accommodation that will help you succeed in the second language entrance tests. The Assessment Accommodation Unit page contains information and accommodation tools.

Next, I urge you to watch television in English, read English books and buy a bilingual dictionary. You can also engage in lively conversations with other English learners and register in courses offered by your city. These activities are often free!

I also recommend AnglaisFacile.com, a free website chock full of tips and tricks. This site has helped me understand English better and given me the chance to test my skills with practice tests. You’ll also find several apps to learn English using your cell phone, such as Babbel – Learn Languages and Duolingo. These easy apps will help you learn the basics of English. They are also useful when you travel and need help or directions!

Lastly, I recommend buying software such as Rosetta Stone, which is expensive but very helpful for learning English. With this software, you can identify your starting level and work up to expert levels.

My advice is to simply have fun while learning a new language and to tell yourself that you can do it, even with a hearing disability! People are understanding. Above all, don’t put up barriers and think that you’ll never be able to pass the public service language tests! Because anything is possible, and if I can pass them, so can YOU!

Happy learning!

Translated by Line Lalande, Language Portal of Canada


The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.

Get to know Maryse Allain

Maryse Allain

Maryse Allain has been with Public Services and Procurement Canada since April 2018. She is an administrative support clerk for the Property and Facilities Management Services Directorate (Resource Management and Human Resource Planning). Maryse uses the Language Portal often to maintain and improve her second language. In her view, the Portal is an essential learning tool. Finally, English is a wonderful language that opens up a world of possibilities!


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