Continued practice cueing vowels and diphthongs is unavoidable in this section, although primary emphasis will be the correct consonant cues in syllables. Special attention is given to eliminating common handshape substitution errors, improving skills with complex initial and final consonant clusters, and synchronizing cues with spoken consonants at the syllable level.
Consonants also pose some learning hurdles. When perception of consonant phonemes proves to be an underlying problem, the cause is often the interference of one's memory for English spelling. Other perceptual difficulties usually center around confusions of the voiced /th/ as in "thy" with the voiceless /xh/ as in "thigh," or the /w/ sound in "wine" with the /wh/ sound in "whine." Categorization problems are often caused by the fact that there are more categories (i.e., handshapes) to establish and more consonants to locate in categories. The /zh/ may be hard to remember because it so seldom occurs in spoken English. The same is true for /wh/, /ch/, and /y/. Finger dexterity problems commonly affect the cueing of consonant clusters or sustain manual confusions between between handshapes 2 and 7, 4 and 5, or 2 and 8.
As in the "Beginning Lessons in Cued Speech" we encourage practice with a mirror so long as one actively watches for handshape errors as well as for correct configurations. For some cuers a periodic mirror check is all that is really necessary. Perhaps the most effective check on cueing accuracy and synchronization is the presence of a partner who is also learning to cue and who doesn't mind monitoring your skills.
One of the disadvantages of a printed manual such is this is the dependence upon written words for practice. We urge that you develop the habit of converting words and phrases on the printed page into spoken words and phrases stripped of spelling before you cue-and-say. The sooner one can "hear" sounds-within-syllables rather than visualizing strings of letters in words, the sooner one will experience genuine carry-over of practice sessions into real communication. Another way to free oneself from the spelling influence is to follow each practice session in this book with one or more of these carry-over activities:
- Cue-and-say every object you can name in this room.
- Visualize another room in your home and cue-and-say a detailed inventory of objects, pictures, colors, etc.
- Recall the names of relatives and friends and cue them.
- Describe the things you see while taking a cue walk.
- Cue-and-say lines you recall from poems, songs, jingles, proverbs, and favorite jokes. A speech/language pathologist on maternity leave cues everything she says to her hearing baby. The baby seems to enjoy it, and the mother maintains her valuable clinical cueing skill.
- Avoid the irritations of TV commercials by cueing-and-saying the advertising slogans.
- Cue-and-say telephone numbers, birth dates, and other special calendar dates.
- Cue the days of the week and months of the year.
- Pick up the phone with your non-cueing hand and cue everything you say to those irritating pests who are trying to sell you something. Who says a phone call has to be a waste of time?