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How to Build your Own Auditory Training Word List

Posted By Naama Tsach, PhD, Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2017

This post was written at the request of a reader who noted:

I would like to involve my family in my auditory training by having them read words or sentences to me. Can you provide suggestions of home practice tools for this purpose?

This is a wonderful request that will help others looking for home practice materials.
I do have mixed feelings about this request. On the one hand, I believe that after receiving a cochlear implant, recipients of all ages benefit from working with a professional trained in auditory rehabilitation. Such professionals can help recipients choose and adapt auditory training materials to meet their needs. On the other hand, we know that most adults do not receive such support post CI and their auditory practice is likely to be done independently. Hence, I will do my best to guide you. I would also be more than happy to respond to any comments or inquiries from our readers regarding their experiences in using home practice techniques.

Our current goal is to create lists of words that could serve as a foundation of your auditory listening inventory and will later serve you when you create lists of sentences for further auditory training. So, let's roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Creating Word Lists

The first part is fun. Think of words that are most useful to you—at home, at work and in other everyday situations. Include important words such as names of relatives and friends, nouns, pronouns (i.e., I, we, you, she, her, them, it, this, that), verbs, auxiliary verbs (i.e., be, can, could, do, have, may, might, must, shall, should, will, would), adverbs, and adjectives. Include same verbs in different morphological forms (drive, drives, driving). For future practice, add common question words (i.e., what, why, where). In addition, include numbers (1-100), colors, and letters. Update the list occasionally with relevant words. At the end of this process, you should have a very long list from which you can build various auditory training lists.

Example of a (partial) List:

Bob, John, Kathy, Mom, Dad, Rockville, Maryland, yes, no, don't, what, how, when, why, who, do, does, are, is, want, take ,give, build, drive, clean, play, tired, happy, coffee, tea, water, soda, lunch, dinner, breakfast, egg, nuggets, guacamole, room, car, big, small, green, great, beautiful, one, two, A, B .

In addition to the word list, you should make a list of everyday phrases and greetings. These might include:

  • Good morning
  • What's up?
  • Have a good one
  • Thank you

Congratulations! You now have a very long list of working materials. The next step is to build your training lists. I will illustrate how to create lists of words that require different levels of auditory perception skills. Practicing speech perception of the same word in different environments (different word lists) will help you identify specific differences between speech sounds, which will enhance your word perception (even beyond the words that you have included in your original list).

Example #1: Word lists based on letters

  1.  Beginner level (easy): w,s,b,I,k,m,o,q. To make it easier, you can divide the list into two groups.
  2. For more advanced training you can use the following list of letters: a,c,e,f,i,j,h,l,m,o,u,r,t,v,w,x,b. Again, to make it easier, you can divide the list into two or three groups.
  3. The following lists would demand even higher auditory perception skills: b,c,d,e,g,p,t,v or f,h,j,k,l,m,n,s,x

Example #2: Word lists based on food names

  1.  Beginner level: Include words of different lengths and varying vowel patterns: avocado, tomato, cheese, egg, lettuce, rice, cucumber, corn, chicken, and cream cheese.
  2. For more advanced training, you can use the following list of mid-length (two syllable) words: chicken, onion, nuggets, pizza, orange, lettuce, mango, pumpkin, ice cream, pasta, ketchup, and mayonnaise.
  3. This next list would be even more difficult since it includes only short (one-syllable) words: soup, bread, rice, cream, bean, corn, egg, cheese, toast, beef, steak.
  4. For an even greater challenge, you can use short words with very similar vowels sounds, such as: bean, cream, cheese, beef, mint.

Start with short lists of disparate words

When you adjust your practice materials to your auditory ability, note that the more similar the words (in their length, vowel and/or consonant sounds) and the longer the list, the greater the level of difficulty. Therefore, my advice is to start practicing using relatively short lists that include words that differ in as many parameters as possible, and then move on to longer lists that include words that are more similar to each other.

During practice sessions, you may have difficulty distinguishing between some words. Try practicing your auditory discrimination skills using specific words that are difficult (e.g., fun and sun). Ask your practice partner to read you the words and highlight the sounds that distinguish them (i.e., “f” and “s” in this example) by emphasizing or prolonging the first consonant. Repeat difficult exercises a week later and see if you have improved.

Share your experience with your audiologist

When you next visit your audiologist, share your experiences. (S)he may be able to explain why you have difficulty with specific auditory features and suggest how to move forward with your auditory training.
I hope that some of these tips will be helpful to you in getting started. Please feel free to send me any questions and I will do my best to assist you.

How can you use your word lists? In the next post I will share some practical uses for your lists. Hopefully you'll discover that auditory training can be fun.

Good luck!

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Comments on this post...

Cathy Kooser (Bishop) says...
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Thank you for this blog Naama! I work in the profession teaching an audiologic rehabilitation program for people with hearing loss entitled The Hidden Impact of Hearing Loss, and I serve as a clinic navigator for CA's. I was just implanted with my second implant and this article will prove helpful both personally and professionally. Again, thank you!
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Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Has anyone tried using the Rosetta Stone as part of their auditory rehab? This is not to suggest that it should replace professional help, but it seems it could be a great addition to the process. While it was designed to learn a foreign language, it could be very useful for CI patients to use the module with their primary language (i.e. English). With 5 levels in a language, there are hundreds of common words and phrases that the patient could practice with. It looks like the price for the 5 level bundle is around $150 (on sale now) - $250 which is quite reasonable.
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Naama Tsach says...
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Thanks Cathy, Wish you good luck with your new CI, I will be so happy if you find this material helpful. I promise i'll provide more in the future.
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Naama Tsach says...
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Thank you Michael for sharing. I am not familiar with Rosetta Stone, I just went on line and experienced their free trial. It seems that parts of it can be useful, however an assistant of a relative or friend with a normal hearing may be necessary. Feedback from other CI recipients who have experienced the use of it would be very helpful. Please share any other ideas and knowledge of any relevant training materials.
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The mission of the American Cochlear Implant (ACI) Alliance is to advance access to the gift of hearing provided by cochlear implantation through research, advocacy and awareness.