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Language Therapy Jobs FAQs
Language therapists work with how people use and understand words. This involves the perceptions and interpretation of the vocabulary of a language plus how these words are put together to make sense – the structure and grammar. A language therapy job will also look at how we use language in various contexts such as school, work, home, social, etc.
What qualifications do Language Therapists need?
To qualify for language therapy jobs you will need the same qualification as for speech therapists: a four year BSc or BSc Honours in Speech and Language Therapy or Clinical Speech and Language Studies.
There is stiff competition for entry to these degree programmes so you will need Honours on your school leaving certificate and it always helps if you have shown a caring disposition by doing voluntary work or shadowing a speech and language professional for a period.
There are three accredited places you can study for these degrees:
1. Trinity College Dublin
2. University College Cork
3. The National University of Ireland, Galway
What is the Governing Body for Language Therapists?
The Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists is the governing body and monitors, approves and accredits courses for Speech and Language Therapists but it is not mandatory that you become a member at present.
However, you will shortly need to register with the recently formed Health and Social Care Professionals Council (CORU) on gaining your degree to be able to practise in a language therapy job.
Once qualified as a Language Therapist
Once qualified with your undergraduate degree you will need one year of supervised practise in a speech and language therapy job before you can work independently. There is also the option of studying further either at the University of Limerick (offering postgraduate courses such as MSc, M.Litt, M.Phil or a PhD in Speech and Language Therapy and an MSc in Advanced Healthcare Practice or postgraduate certificates and courses for continuing professional development) or overseas.
Either way you will need to keep up with the latest developments and new technologies, techniques and findings in the field of languages as applied to language therapy throughout your career.
Where can you find jobs as a Language Therapist?
You will find language therapy vacancies mostly in the Health Service Executive (HSE) as this service if offered free for those in need (and normally referred from their GP or Public Health Nurse) – especially children.
You may find a language therapy vacancy in voluntary organisations (such as the Voluntary Stroke Scheme) which may be contracted to the HSE and there will be language therapy vacancies in private practice as well.
What is it like working as a Language Therapist?
You will be working with patient of all ages – from infants who need help becoming age related proficient to teenagers, adults and the elderly whose language centres in the brain are becoming less efficient.
There are many reasons why people require help from a language therapist, so in many cases you can choose the type of patients you would like to work with, for example:
• People who have suffered brain damage through trauma or disease
• Children with developmental challenges – from those who may be dyslexic to those with childhood syndromes such as Downe’s Syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, etc.
• Psychiatric patients and others with mental illnesses
• The elderly, frail and those with dementia Stroke patients who are going through rehabilitation
• Patients with degenerative conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinsons, etc.
Language therapists will firstly assess their patient then formulate a plan of action with exercises and activities suited to that individual patient. Sometimes, the language therapist will need to be quite inventive and creative to find a way to help the patient. You will also need to involve family members, carers, nurses, teachers, etc. basically anyone involved with the patient who can assist to motivate, monitor and encourage the patient to keep practising the exercise and activities. The more practice, the better the result.
So, a language therapist must provide information and assistance to more people than simply the patient.
Language therapy jobs involve mostly one-to-one sessions but sometimes it helps to have group sessions where each person is able to assist and stimulate the other. It also helps the patient to understand that they are not the only person challenged with phonetics and language which often helps to ease the frustrations.
Indeed it is one of the most important functions of a language therapist to help encourage their patient and manage the frustrations that may occur during the process of learning and adaptation.
Other characteristics that will help you in language therapy jobs include:
• Effective communication skills using all the various methods of communication that suit each individual patient
• The ability to motivate and stimulate others to progress and to be able to be assertive when you know its in the patient’s best interests
• A strong desire to help others
• Great patience and empathy
• An in depth understanding of the processes involved and not creating unreal expectations for the patient
• Respect for the patient’s individuality, culture, religion, sexual persuasion, privacy and dignity
• Great organisational skills together with a flexibility of approach and a willingness to try new methods to help the patient
• Recognising that each person is an individual and will respond differently and have different needs
• A sense of humour which can be adapted to each patient and their situation
• A positive and solution orientated approach
What are the typical hours of work for a Language Therapist?
Working hours are normally straightforward with little after hours work and you may work in various settings from hospitals to community clinics, health centres, work places, nursing and care homes and the patient’s own home.