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Module 3: The Jump

 

 

Learning to use The Jump

While Reading Aloud to yourself

By far the easiest way to practice The Jump is in situations where you are producing some real blocks to jump over. Unfortunately, when you are on your own, you probably won’t produce many real blocks. Nevertheless, it is better to start practicing on your own, before trying it out on other people, because when you are alone, you can take your time and make sure you know what you are meant to do.

If you don’t produce enough real blocks when reading aloud to yourself, a good alternative is to practice jumping over voluntary (pretend) blocks while reading aloud to yourself. Although this feels very different to jumping over real blocks (it’s actually more difficult) it nevertheless does give you the necessary practice.

 

Jumping over pretend blocks

Select a few pages of relatively straightforward text to read out loud. Underline or highlight about 10% of the words. These underlined/highlighted words are the ones that you will do voluntary blocks on.

If, in real life, you tend to block on words beginning with a particular sound, highlight the words that start with that sound. If you don’t have any particular problem-sounds, highlight the words that would normally be stressed —These are generally the ones that are more important for conveying the meaning of the sentence and so they are the ones you would normally be most likely to stammer on.

Once you’ve completed the highlighting, read the text out loud. If possible record or video yourself doing the reading. This will make it feel more authentic (Recording yourself will also increase the likelihood that you will produce some real blocks—which will give you the chance to practice jumping over real blocks).

 

Practical exercise1: Jumping after you’ve started to push

Ideally, you should jump over blocks before you start to try to push through them and before you start to produce any prolongations or repetitions. That way, you can avoid much of the muscle tension that arises from pushing. However, when people who stammer first start to employ The Jump, they are often a bit slow at recognising they have got stuck. So they often have already started to use force to try to push through the block or already started to prolong or repeat before they realise it. This exercise is designed to provide you with some practice letting go after you have already started to try to push through a block, prolong, or repeat. 

Procedure

· Read the text out loud exactly as one normally would when not using any technique at all.

· When you come to a highlighted word, produce  a voluntary block on the first sound of that word, and mimic the sort of behaviour you normally produce when you stammer. (This may be a block together with some pushing, a prolongation or a repetition).

· Then, a fraction of a second later, STOP and let go of all of the muscles associated with producing the sound you are blocking on.

· After a moment’s pause, start again gently, from the next sound of the word. (Don’t repeat the sound you pretended to block on).

· Always make sure there is a break between the sound you initially blocked on and the sound you start again from. (i.e. Don’t try and join these sounds together).

Try this exercise on words starting with a variety of different sounds.  See the first half of the voluntary jumping demo video 1 to check that you are doing it in the correct way. Click here for the associated text.

Of course, if you happen to produce any real blocks during this exercise, make sure you do The Jump on them too! 

 

Practical Exercise 2 Jumping as soon as you block

A far more satisfactory way of doing The Jump is to jump as soon as you start to block (and before you start to push or produce any repetitions, prolongations or secondary symptoms). To practice doing this, you can use the same highlighted text as in exercise 1

· Read the text out loud exactly as you normally would when not using any technique at all.

· When you come to a highlighted word, as soon as your mouth is in the position required to begin the first sound STOP. (this is your pretend block)

· Don’t use force, and don’t repeat or prolong the sound. 

· Let go of all of the muscles associated with producing the initial sound you are blocking on.

· After a moment’s pause, carry on gently, from the next sound, with the rest of the word or with the next word. (Don’t repeat the sound you pretended to block on).

Try this exercise out on words starting with a variety of different sounds.  See the second half of the  jumping demo video 1 to check that you are doing it in the correct way.  Click here for the associated text

 

Practical Exercises 3 : Jumping on words starting with vowels

A small number of words start with vowels. You can jump over vowels in the same way as over consonants. However, it can be somewhat more difficult to decide what sound to re-start on. In Exercise 3 you will practice using the same technique as you used for consonants in Exercise 2.

Procedure

Choose a text to read out loud and, this time, highlight or underline some of the words beginning with vowels. You don’t need to highlight all of them, but do select any words that you might normally stammer on and/or any words that are particularly important for the listener to understand the meaning of the text.

Try reading the whole text aloud in the same way as you did in reading exercise 2  …

· Read the text out loud as one normally would when not using any technique at all.

· When you come to a highlighted word, as soon as your mouth is in the position required to begin the first vowel STOP. (this is your pretend block) Don’t use force, don’t repeat or prolong the sound.

· Let go of all of the muscles associated with producing the initial sound you are blocking on.

· Work out exactly what sound you will restart on after jumping over the vowel.

· Once you’ve worked out which sound to restart on, carry on gently, from that sound, with the rest of the word or with the next word. (Don’t repeat the vowel you pretended to block on).

· If the vowel was part of a diphthong, you may be able to  re-start from the second sound of that diphthong (see the paragraph below for an explanation)

See jumping demo video2 to check that you are doing this exercise in the correct way. Click here for the text to this video

Jumping over Diphthongs.

Some vowels (the ones called diphthongs) are actually two vowel sounds stuck together (essentially they are double vowels). You can always recognize diphthongs because you need to move your mouth or lips when making them (in contrast, you can make “simple” vowel sounds without moving your mouth or lips).

For example, the word “I” (“eye”) starts with a diphthong comprised of a combination of /ɑ/ as in “art” followed by /i/ as in “it”. Hence, when you say “I”, you will notice your mouth effectively making the movements for /ɑ/ and then /i/: ɑ...i.

Similarly, the word “a” (as in “ate”) is a combination of /ɛ/ as in “egg” and /i/ as in “eat”.                         

Try them out and you will see!

“I” = ɑ...i

“a” = ɛ...i  

Click here for details of the pronunciations of the phonetic symbols used above

If you find yourself blocking on a diphthong, most likely you will be having difficulty joining the initial vowel sound with the following vowel sound. So, for example, with the word “I”,  you are most likely to have difficulty joining the /ɑ/ sound to the /i/ sound. Therefore, to jump on this word, let go of the /ɑ/, pause briefly, making sure your vocal folds are open, and then start again gently from /i/.  

The word “I” is rarely said in isolation. Usually it forms the beginning of a phrase. So, if you jump over the initial /ɑ/ in “I”, it will sound most natural if after you re-start on the /i/ you continue on with the next word immediately (without stopping).

So, for example if you jump at the start of “I want”, it will sound something like…. “ɑ...iwant”. Try saying a few such examples out loud to get the hang of this. 

Although, theoretically, you can use this same diphthong-splitting approach for all words beginning with diphthongs, in practice it is often a bit too complicated, and it is sometimes easier to jump over the entire diphthong, and to re-start on the following consonant. However, when you need to jump over the word  “I”, because it is so common (and because it is not followed by a consonant), it is indeed worth re-starting from the second vowel sound, rather than jumping all the way to the next word. You can hear some examples where I’ve done this on the word “I” in jumping demo video2.

 

Important points to remember while practicing The Jump

When you anticipate an upcoming block…

· Don’t slow down

· Don’t speed up

· Don’t change what you intended to say.

As soon as you find yourself blocking…

· STOP and “let go” before carrying on with the next sound

· Never use force to try to push through a block. (From now on, you should be jumping over blocks—not pushing through them.)

· Don’t go back to attempt the problem sound again.

When you start again after jumping over the block…

· Start gently (in particular, try not to start with a glottal stop)

No matter how hard you try, you will probably find yourself occasionally pushing, slowing down, avoiding, substituting, repeating and prolonging words— before you realise you are doing it. Don’t worry about it. These are, after all, deeply ingrained habits. The main thing is to stop, let go, and jump as soon as you realise you are blocking.

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