If you’ve decided to learn how to read lips, congratulations! This new skill will help you in many real-life situations. Soon, you will be able to participate in conversations no matter how noisy the room is, or how hard it typically is for you to hear. But how can you tell when you’ve achieved lip reading fluency? Here is a quick guide to help improve your lip reading skills and how to know when you’ve nailed it.
- Be Patient - This is the most important thing to remember whenever you are learning a new skill. Learning means occasionally making mistakes (it’s fine, everyone does!) and trying over and over again until you get it right. Learning to read lips requires patience and practice. Lipreading essentially works like a muscle - the more you use it, the stronger it will become. If you’re having trouble remind yourself that it’ll be worth it in the end, so keep trying!
- Use It Every Day - Just like when you’re learning a foreign language, the best way to achieve fluency with lip reading is to use it constantly. This means even in situations when you typically wouldn’t rely on reading lips, you should try it out. You may have a tough time with this at first, and find yourself continuously asking people to speak up or relying on your hearing. If you're with friends and family who know that you are trying to learn to read lips, you might want to try putting in headphones and playing some music while they talk. This will help you to focus on people’s lips as they speak, and ensure you are able to work on relying on your lipreading skills alone.
- Turn Down the TV - If you want bonus practice, use your television! In the beginning, it can be helpful to flip to a show you know well or an episode you’ve watched before so you can follow the plot pretty easily. Try and follow the dialogue purely by reading lips. If you have trouble, you can turn on closed captioning to check your understanding, but be careful not to rely too much on the text. This can also be a great way to learn to understand more specialized language. Do you need to learn medical terms, legal terms, food words, or something similar? Luckily, there are so many channels with a lot of shows to choose from to help. Find a program that uses the terminology you use frequently and start practicing reading lips using that show.
- Use Lipreading.org’s Modules - These modules are designed specifically to advance your lip reading skills. Every time you log on to the site you will be presented with real-world scenarios so that you gain practical lip reading fluency. Lipreading.org also gives you a variety of different exercises so you can track your progress and get a real sense of where you are in your quest for fluency. You can also learn at your own pace and review modules that you find particularly challenging. With a growing list of situations for you to practice with, these challenges will keep you engaged and interested while you learn.
- The Lipreading Challenge! - Think you’re fully fluent? Now is the time to test it out! Try and think of a situation you avoid or dislike because it is hard to hear. This could be a crowded restaurant, loud party, or something simpler like a family dinner. Put yourself in that situation and test out your lip reading skills. If you want to practice with another lipreading student using a webcam, try our live lipreading practice. This game will match you with another person who uses Lipreading.org to try and guess what sentence the other person is saying.
You can also try out your skills by watching your favourite "talking head" show on YouTube with volume turned off. Some great channels to try are YouTube Crash Course and Mental Floss. If you find yourself struggling, keep trying! The more you work with it, the better you will be if you give it time.
There is no time like the present to get started! Learning to read lips can open up a new world of opportunities and give you confidence in situations that you used to find stressful. Try to challenge yourself to study and practice every day, and before you know it you’ll be fluent!