How the Hell Do I Teach, I've Lost My Voice Again
NOTE: If you've already lost your voice and need an immediate cure, go straight to the bottom of this post and get your hands on the Magic Potion, if you're in the early stages then continue reading.
Teaching English in China and South Korea is a lot of fun, but it also comes with its own set of challenges - one of which is losing your voice.
I say China and South Korea, because that's the only experience I've had.
I teach a class of 50 students, sometimes it gets hectic, so I have to shout. If I do that twice or thrice a day, and especially if the weather is changing, it's very easy for me to lose my voice. It starts with a few normal coughs, "no biggie," you say and go about your day. But then there's that teeny-tiny tingly feeling in your throat. That is when you know it's all down hill from there. So this is what I do.
After numerous experiments, trials and errors, I've found the perfect cure for teachers who lose their voice while teaching English in China and South Korea.
But first let's talk about what you can do on a daily basis to keep your vocal cords intact, to stay healthy and happy, and to never have to deal with loosing your voice.
Don't lose it: 3 ways to take care of your voice
1. BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
The most common cause of losing your voice is due to laryngitis, which occurs when the voice box becomes irritated and inflamed. Teachers are most susceptible because we overuse our vocal cords. The best thing is to keep your immune system strong so you don't catch anything; especially during the flu season, and that you can recover faster in case you do develop laryngitis.
How do you do that? Well, eat healthy food. I wrote in my earlier post about what kind of food I get at my school. Take multivitamins, especially vitamin C. Keep hydrated and choose warm water over cold. In China, majority of the people drink warm or hot water. Here's a trick to make it more fun - add a few slices of lemon in your water bottle, which in itself has many benefits (I can write a whole new blog post just about that). Here's the cheat sheet:
- Take multivitamins + Vitamin C daily - Eat healthy food + fruits/vegetables - Keep hydrated (add lemon for fun) - Don't throw away ginger & garlic - Avoid sugar! Avoid greasy food!
2. EXERCISE REGULARLY
This could've been added under Boost your immune system, because regular exercises help produce immune-fighting cells in your body, but I thought I would make this its own category, as staying active is one of the most important elements that can boost your immunity.
I work out three times a week, and swim at least once a week.
I have a healthy diet. I take multivitamins + Vitamin C, and drink at least 2 liters of water (with fresh lemon slices) everyday.
This keeps my immune system strong, and helps me recover faster whenever I start to get that teeny-tiny tingly feeling in my throat.
And don't forget all the dances I do in my grade one and two classes! That alone can keep me fit haha.
3. HERBS, HERBS, AND HERBS
One of the best things of being in China is that you can find numerous herbal medicine that contains no artificial chemicals. They use pure extracts from various herbs, special roots, and stems. It's not like back home where you go to your local pharmacy and they give you a chemically infused product that provides a temporary fix.
Here in China, you can get the real shit, pure herbs, no bullshit.
Lou Han Guo /Monk Fruit (罗汉果)
Lou Han Guo or Monk Fruit is an exotic and rare fruit that has been favored as a remedy for colds and coughs for centuries.
One of my friends thinks it's called Monk Fruit because it looks like a monk's head haha. In fact, it was named after advanced Buddhist practitioners called luohan.
The Chinese call Lou Han Guo the longevity fruit because the steep mountain fields in Guangxi province where it is grown have an unusual numbers of residents over the age of 100!
Chinese herbal syrup Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa (枇杷膏) is a popular remedy for sore throat and cough, and apparently, of American singer-songwriter Jason Mraz as well. The two-time Grammy winner takes a cup of mint tea with the "very delicious" syrup in it during his pre-show rituals.
It's been around for longer than you think.
Pei Pa Koa has its origins in the Qing Dynasty, more than 400 years ago. The mother of a provincial commander suffered from chronic cough, which was cured by a physician's concoction of 15 herbs. The commander was asked to mass produce it for other people, and Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa was created.
And then there's Yuja Cha (柚子茶) - the traditional Korean tea (herbal tea) made by mixing hot water with yuja-cheong (yuja marmalade).
I discovered this amazing remedy while I was teaching English in South Korea. It works wonders. And guess what? It's also a great remedy for hangovers! You can easily find it everywhere in China, including at Walmart.
Interesting Facts about Yuja Cha:
Harvest season: Winter (Nov-Dec) Excellent source of vitamin C Helps suppress coughing Treats the common cold Soothes seasickness Relieves hangovers
"Well, that's all great. But I've already lost my voice. Now what?"
The Magic Potion
I've to give credit to my Chinese co-teacher, Qing Xi aka Serena. She's the one who told me about this ancient Chinese remedy for healing irritated, inflamed, and damaged vocal cords.