Student FAQs

RCSLT in conjunction with a number of the main universities in the UK have put together this list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that students ask, with responses and explanations.

  1. Why are English language requirements so high if English is my second language?
  2. HCPC International Requirements - What are the requirements for written English?
  3. How intensive are the university courses?
  4. Why can't I simply choose my own placement?
  5. What support will I get from the university in developing my communication and professional skills?
  6. What is 'linguistics' and why is it relevant?
  7. I haven't studied psychology before: will that be a problem? Why would I need to study Psychology?
  8. Will I be all right in phonetics?
  9. How do I reference RCSLT publications including CQ Live pages?

Why are English Language requirements so high if English is my second language? 

Speech and Language Therapy courses involve placement training in clinics, hospitals, schools, and clients’ homes. Throughout training, students will need to interact with clients who speak a wide range of British English accents and dialects, and who also have communication problems. A very high score on the IELTS is an essential pre-requisite for this. The entry requirements for courses are related to the language requirements laid down for Speech and Language Therapists by the UK Government’s Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

HCPC International Requirements - What are the requirements for written English? 

Speech and Language Therapists (SLT's) need to communicate with other professionals in formal written English, through such things as case notes and reports. Some medical notes are legal documents and must be correctly worded. You will begin to participate in this process early in your training. Good school-leaving qualifications or other entry qualifications may mean that you have enough skills to begin learning to do this, but if you are uncomfortable with formal written English you should be aware of this professional requirement.

How intensive are the university courses? 

SLT training is more intensive than many undergraduate degrees. An SLT course is a combination of a professional qualification and an academic degree. In addition to a full programme of classes and academic work there is clinical placement. The latter requires preparation time and usually travel time as well as the days spent in clinical settings.

You should think through your own health and family circumstances to decide how you plan to handle the possible challenges, taking personal and university demands together as well as how you would travel to university.

If you are around school-leaving age your social life will be much more limited than some of your peers’!

Why can't I simply choose my own placement?

Placements for SLT training are part of a complex system of professional training, and are provided in a systematic and accountable way to the training institutions. The profession requires a specific 'diet' of different types of placements to be covered by each student. While institutions may sometimes be able to accommodate students’ preferences, there is often very little room for manoeuvre and a certain amount of inconvenience is to be expected. 

You may be placed at a distance from university and need to stay in temporary accommodation. You may be required to pay the travel costs, and possibly the accommodation costs, of placements yourself. If you are a UK resident, any help you receive will depend on the NHS’s assessment of your income.

What support will I get from the university in developing my communication and professional skills? 

Communication skills are vital in SLT. It is a good sign for your application to an SLT course if you communicate well with people of different ages and backgrounds. There will be plenty of opportunity to practise these skills with teaching staff, your fellow students and the clients you interact with on placement. Some of your lecturers will be registered Speech and Language Therapists. They and your supervisors on placement will act as role models to help you develop your individual professional persona.

What is 'Linguistics' and why is it relevant?

Linguistics is usually defined as “the scientific study of language”. In order to be able to assess and provide therapy for clients with language problems you need to be able to analyse various aspects of language. This includes the characteristics of the words that we use, the structure of words, sentences, texts and conversations, and the rules that govern the social use of language.

I haven't studied Psychology before: will that be a problem? Why would I need to study Psychology?

Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and human behaviour. This provides a framework for the systematic study of speech and language, which is a kind of behaviour. You will study core Psychology topics across the broad domains of cognitive and developmental psychology (the machinery of thinking and how it develops in children) and connect these areas of study to what is known about the physical brain. Not having studied psychology before will not be a disadvantage. The theories and concepts that are relevant to speech and language therapy will be covered in an appropriate way for beginners.

Will I be all right in Phonetics?

SLT lecturers are aware that phonetics is not closely related to any subject learnt at school. Even English Language A-level is not closely linked to the kinds of linguistics and phonetics needed on SLT courses.

Phonetics is a mixture of applied theory and practical skills and it is the sort of thing that has to be maintained and practised. Some students find it challenging and the learning curve can seem steep to begin with. The most important thing is to work with others to share understanding and to seek further explanation and support when necessary. 

Practical phonetics involves listening exactly to the speech sounds in a spoken sample, and representing them on paper. Initially SLT students learn how this applies to 'typical' speech, meaning speech that is not affected by disorders. Learning to listen and record how someone is making speech sounds is an important skill for SLT’s working with people with communication difficulties.

For example, say this to yourself: 'I thought he liked her underneath his inhibitions, bless him' – using a natural conversational style of speaking. Now count all the occurrences of letter H in the written version of that sentence. Usually none of these aitches are pronounced regardless of the speaker’s accent or background.

The BBC has a webpage presenting some beginner’s phonetics.