Zhi Kai Makes Good Progress!

Silence, shrugs and “don’t know” were common responses when Zhi Kai started speech and language therapy in 2011. In addition to dyslexia, he has significant language impairment. Children with language impairment typically struggle with acquiring various language milestones despite having normal intelligence and receiving regular mainstream education.

Zhi Kai could hardly hold a conversation, both in English and Mandarin. There were frequent misunderstandings as he would mishear words that sound similar. For example, “coke” and “cook” sounded the same to him. He also mispronounced some words due to poor sound discrimination.

Over the course of therapy, he works hard to improve on his listening comprehension skills, sound awareness and basic sentence structure. As he became more aware of his strengths and weaknesses, he also grew in confidence. Zhi Kai shared that he used to dislike going to school. He had experienced years of bullying and had difficulties establishing friendships. Fortunately, he receives much support and encouragement from his close-knit family. Now, with better communication skills, he is more comfortable in approaching his classmates and school teachers. In fact, he has made two close friends whom he is able to share his thoughts with.

In January this year, Zhi Kai received the Edusave Good Progress award. He has moved up his class ranking by at least ten positions last year. We are thrilled at his progress and are glad that his hard work has paid off.


Working with Zhi Kai has been a great pleasure. He is highly motivated to learn and comes for classes even when he is unwell. He will refuse break times, stating that he wants to use every bit of class time for learning. He is mature for his age and despite the challenges he faced with communication and school work, he still maintains a positive outlook in life. With his diligence and positive attitude, we are confident that Zhi Kai will make his mark one day.

Zhi Kai talks about his dream

I have a dream.

My dream is to set up my own business with my school buddies, Zahir and Brendan. My company’s name is BZ and we hope it will one day be as successful as Samsung. We want to create our own branding for all computer and electrical products. We look forward to the day when our products will be known and used globally. Meanwhile, I will study hard as I work towards my dream.

Interview with Zhi Kai

What do you like about speech and language therapy?
I like how Ms. Joyce explains difficult words. She will use gestures and different real life examples to help me understand the meaning of those words and how to use them. It is really helpful when she sometimes uses Mandarin to explain first as my English vocabulary is very weak. I am also much more comfortable to clarify my doubts during therapy as it is a one-to-one setting.

What have you learnt in speech and language therapy?
I have learnt that my pronunciation of some words is unclear because I can’t hear some sounds accurately. In therapy, I learn to identify and join the different sounds that form words. I also learnt that one way to improve my listening comprehension is to have an image or picture in my head as I listen to what people are saying since I tend to forget the words easily.

How have you improved?
I find it easier to communicate with my friends now as I am able to better understand what they are saying. It was really difficult for me to have friends in school as I don’t know how to talk to them. I don’t have the confidence to approach them too. Since last year, I made two close friends whom I can share my thoughts with. My classmates told me that they can better understand what I’m saying now. I no longer fear so much when I have to talk to others.

About the Author:
Joyce Tan
Senior Speech and Language Therapist

This article was first published in FACETS