English article on deaf woman with four languages

An English article reports on a Deaf woman who speaks four languages.

Language is no barrier for hearing-impaired woman

October 22, 2011
By AKI FUKUYAMA / Staff Writer

Kim Surim learned to speak Japanese, English and Spanish after she lost her hearing when she was only 6 years old.
Kim Surim

Today, at Credit Suisse Securities (Japan) Ltd. in Tokyo, the 39-year-old Seoul native talks with her supervisor in Japanese and communicates in English at meetings.

"I cannot hear the voice of my daughter, but I am happy if I can hear the voice of her heart," Kim said of her 3-year-old daughter, speaking in fluent Japanese.

She acquired the three non-native languages by reading people's lips. She learned how to pronounce words by imitating the movements of their mouths. "A life itself means facing up to challenges," she said.

Kim was taken care of by a relative after her parents separated when she was 2.

She came to Japan when she was 12, following her mother. However, her mother was working all day, leaving Kim to an acquaintance.

She learned Japanese while reading manga and novels to ease her loneliness. Kim thought that she might be able to do the same with other languages.

She went to Britain to study English after graduating from high school. She quit a major paper manufacturer when she was in her 20s and learned Spanish while wandering through 30 countries.

She learned how to roll her tongue to pronounce certain sounds by asking conversation partners to show her their tongues.
At one time, she collided with a wall because she was looking at someone's lips while they were walking.

Credit Suisse valued her language skills and hired her four years ago to check whether stock transactions are conducted in compliance with laws and regulations.

Her colleagues are from as many as 30 countries.

This spring, she published a book, "Mimi no Kikoenai Watashi ga Yonkakokugo Shabereru Riyu" (Reasons why I can speak four languages although I cannot hear), from Poplar Publishing Co.

She is donating part of the proceeds to a movement to promote dogs for the hearing impaired.

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