Children acquire language in a typical pattern – first making isolated sounds, next syllables, followed by words, and eventually children begin to combine words into sentences to express their wants and needs. During this time of language acquisition, children are rapidly learning new sounds. Parents will notice that children don’t yet speak in adult-like dialogue and much of what a child is saying may be unintelligible to unfamiliar listeners. Rapid speech-language development can leave parents wondering, is my child developing appropriately?
The chart below represents ages that most children will acquire certain sounds. Some children will begin to use sounds earlier, and some later.
Articulation Norms by Age:
|Age||Speech Sound||Intelligibility||Warning Signs|
|3-3 ½||m, n, h, w, p, t, k, b, d, g, f, y (yes), tw- (twin), kw- (quick), and most vowel sounds||Approx. 75% intelligible to adults||Child should be understood by parents, caregivers. Should correctly produce vowels and /p, b, m, w/ sounds. Child should repeat/clarify without frustration.|
|4- 4 ½||v, j (jump or giant), gl- (glow)||Approx. 100% intelligible to adults, may still have errors||Child should be understood by familiar and unfamiliar listeners. Should correctly produce /t, d, k, f, g/ sounds. Child should repeat/clarify without frustration.|
|5- 5 ½||s, “sh,” “th” (they) sp-, st-, sk-, sm-, sn-, sw-, bl-, pl-, kl- (as in clap), fl-, tr-, kr- (cracker)||Approx. 100% intelligible to adults, may still have errors||Child should be understood by familiar and unfamiliar listeners the majority of the time. Child should correctly produce the majority of speech sounds. Child should repeat/clarify without frustration.|
|6 years||r, l, z, “ng” (wing), “th” (think), “ch” (check)||100% intelligible, most sounds should be mastered||Child should be understood by familiar and unfamiliar listeners the majority of the time.|
1Bleile, K.M. (2004). Manual of articulation and phonological disorders: Infancy through adulthood, Second edition. Clifton Park,
NY: Delmar Learning.