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Pronunciation Library

There are 44 phonemes (or speech sounds) in the English language. These speech soundsBlogPronunciationLibrary-Main-Landscape can be broken into the two broad categories of consonants and vowels. When a consonant is produced, the air flow is cut off partially or completely. When a vowel is produced, the air flow is unobstructed. In order to make this wide array of sounds, our articulators do a lot of work! Our articulators include our lips, teeth, alveolar ridge (the ridge on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth), hard palate (the roof of your mouth), soft palate (the back portion of the roof of your mouth), jaw, vocal folds, and last but not least, our tongue. Each speech sound is made by placing these articulators in different positions, pushing through air, and turning our voice on or off.

Each sound has an age range at which it is typically emerging and mastered by. While producing these sounds comes naturally to some children, many children struggle to make certain speech sounds, and describing to a child how to make these sounds with muscles they cannot see can be even trickier! Below is a pronunciation chart of 24 early, middle, and later developing speech sounds and a description of how to make each sound:

PHONEME DESCRIPTION OF PLACEMENT OF THE ARTICULATORS
Early 8 Emerging pronunciation development between ages 1-3, consistent production around 3 y/o
/p/ Press your lips tightly together and push air up into your mouth, feeling the air build up behind your lips. Let the air push your lips apart creating a “pop.”
/b/ Press your lips tightly together and push air up into your mouth, feeling the air build up behind your lips. Turn your voice on and let the air push your lips apart.
/m/ Lightly press your lips together, turn your voice on, and let air flow through your nose, just like you are humming.
/n/ Open your mouth slightly and press the tip of your tongue right behind your front teeth. Turn your voice on and let air flow through your nose like you are humming.
“y” Lightly touch the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth and pull the corners of your lips back. Turn your voice on and then move your bottom jaw down, pulling your tongue away from the roof of your mouth.
/w/ Round your lips and pull them close together in a tight circle. Then, raise the back of your tongue so it touches the roof of your mouth. Turn your voice on and then pull your jaw down and relax your lips.
/h/ Let your mouth rest slightly open. Quickly push breath through your throat.
/d/ Lift the tip of your tongue and place it right behind your top front teeth. Push your tongue, turn your voice on, and let your tongue drop slightly as you let the air burst through.

 

Middle 8 Emerging pronunciation development between ages 3-6.5, consistent production around 5.5 y/o
/t/ Lift the tip of your tongue and place it right behind your top front teeth. Push your tongue and let your tongue drop slightly as you let the air burst through your tongue.
“ng” Lift the back of your tongue to touch the roof of your mouth and turn your voice on, letting the air flow through your nose. Keep your voice on as you pull your tongue down away from the roof of your mouth.
/k/ Bring the back of your tongue up to touch the roof of your mouth while keeping the tip of your tongue down. Push your tongue up and then let a puff of air out between your tongue and the roof of your mouth as you pull your tongue slightly down.
/g/ Bring the back of your tongue up to touch the roof of your mouth while keeping the tip of your tongue down. Turn your voice on as you push your tongue up and then let a puff of air out as you pull your tongue slightly down.
/f/ Place your upper teeth on your bottom lip and push air through.
/v/ Place your upper teeth on your bottom lip and turn your voice on as you push air through your teeth and lip.
“ch” Touch the front of your tongue to the ridge behind your top front teeth and push your lips out (slightly rounding them). Let the sides of your tongue touch your upper back teeth to trap the air. Push a puff of air over your tongue as you let the tip of your tongue fall slightly.
“j” Touch the front of your tongue to the ridge behind your top front teeth and round your lips. Let the sides of your tongue touch your teeth to trap the air. Turn your voice on as you push a puff of air over your tongue as you let the tip of your tongue fall slightly.

 

Late 8 Emerging pronunciation development between ages 5-7.5, consistent production around 7 y/o
“sh” Touch the sides of your tongue to your upper back teeth, tilt the tip of your tongue down, and push your lips out (slightly rounding them). Push air over your tongue and through your front teeth.
“zh” (as in ‘treasure’) Touch the sides of your tongue to your upper back teeth, tilt the tip of your tongue down, and push your lips out (slightly rounding them). Turn your voice on as you push air over your tongue and through your front teeth.
/s/ Put your teeth together, slightly part your lips, lift the sides of your tongue to touch the insides of your top teeth, and bring the tip of your tongue down. Push air down the middle of your tongue and out through your teeth.
/z/ Put your teeth together, slightly part your lips, lift the sides of your tongue to touch the insides of your top teeth, and bring the tip of your tongue down. Turn your voice on as you push air down the middle of your tongue and out through your teeth.
Voiceless “th” Place your tongue between your top and bottom teeth and push air through.
Voiced “th” Place your tongue between your top and bottom teeth and turn your voice on as you push air through.
/r/ Pull the back of your tongue back and up. Press the sides of your tongue to the insides of your upper back teeth and slightly curl your tongue tip up. Turn your voice on and let the air flow through your mouth and over your tongue.
/l/ Lift the tip of your tongue and place it behind your top front teeth. Turn your voice on and let the air flow through your mouth as you let your tongue drop down.

If your child is continuing to struggle with one or many sounds past the age at which the sound is typically mastered by, a speech-language pathologist can help!

[1] Johnson, C., & Horton, J. (2009). Webber Jumbo Artic Drill Book Add-on (Vol. 2). Greenville, South Carolina: Super Duper Publications.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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Sample Activities to Increase Oral Awareness!

Development of oral facial muscles is important for a child to accurately produce speech sounds. Poor coordination and strength of articulators can adversely affect skill development for speech sound production. When looking at oral development it is important to ensure the child is provided a variety of movement opportunities to build a variety of oral skills. Movements should include movements of the jaw, tongue, and cheeks to build strength and coordination.

Father practicing oral awareness with child

Below are sample activities to do at home to increase oral awareness and movement

  1. Gather two sets of 5 items varying in size, texture, shape, and temperature. For example; ice, a tongue depressor, straw, teething toy, and straw. Encourage your child to use each of the objects in oral-exploratory play. Imitate your child’s movements and comment on what your child is doing and how it makes the mouth feel.
  2. Mirror play! Have your child sit with you in front of a mirror. Explain that you will be playing a “clown” game. Feel free to dress up in silly hats or clothes to play the game! Instruct your child that you will be taking turns making silly faces in the mirror and copying each other. With your models, make sure you do a variety of tongue movements. Stick your tongue out, move it side to side, lift up the tip up to touch your nose. Have your child practice the movement 2-3 times before it is his or her turn to put the clown hat on.
  3. Play musical “chairs”. Choose objects around the house that include a target sound. For example if the target sound is “b” you could find a book, bear, bottle, bread, and bowl. Place pieces of paper on the floor, with the item on the paper, in a circle. Have the child walk from sheet to sheet until the music stops. Once the music stops, have your child say the target word they land on. You can also write the word on the pieces of paper to increase print sound awareness.
  4. Cut an egg carton in half lengthwise, turn it upside down, and color or paint each of the 6 protruding sections a different color. Next, find a puppet or an animal with a large mouth. Find small “food” items to feed the puppet. These could be marbles or pretend food. Tell your child that you are going to sing silly songs to help feed the very hungry animal! Model a sequence of three sounds varying in intonation tapping the egg cartons to pace each sound as they are sung. Different intonation patterns can include rising/falling pitch or increase/decreased loudness on individual sounds. For example, “ ba BA ba”. Think of the NBC studio signature tone. Once the silly song is imitated you can feed the hungry animal! Using rhythm and a singsong voice has been proven to help facilitate speech output.

These activities will encourage oral motor development in a fun and exciting way. Your child will be learning and exploring and improve his oral awareness in the process!