Articulation: Saying Sounds

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The ability to say sounds properly in conversation is important not just to be understood but is also important for spelling. If your child is not saying a sound properly in a word, they may have difficulty spelling it correctly.

By prep children generally have acquired most speech sounds. It is not unusual however for prep children to still have difficulty with sounds such as s,z, l and sometimes k and g

Later developing sounds are th and r it is not unusual for children up to grade 2 to not have these sounds.
When considering the sounds a child is not able to say also consider if English is the child’s first language. If not then consider if the sounds the child is not able to say is in the child’s first language.

Croatian and Vietnamese for example do not have the th sound

Arabic often interchanges consonant pairs such as p and b, k and g (p and g are not commonly used in Arabic).

Greek doesn’t have the sh sound.

How to support articulation development in children

Check to see if your child is able to make the sound correctly on their own if prompted. Talk about where their lips, teeth and tongue need to be.

If this is possible, then start practising the sound in a few words where the sound is at the start of the word, before moving on to sentences. If you are not seeing progress within a few weeks speak to your speech pathologist.

If your child is not able to produce the sound with prompts then discuss this with your speech pathologist. Frequent and regular home practice is important even when working with your speech pathologist

Do not try to work on multiple sounds at the same time.

Do not expect your child to be able to say the sound correctly in conversation if they are still not consistently getting it correct at the word level.


Swan, M. & Smith, B. (1987) Learner English. Cambridge University Press. Great Britain

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