18 Hacks to Help Kids Who Mangle Words or Sounds While Talking

Are you looking for hacks to help kids who mangle words or sounds while talking? If so, keep reading.

1. Utilize a schematic drawing as a visual aid to show the student how the mouth looks during pronunciation of the target sound.

2. Create cards with the target sound and cards with vowels. Get the student to combine a target sound card with a vowel card to make a syllable that they can pronounce (e.g., ra, re, ro, and ar, er, or).

3. Utilize a board game that requires the student to tag images of the targeted words. The student needs to pronounce the targeted words accurately before they can move on the game board. (This learning experience can be simplified or expanded based on the level of expertise of the student.)

4. Give the student a list of the targeted words. Get the student to practice the words daily. As the student masters the word list, add more words. (Using words from the student’s everyday vocabulary, reading lists, spelling lists, etc., will enable transfer of correct pronunciation of the target sound into everyday speech.)

5. Get the student to use phonics “fun ” sheets to practice their sound orally. These are also excellent for home practice.

6. Get the student to keep a notebook of complicated words encountered each day. These can be practiced by the student with a teacher or peer assistant.

7. Get the student to use a carrier phrase combined with a word containing the target sound (e.g., “I like __.” “I see a _.”).

8. Get the student to keep a list of all the words they can think of that contain sounds the student can pronounce accurately.

9. Throughout oral reading, underline targeted words and reinforce the student for correct pronunciations.

10. Include parents by asking them to rate their child’s speech for a specific duration of time (e.g., during dinner count “no errors,” “a few errors,” or “many errors”).

11. Show the student a list of topics. Get the student to choose a topic and then give a spontaneous speech for a specific length of time. Count errors and suggest ways for them to improve.

12. Praise the student for accurate pronunciation of the target sound or words: (a) give the student a concrete reward (e.g., privileges such as leading the line, handing out learning materials, 10 minutes of free time, etc.) or (b) give the student an informal reward (e.g., praise, handshake, smile, etc.).

13. Converse with the student to explain what they need to do differently (e.g., make sounds more precisely). The teacher should be careful to use the sound that is being targeted and not the letter name (e.g., /s/not “s”).

14. Assess the appropriateness of requiring the student to accurately pronounce specific sounds (e.g., developmentally, specific sounds may not be pronounced accurately until the age of 8 or 9).

15. Get the student to write sentences using targeted words.

16. Read The Edvocate’s Guide to K-12 Speech Therapy.

17. Consider using a language development app. Click here to view a list of apps that we recommend.

18. Consider using an assistive technology designed to support students with articulation disorder.

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