23 Strategies to Help Learners Who Have Trouble Distinguishing the Speech Sounds They Hear

Are you looking for strategies to help students who have trouble distinguishing speech sounds that they hear? If so, keep reading.

1. Get the student’s hearing reviewed if it has not been recently reviewed.

2. Assess the level of difficulty of the information that the student is required to listen to (e.g., /ch/ and /sh/ blends, similar consonant sounds, rhyming words, etc.).

3. Get the student to repeat or rephrase what is said to them to ascertain what was heard.

4. Make sure the student is paying attention to the source of information (e.g., making eye contact, hands free of other learning materials, looking at tasks, etc.).

5. Place emphasis on or repeat /ch/ or /sh/ blends, similar vowel sounds, similar consonant sounds, rhyming words, etc.

6. Talk concisely when communicating with the student.

7. Put the student in the place most appropriate for them to hear what is being said.

8. Minimize distracting stimuli (e.g., noise and motion in the classroom) to enable the student’s capacity and ability to listen successfully.

9. Get the student to keep a notebook with images of words that rhyme.

10. Separate at crucial points when delivering directions, explanations, and instructions to ascertain student comprehension.

11. Find a list of words with /ch/ and /sh/ blends, similar vowel sounds, similar consonant sounds, rhyming words, etc., that the student will practice listening for when someone else is speaking.

12. Stand directly in front of the student when delivering information.

13. Organize a game in which the student tries to mimic the sounds made by the teacher or other students (e.g., Simon Says).

14. Utilize images of similar words to help the student recognize their differences (e.g., if the student has trouble differentiating /ch/ and /sh/ blends, use images of /ch/ and /sh/ words such as chips and ships).

15. Provide the student with simple words and ask them to rhyme them orally with as many other words as possible.

16. Utilize fill-in-the-blank sentences and have the student pick the correct word from a group of similar words (e.g., I ____ (wonder, wander) what is in the box, etc.).

17. Get the student to make up poems and tongue twisters using /ch/ and /sh/ blends, similar vowel sounds, similar consonant sounds, and rhyming words.

18. Show pairs of words and have the student tell if the words rhyme.

19. Explain and demonstrate how similar sounds are made (e.g., where the tongue is placed, how the mouth is shaped, etc.).

20. Get the student to listen to a sequence of instructions and act out the ones that make sense (e.g., bake your head, rake your bread, shake your head).

21. Find the speech sounds the student has difficulty differentiating. Spend time each day having the student listen to sounds and have the student use the sounds in conversation.

22. Teach the student listening skills: • Separate working. • Clear desk of nonessential learning materials. • Attend to the source of information. • Jot down essential points. • Ask for clarification. • Wait until all instructions are received before beginning.

23. Urge the student to watch the lips of the person speaking to him/her.

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