8 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 learner how the mouth looks during pronunciation of the target sound.

2. Create cards with the target sound and cards with vowels. Get the learner 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 learner to tag images of the targeted words. The learner 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 learner.)

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

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

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

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

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

9. Throughout oral reading, underline targeted words and reinforce the learner 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 learner a list of topics. Get the learner 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 learner for accurate pronunciation of the target sound or words: (a) give the learner 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 learner an informal reward (e.g., praise, handshake, smile, etc.).

13. Converse with the learner 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 learner 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 learner 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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