Articulation skills: the mechanics of speech.

Articulation skills: the mechanics of speech.Articulation is simply the process of how sounds are made.  Sounds such as consonants and vowels are what make up words.  Sounds are made by shaping air with our "articulators" ( tongue, teeth, lips, jaw) so that the frequency and pitch are altered.  Different sounds are made in different ways; some are made with the lips (p, b, m) some are made by placing different parts of the tongue on different locations in the mouth or by changing the shape of the tongue.  Sounds can be voiced (d, g, z, b, dz) with the voice box "turned on", or unvoiced (t, k, s, p, ch, sh), made in the same way as it's voiced counter part but with the voice box turned off.  
This page will have the basics of how a variety of sounds are made.  I hope it will be a useful reference to anyone who is helping a child learn how to make his or her sounds properly.

There are several sounds tend to be more difficult for young children to make.  A description of some of these sounds and how to make them correctly follows.
The "R" sound
The /r/ sound is one that is commonly produced incorrectly as /w/.  It is made by pulling the tongue up and back, between the top back teeth.  If you "chew" on the sides of your tongue with your molars you can feel the exact spot.  The air is forced over the tongue while the voice box is turned on; "er".  How to make the /r/ sound.

YouTube Video


The "L" sound
The /l/ is another sound commonly made as "w".  It is made by placing the tongue tip behind the top front teeth, at the roof of the mouth.  The air flows along either side of the tongue. It is voiced; the voice box is turned on. What follows is a link to a video that demonstrates this.  How to make the /l/ sound

YouTube Video



The "S" sound
The /s/ sound is often "lisped" so that it sounds more like a /th/.  ("Yeth, I thee it.")  It is made with the teeth together, slightly apart, and the tongue raised to the roof of the mouth, just shy of touching it.  The air is focused directly out of the front of the mouth, directed at the front top teeth.  The /z/sound is made in the same way, except the voice box is turned on while the air is moving out.  Here is a link to a that demonstrates the production of /s/.  How to make the /s/ sound.   At the bottom of the page is a file of a tips and techniques for making and teeaching the /s/ sound as well

YouTube Video



The "Th" sound
The /th/ sound is often made as a /d/ ("Look at dis.") if it is voiced, or as /f/ ("Fumbs up.") if it is unvoiced.  To make the /th/ sound the tongue sticks out slightly between the teeth, top teeth slightly off the tongue, and the air is blown straight out of the mouth and over the tongue. 
Following is a video on making the Unvoiced /th sound;   How to make the /th/ sound. 

YouTube Video


This shows how to make the Voiced /th/ sound;   How to make the Voiced /th/sound.

YouTube Video


And finally, a video to show the difference between Voiced and Unvoiced /th/;   The difference between Voiced and Unvoiced /th/.

YouTube Video



The "Sh" sound
The /sh/ sound is the "quiet" sound.  A common error is to say /s/ instead of /sh/ ("I have new "sues" on my feet.").   To make /sh/, the tongue is pulled back from the teeth, while the  teeth are close together but not closed with lips puckered out. The air moves forward over the tongue directly out of the front of the mouth, between the teeth.  How to make the /sh/ sound. 

YouTube Video


The "Ch" sound
The /ch/ sound is often made as a /sh/ sound. ( "I sit in a sair.") It is actually made as a combination of a /t/ and /sh/.  The tip of the tongue is up behind the top teeth, touching the roof of the mouth and blocking the air. While the tongue is blocking the air, the lips and teeth are   positioned to make /sh/, with the lips puckered and teeth slightly opened.  Once the air has built up behind the tongue, the tongue is pulled back and the air allowed to come between the teeth.  This happens naturally when the mouth is opened.  How to make the /ch/ sound.

YouTube Video




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Judy Sternal,
Jun 13, 2014, 9:09 AM
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