Develop clear speech

Some children have unclear or distinct speech, especially in sentences. These children can have unclear speech for a number of reasons:

  • speech is too fast, words run together (especially likely to occur if the child is excited).
  • long (multi-syllabic) words cause difficulty, the child may leave parts of the word out (eg: 'pital' for 'hospital').
  • words beginning with blends (2 sounds together) may be particularly difficult (eg: 'cream', 'blue', 'brush', 'three').
  • the child may not listen to him/herself speaking and therefore may not be aware when his/her speech is clear or unclear.

1. General

  • Encourage your child to always look at the person he/she is speaking
  • Encourage your child to speak slightly slower than his/her normal
  • Model slow, clear speech to your child.
  • Encourage slow and clear speech praising and explaining how easy it was to understand what he/she said when they used slow and clear speech
  • If your child is particularly difficult to understand, encourage him/her to repeat his/her message using good eye contact and slow rate.

2. Special Activities

The following strategies may help your child develop clearer speech.

  • To slow speech down and develop distinct word boundaries make your child aware of the concept of a word. Say a nursery rhyme together and count out the words as you say the rhyme together. Practise saying common sentences together and see how many words are in each sentence, eg: “See you later”, “1, 2, 3, .... 3 words in that sentence”.
  • Practise long (multi-syllabic) words. Practise pronunciation of the words by clapping out the individual syllables, making them very distinct and separate. Gradually making the syllables come together faster, in order to eventually blend the syllables together. Try and make a new or meaningful word out of the syllables (eg: 'purple' + 'purr-pool') talk about the meaning of the words. Practise saying each word separately before combining them.
  • Develop a book of 'tricky' words, each time your child has difficulty pronouncing a word, record it in the 'tricky words' book, place a sticker or a mark next to the word once he/she has mastered the word.
  • It is useful to practise some of the words in short 2 or 3 word sentences, so he/she gets used to pronouncing the word correctly in the context of a sentence. Gradually build up to 3, 4 and 5 word sentences.

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