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Speech Sounds

What is speech?

‘Speech’ is the sounds we put together to form words. These sounds are formed using the lips, tongue, teeth, mouth and nose.

Young children’s speech is often ‘unclear’, i.e. they use wrong sounds in words. It is important to remember:

  • All children develop differently
  • Not all children talk clearly from the beginning
  • Not all children can say all the sounds right away
  • Your child may develop clear speech over time with no help needed

How can I spot unclear speech?

  • You might understand them, but others may not.
  • They may often be asked to repeat what they have said.
  • They may not be able to get their message across.
  • They may become more and more frustrated.
The Coventry Speech Screen

Our speech screen can help parents and staff to work out which sounds a child is having difficulties with before you decide whether or not to make a referral. Use our ;what to expect and when’ handout alongside the screen.

How will speech therapy help my child?

You, your child and the speech therapist will work on the sounds that your child is having difficulty with.

What can I do to help my child talk more clearly?

The most important job you have as a parent is to make your child feel confident and happy about talking.

  • When your child is talking
  • Show them you are listening by looking at them
  • Give them time to talk
  • Remember that what your child says is as important as how they say it
  • At times, when your child has said a word unclearly, repeat the word back to them positively, modelling the correct sounds. For example, if your child sees a car and says “tar!”, respond with “yes you’re right, it’s a car!”

When you don’t understand

  • Do not pretend to have understood – be honest
  • Ask them to show you if they can
  • Ask them closed questions to get more information, e.g. “is it something you want?”; “Is it food?”; “A friend at school or at swimming?”
Developing listening skills

We have resources for minimal pairs in our resources tab or alternatively you can click on the ‘find our minimal pair pictures’ link:

Developing production of sounds

We have resources for speech sounds in our resources tab or alternatively you can click on the ‘find our speech pictures’ link: