As school based speech-language pathologists, our end goal for articulation treatment focuses on helping students use clear speech in the general education classroom. Ultimately, this carryover of skills during classroom activities affects our students’ academic success.
As the start of the school year draws near—or has already arrived of some of us—I offer five tips on articulation carryover that I always share with teachers and other faculty. These easy approaches will help teachers—and also families—support generalization of articulation skills:
- Model clear articulation: The more the student hears a sound correctly, the more likely they’ll say it correctly. Look for opportunities to model target sounds, especially during small group activities. When modeling for a student, say the sound clearly and naturally.
- Focus on speech sounds: Emphasize the sound a letter makes rather than the letter itself. For example, remind a student to say the “shh” sound, rather the “s” “h” sound.
- Give specific feedback: Give students’ specific feedback for saying sounds correctly. For example, “Wow! I heard TWO sounds when you said the word “spot!” I heard “ssssss” and “puh”! Avoid criticizing a student for saying a sound incorrectly in front of other students. Speaking with confidence is important and providing too much negative feedback—especially in a large group—can make them overly self-conscious.
- Ask for repetition: Asking a student to repeat teaches them that speaking clearly is important without putting them on the spot to say a specific sound correctly. For example: “I didn’t understand, can you say that again?” “What you have to say is important, can you repeat that?” If you still can’t understand the student, encourage them to use a communication strategy like saying the word in a sentence to give context or writing it down. Honor the communication even if articulation is incorrect.
- Highlight target sounds: Underline or highlight the target sound in advance for read aloud or homework activities to reinforce the student’s awareness of the sound in context. This is also a great carryover activity for older students to complete independently.
Everyone at some point needs to work on clear articulation and speaking. It takes practice for children and adults to use precise language in academic and professional settings. Which strategies do you find most helpful? How do you support carryover of articulation targets in the classroom? Please share your ideas in the comment section below.
Kylie Grace Davis, MS, CCC-SLP, is a school based SLP in southwestern Colorado. Her previous clinical experience includes skilled rehabilitation services, mobile modified barium swallow studies and tracheostomy management in long-term acute care hospitals in Denver. firstname.lastname@example.org