What are speech sounds?
Speech sounds are the vocal sounds we use to make up the words of the English language. We use them every time we say a word out loud. Saying the right sounds in the right order is what allows us to communicate with other people and understand what they are saying.
It can help to differentiate speech sounds from the alphabet. For example, in English, the alphabet is made up of 26 letters. The 44 speech sounds in English are the pure sounds that letters make when spoken, not related to the name of the letter.
Helping children to understand different speech sounds can be a really beneficial part of speech development.
How do I support my child with speech development?
When children are learning to speak, things like speech sounds can be really complex and overwhelming. Here are some ways that you can support your children with speech development.
- Phase out dummies and bottles as soon as possible
- Be face to face when you talk
- Encourage the child to look at you
- Slow down your own speech
- Focus on what your child says rather than how it’s said
- Model back the correct sounds but don’t expect your child to repeat it (e.g. If your child says “tat” you could say “that’s right, it’s a cat”)
- Confirm what you DO understand
- Acknowledge your child’s feeling e.g. if they are frustrated
- Avoid overcorrecting
- Ensure your child is face watching when an adult says a word as this will ensure they can see how the sound and words are formed