articulation therapy

Articulation Therapy /w/ sound

Articulation Therapy /w/ sound

This article is on Articulation Therapy /w/ sound.

Development of /w/ sound

Children normally master/w/ sound pretty early in their development. They generally start to produce /w/ sound clearly by around 2 years of age and master it completely by around 3 years. If a child does not produce /w/ sound clearly even after 4 years, then the child may require help from a speech-language pathologist to correct his/her speech sound. Through articulation therapy, the speech therapist will work on the error sound and teach the right way of its production.

What is /w/ sound?

The /w/ sound ( in well, week, one, etc.) is known as a glide or a semi-vowel. This is because unlike a consonant it sounds a lot similar to a vowel when it is produced. However, its production requires a greater restriction in the vocal tract as compared to the vowels.

How is it produced?

The /w/ sound is a labio-velar approximant. This means that you round your lips and form a narrow space at the back of your mouth with your tongue to make this sound.

The major articulators involved in its production are the jaw, lips, tongue, and velum.

We need to understand that it is the position of the lips and the tongue that matters the most in its production. The jaw is in an almost closed position. The lips are pursed and the tongue is raised to the roof at the back of the mouth. Thus creating two narrow cavities; one between both the lips and the other between the tongue and the roof of the mouth.

Furthermore, /w/ is a voiced sound. This means that the vocal folds vibrate during the production of this sound. The sound created from the vocal folds then passes through the narrow cavities created by the tongue and the lips to produce the /w/ sound.

Articulation therapy /w/ sound:

How to teach?

Teach the sound in progression. Initially, teach the sound in isolation/sound level, then syllable, word, phrases/sentences, and then in the conversation level.

  1.  Establish the sound in isolation:

  • In the beginning, teach the child to produce /w/ sound by pursing the lips out (away from the face, like a kissing face) with the tongue raised high close to the roof of the mouth and by producing the sound from the vocal folds.
  • If it is difficult for the child to approximate the sound, we can encourage him/her to start making sounds from ‘ooo’ (as in too) and then saying ‘uh’ by moving the lips apart (sounding like ‘ooouh’).
  • Practice it many times until the child gets the gliding movement easy and fast to get the /w/ sound right.

While we work with the sound in isolation, it is important to give the child as many cues as possible to get a complete understanding of how the sound is made.

These cues include:

Visual cues:

Encourage the child to look at your face and watch how the articulators (jaw, lips, tongue) look like while producing the sound. When we produce /w/ sound, the lips are pursed like a kissing face. In the beginning, let the child practice making a kissing face by pouting lips outward like a tight ‘o’. Then, point to the lips while making the /w/ sound.

Verbal cues:

As we demonstrate the production of the sound, verbally explain how it is produced. You may exaggerate the mouth movement and produce the sound slowly to make it easier for the child to understand.

Tactile/kinesthetic cues:

Let the child understand how the production of this sound feels like. /w/ is a voiced sound and it involves the vibration of the vocal folds. Initially, try placing your hand on your throat while making the sound. You may feel a vibration as the voice is turned on. Then, have the child keep his/her hand on your throat and feel this vibration. Once the child understands this, let them keep their hand on their throat and learn to turn their voice on.

2. Building the sound at the syllable, words, sentences, and conversation level:

Once a child learns to produce the sound in isolation, we need to practice the sound in utterances of various levels of complexity. That is, in syllable level, different word positions, sentences, and further in longer utterances as in conversation.

In all the levels, intensive drilling needs to be done by repeating the utterance several times without making the activity feel boring.

Syllable level:

Here, teach the child to produce the sound in combination with a vowel (before/after the sound). Pair the sound with all the different vowels. The idea is to make the child produce the consonant-vowel combination together in one go. Do this in a playful way. Have the child make the syllable by clapping hands together or by tapping on the table.

Use a syllable wheel to make the practice more interesting and engaging to the child. It also gives a visual cue to the child.

A few examples include ‘we, we, we’, ‘ew,ew, ew’.

Click here to know more about using the syllable wheel in articulation therapy.

Word level:

The first task at this level is to prepare separate lists of words with the /w/ sound occurring at the different word positions that are, word-initial, medial, and final positions. :

Here are a few examples for the words with /w/ in the:

  • Initial position: where /weə/, we /wiː/, world /wɜːld/
  • Medial position: away /əˈweɪ/, someone /ˈsʌmwʌn/
  • Final position: ‘rainbow’, ‘saw’, ‘now’ etc

Click here to know more about how to make the word list.

Present the words from the word list through various modes; read the words out or name the pictures of the words. Make this more interesting for the elder kids by having them guess the words from the clues.

For example: Ask the child to guess the coldest season and the child must answer winter.  The child and the caregiver/therapist can take turns and ask questions to each other.

Another interesting game to practice the words is through picking the chits.

Write down words with the /w/ sound in all three positions on chits. We can also use pictures instead of words. Put all the chits in a box and mix well. The child/caretaker takes turns and tells the words one by one.

Phrases/Sentence level:

In the beginning, introduce the sound in shorter phrases/sentences with 2-3 words. Make silly sentences with the words from the wordlists. Later, introduce more words to make longer sentences and paragraphs.

Here are a few examples of phrases using /w/ sound:

  • Walk away
  • Wide awake
  • Covered wagon

Here are a few examples of sentences using /w/ sound

  • I want waffles for breakfast
  • She puts money in her wallet.
  • This is the new watch.
  • It was their wedding on Wednesday.

At the later stage, introduce stories targeting the /w/ sound. While reading the stories to the child, stress on the target words/phrases and read them slowly.

So many books are available targeting the /w/ sound in words and sentences.

Kids enjoy reading books and listening to their parents read books.

Here is a list of a few books targeting /w/ sound:

Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s Farm, Winter Wonderland, Waiting for wings.

Conversation level:

When the child is able to make the sound correctly in sentences then we move into conversation level. This is the most challenging level as it is difficult to monitor each and every word that we say.

Let the child talk about their favorite things. We can also show them pictures of scenes loaded with words with /w/ sound and encourage them to talk about it.

Encourage your child to speak slowly and to pay more attention to the words. Ask the child to listen to his own production of the sound. Give gentle reminders to correct the sound or to repeat the word again whenever the child mispronounces.  Withdraw these reminders/additional prompts gradually. In the final stage, encourage the child to monitor himself/herself without your support.

Please note that the above-mentioned steps are just one way of teaching speech sounds. It is always better to consult a speech-language pathologist and take their opinion first before working with the child to avoid any possible difficulties.

I hope this article helped you to understand more about articulation therapy of /w/ sound. Please leave your feedback and/or queries in the comment section below. Hope Articulation Therapy /w/ sound was useful.

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