Introduction to Speech Sound Development

Introduction to Speech Sound Development

Do you ever wonder if your child or student’s pronunciation skills are appropriate for his/her age?  As a speech-language pathologist, I’m often asked about typical speech development by concerned parents and teachers.  Today’s blog post is intended to address this area.  Whether you currently have concerns or not, this blog post will help you to monitor your child’s pronunciation skills.

To start, it’s important to understand what is meant by “speech.”  Speech is the way we make and pronounce sounds and words.  Speech is different than language, which is the way we communicate.  For more information on the differences between speech and language, check out this post.

Typical Speech Development

Although all children develop at different rates, there are generally accepted ages at which children are expected to correctly say different sounds.

Disclaimer: The information in this post is related to correct pronunciation of English consonants for monolingual English speakers in the US.

Between the Ages of 2 and 3

On average, children between the ages of 2 and 3 are able to correctly pronounce 13 different consonant sounds.  These sounds are: P, B, M, D, N, H, T, K, G, W, NG, F, Y.

Age 4

Typically 4-year-olds can correctly say 7 different consonant sounds.  These sounds are: L, J, CH, S, V, SH, Z.

Age 5

When children are 5, they are expected to say R, ZH, TH (voiced) correctly.  Voiceless TH is expected at age 6.

If your child or student’s speech sound development does not align with the aforementioned age expectations, it is recommended that the child be evaluated by a speech-language pathologist to determine if there is a speech delay or disorder.

 

Reference: McLeod, S. & Crowe, K. (2018). Children’s consonant acquisition in 27 languages: A cross-linguistic review. American Journal of Speech-Language
Pathology. doi:10.1044/2018_AJSLP-17-0100

Courtney Caruso
Courtney Caruso
Courtney Caruso, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a bilingual (English/Spanish) speech-language pathologist and the owner and founder of Liberty Speech Associates LLC, a speech therapy practice in NJ and PA.