Speech Resources: Articulation and Phonology Checklists

What is phonology? How does it differ from articulation?

Children with speech errors may present with either or both of the following difficulties:

  • Articulation – difficulty in producing individual sounds
  • Phonological – difficulty being able to produce sounds the right way in words

When a child consistently produces the same sounds incorrectly so that an error pattern is identified, this s defined as a phonological process. For example, if a child always replaces “th” with “d” (“this” pronounced as “dis”, “”that” as “dat”) they have a phonological process. Most children use phonological processes when they are young to make it easier for them to pronounce more difficult later developing sounds. As children grow older, they learn sound rules and that saying sounds correctly means that their listener will understand what they want to say. Some children, however, have difficulty developing their sound rules and are unable to say what they mean. These children need help to correct their error patterns.

What does my child say that indicates he/she had a phonological process?

You may notice that your child can say these sounds on their own or in certain words but be unable to say the sounds in particular words. E.g. the child can say the “l” in “love” but cannot say the “l” in “blu” so instead says “bue”.

The child will say these sounds incorrectly in patterns that you can identify e.g. they will always leave the “l” off words that begin with “bl” or they always replace “th” with “d” in words beginning with “th”.

If they can say the sound on its own, why can’t my child say it in other words? Is he/she not trying?

Children do not produce phonological processes on purpose, They want to be understood by their listener but saying these sounds in particular words is difficult for them. Children try to talk to the best of their ability.

How do you know if your child’s communication development is on track?

You may like to read our checklists below which will give you an indication of different age groups and when skills should be emerging.

Please note that these checklists are just a guide. Only a face to face assessment with a fully qualified Speech Pathologist will determine if your child’s speech and language skills are adequate for their age. If you have any concerns about your child’s development feel free to contact one of our speech pathologists who can listen to your concerns and advise you appropriately.

Articulation Checklist:

Children should be able to say the following sounds at these ages:

· 3yrs – h, b, m, n, ng, k, w, d, p
· 3.5yrs – f
· 4yrs – ch, sh, l
· 4.5yrs – s, z, j
· 5yrs – r
· 6yrs+ – v, th

Phonological Processes Checklist:

Phonology refers to a child’s ability to say sounds correctly in words. 

Children should resolve the following phonological processes by these ages:

  • Context sensitive voicing: E.g. ‘pig’ pronounced as ‘big’ - resolved by 3 years
  • Word final devoicing: eg - ‘pig’ pronounced as ‘pick’ - resolved by 3 years
  • Final consonant deletion: E.g. ‘dog’ pronounced as ‘do’ - resolved by 3;3 years
  • Fronting: E.g. ‘ship’ pronounced as ‘sip’ and ‘corn’ pronounced as ‘torn’ - resolved by 3;6 years
  • Consonant harmony: E.g.‘dog’ pronounced as ‘gog’ - resolved by 3;9 years
  • Weak syllable deletion: E.g. ‘television’ pronounced as ‘tevision’ - resolved by 4 years
  • Cluster reduction: E.g. ‘clap’ pronounced as ‘cap’ - resolved by 4 years
  • Gliding of liquids: E.g. ‘rat’ pronounced as ‘wat’ and ‘low’ pronounced as ‘wo’ - resolved by 5 years
  • Stopping ‘f’: E.g. ‘fish’ pronounced as ‘tish’ - resolved by 3 years
  • Stopping ‘s’: E.g. ‘sat’ pronounced as ‘dat’ - resolved by 3 years
  • Stopping ‘v’: E.g. ‘very’ pronounced as ‘bery’ - resolved by 3;6 years
  • Stopping ‘z’: E.g. ‘zap’ pronounced as ‘dap’ - resolved by 4;6 years
  • Stopping ‘sh’: E.g. ‘shoe’ pronounced as ‘do’ - resolved by 4;6 years.
  • Stopping ‘j’: E.g. ‘jack’ pronounced as ‘dack’ - resolved by 4;6 years
  • Stopping ‘ch’: E.g. ‘chew’ pronounced as ‘too’ - resolved by 4;6 years
  • Stopping voiceless ‘th’: E.g. ‘thing pronounced as ‘ting’ - resolved by 5 years
  • Stopping voiced ‘th’: E.g. ‘there’ pronounced as ‘dare’ - resolved by 5 years

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