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Get to Know Your Speech Sounds: Introduction (Part 1)

Get to Know Your Speech Sounds is a collection of Handy Handouts exploring the different sounds of English. Many children with speech sound disorders focus on producing one or a group of these sounds. Here are three big ways speech sounds are described.
Place of Articulation
Where is the sound produced?
  • Bilabial – two lips together (/p/, /b/, and /m/)
  • Labiodental – lip and teeth together (/f/ and /v/)
  • Interdental – tongue between the teeth (“th”)
  • Alveolar – tongue on alveolar ridge, which is the boney ridge behind the top, front teeth (/t/, /d/, /n/, /s/, /z/, /r/, and /l/)
  • Postalveolar – tongue behind the boney ridge (“sh”, “ch”, and “j”)
  • Palatal – tongue on the hard palate, which is the hard part of the roof of the mouth (“y”)
  • Velar – the back of the tongue on the velum, which is the soft part of the roof of the mouth (/k/, /g/, and “ng” as in “ring”)
  • Glottal – vocal folds together (“uh” as in “uh-oh” and /h/)
Manner of Articulation
How is the sound produced?
Air travels through to the articulators in different ways that impact speech, as a horn player changes their breath to produce different kinds of notes.
  • Stops – A sound is made with a build up and release of air in one short burst (/p/, /b/, /t/, /d/, /k/, /g/, and “uh” as in “uh-oh”).
  • Nasals – The soft palate moves down and air flows through the nose (/m/, /n/, and “ng” as in “ring”). When you are sick and stuffed up, air cannot flow through the nose, and these sounds cannot be made; that’s what makes you sound funny!
  • Fricatives – Air flow is sustained through a narrow opening in the articulators (/f/, /v/, “th”, /s/, /z/, “sh”, and /h/). You can make these sounds for a long time.
  • Affricatives – A sound is made by a build up and release of air, followed by air flow, like a stop/fricative combo (“ch” and “j”).
  • Liquids – Air flows around the tongue (/r/ and /l/).
  • Glides – Air flows freely, being stopped only slightly by the tongue and lips (/w/ and “y”). These sounds are very similar to vowels.
Is the voice “ON or OFF”?
Vocal folds are located in the throat. Air flows through the vocal folds when producing speech.
  • When voice is OFF, the vocal folds are not vibrating together when air flows through (/p/, /t/, /k/, /f/, /s/, “sh”, “ch”, and /h/).
  • When voice is ON, the vocal folds are vibrating together and sound is produced (/b/, /d/, /g/, /m/, /n/, “ng” as in “ring”, /v/, /z/, “j”, /r/, /l/ /w/, and “y”). Put your hand to your throat and feel your vocal folds vibrating!
ASHA. n.d. “Selected Phonological Processes.” American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Roth, F. P., and C. K. Worthington. 2018. Treatment Resource Manual for Speech-Language Pathology. Fifth Edition. Plural Publishing, Inc.

*Handy Handouts® are for classroom and personal use only.
Any commercial use is strictly prohibited.

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