Just as every child learns differently, so to do I believe that they learn articulation sounds differently. You might have a phrase that just clicks with some students, be able to add a little gesture and it works, or teach a concept with manipulatives that the student just gets. I am a very visual learner and like to combine as many different learning styles into teaching sounds so that I can determine what method works for each child. I have compiled my favorite visual resources for teaching articulation so why not expand your teaching style and get a little visual too!
Jane Passy’s Cued Articulation was my first introduction to getting visual. Jane has created a separate hand sign for consonant and vowel sounds which is related to where and how in the mouth the sounds are made. I bought her consonant book online when I took my first SLP job and have used it ever since. They provide an explanation of what to do with the hand and shows pictures of how to make it. You can view a YouTube clip to watch Jane making the sounds and this will give you a good understanding if it might be a resource that you are interested in. Just be aware that some of the vowel sounds may reflect British, not American English. I incidentally use Cued Articulation whenever I teach sounds, and it is amazing how many students independently use it to cue themselves. I particularly like how the hand signs account for place of articulation (shown in the shape and placement of the hand), manner of articulation (shown in the movement of the hand) and voicing (shown by the number of fingers you use). There is also a great piece titled ‘The Role of Cued Articulation in the Classroom’ which can help with RTI planning. If auditory discrimination or minimal pairs is a little too confusing for your child then try using Cued Articulation with the approach to help them hear and see the difference.
Taking photos of yourself and the child making the sound is a great way to capture what you are doing and explain a technique. I particularly like taking photos on my iPad (a smart phone will work too) and using a software (there are many free apps out there, but I use Notability) that you can import the photo and draw or write over the top of it. This way I can highlight rounded lips, draw an arrow to my tongue going up or whatever the desired movement is. These annotations are then great to email to families so that they know what the sound ‘looks’ like.
This app by PocketSLP is worth the money many times over and is such an affordable tool to view what the articulators are doing when they produce a sound. I have tried many a sound elicitation technique on friends and a lot of them just don’t understand what I am asking to do, so I wonder how a child might! With the choice of side and frontal views, speed control and the ability to ‘see’ the air come out, it is really a stand out visual resource. I love that you can pause the video to point out or highlight a certain movement too. I was surprised at just how much I learnt from seeing the visual and it has given me new ideas for teaching sounds. This app provides a description of the sound, palatal diagrams where necessary, sound elicitation tips and the option to record. Speech Tutor also has its own waveform for visually viewing the sound. View it in iTunes.
This is a really great app for visualizing your speech sounds and at only 0.99c has been a solid investment. It is a recording device app, but with the click of a button you can view the screen as an ‘equalizer’ and watch the waveforms of your speech sounds appear. I have done a lot of playing around with this app and it has different applications. Teaching phonological processes is great with this and it works wonders with voicing as the ‘k’ registers little waves and the voiced ‘g’ big waves (the snapshot is me saying ‘g’). This is the same for all voiced/voiceless pairs. Stopping is another process that has great visual impact. When you use fricatives the equalizer shows a nice fuzzy, constant line, but it shows big, sudden intensity when you say ‘d’. For people who present with voice difficulties the waveform also shows visual differences between different types of voice qualities (harsh, rough, breathy etc.). View it in iTunes.