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help needed- child can't say certain short vowel sounds

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by noo72, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. Hi, I am currently teaching a child who has just turned 6 and has difficulty with producing vowel sounds. She cannot say /e/ (says /a/ instead) so 'bed' sounds like 'bad'. Her auditory discrimination seems ok, though, as she is able to distinguish between /e/ and /a/ in her spelling. Any advice?
     
  2. languageisheartosay

    languageisheartosay Occasional commenter

    It is unusual to have e/a problems: e&i or a&u are closer pairs. Sometimes there is a regional accent (or English from elsewhere) influence/confusion. To make short-a and short-e different, the most basic change is that the mouth is more open for /a/. If you sequence /a/ /e/ /i/ you can feel the mouth 'closing'.
    When you say her auditory discrimination seems ok, is she spelling what <u>you </u>are saying or doing free writing. If you are giving a word in context, or she is writing on a topic, recall for the look of the word may be helping. I wouldn't be sure about discrimination unless the child could pick out lots of examples correctly from many pairs of words like bed/bad pet/pat met/mat etc. with no context clues and whichever order you say the word. You may of course have tried this but not said so!
     
  3. Wotton

    Wotton Lead commenter

    Has she been seen by the speech therapist at all or is it just vowel sounds she has difficulty saying.
     
  4. No regional accent that could be causing confusion. No SLT involvement either. She doesn't substitute a for e when she writes. I'm pretty sure she must be able to 'hear' /e/ when I say it . If I asked her to orally segment 'bed' she would say 'b-a-d' and write 'bed'. But if I asked her to segment 'bad' she would say 'b-a-d' and write 'bad'. If I display all the vowels and say each letter sound, she can point to the corresponding letter with ease. Sorry to be a bit slow, but could you give a little more detail about how I could asses this issue out of context', please? Thanks for your posts.
     
  5. ps Just had a thought, following on from the point about open mouth and /a/ sound... in the past I have used a mirror to help draw attention to mouth shape when saying some sounds. This could help here, perhaps.
     
  6. languageisheartosay

    languageisheartosay Occasional commenter

    When doing spelling tests it is ideal to say e.g. bed : I sleep in a bed - bed (this gets round the problem that we have many slight differences in the pronunciation of English vowel sounds). In a story, or in association with a picture, it is usually clear which word of a similar-sounding pair is meant.If you lay out a random array of flashcards of the minimal pair type you need (bad/bed mat/met lad/led...) and say a word on its own where the child can't see your face (avoiding face-reading and eye-pointing clues), then I would say you are assessing the discrimination out of context. Sorry I didn't explain more clearly before.
    Yes - you can try looking in a mirror. Have to be careful to avoid making the child self-conscious! If you have any of those tiny recorder 'postcards', she could try sequencing a pair of words 'pat pet pat pet' and listening to say if she made them different.
    You are right though that some children sequence a word for you using the error sound and then write the word correctly - this often happens with f and th. One presumes there is storage of the look or correct sound in the brain!!!
     
  7. Thanks. That's a big help. Can I also ask, would you be quite explicit in this situation and explain to the child that one of her targets is going to be saying the /e/ sound really clearly, or is it a no-no to point out these errors explicitly (in terms of self esteem/ confidence).
     
  8. languageisheartosay

    languageisheartosay Occasional commenter

    I would say it's essential to know what the target is. It's the way you put it that matters - and I'm sure every teacher has a way of praising good things and pointing out which other things could be improved. If you use barrier games, or take turns at saying one of the words you have put out you will have a chance to say you aren't quite sure what the child said ('Was that <u>bed</u> or <u>bad</u>? I couldn't be sure. Please can you say it again.') Personally, I never say an attempt was correct if it wasn't - but there are ways of not sounding too negative!
     
  9. RJR_38

    RJR_38 New commenter

    I had a child last year with the same problems with e/a and it is a quite common pattern according to the speech therapist - it is all to do with the shape of the mouth and the height of the chin when saying the sound. I know we had to do exercises with her putting her hand under her chin to try and feel the difference (try it yourself you will see what I mean) and we had to do al ot of work on mouth shapes and strengthening the mouth muscles.
    It might be that she needs referring to a therapist t get a programme you coudl carry out for her.
     

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