'sh' sound

'sh' sound

/sh/ Sound

Children usually do not develop speech skills at a uniform pace. As children learn speech sounds, they master these sounds at different rates. For example, the articulation of the /sh/ sound is often particularly challenging for most children. 

Especially for a child with speech difficulty, the /sh/ sound proves to be particularly challenging. Children will be able to say this sound in isolation, but may have trouble using it regularly in words and conversations.

We're going to cover some important details about this critical sound and provide some tips to practice. Let’s get started! 

How the /sh/ sound is spelled?

The sh phoneme sound can be spelled by different letter/letter combinations. The /sh/ phoneme is normally spelled with the letters ‘sh’. E.g. in the words:

  • shake
  • ship

but can also be spelt with the letters ‘ch’, ‘tio’ or ‘cea’ E.g. in the words:

  • ch: chef
  • tio: lotion
  • cea: ocean

sh speech sound development:

By the age of 4-5 years the child is able to say the /sh/ sound in words. Their speech might be unclear to adults who don’t know the child well. Fluency and clarity of the production of sound /sh/ is achieved easily over time in most children. 

How to produce the /sh/ sound correctly? 

The /sh/ sound is made by putting the teeth together and slightly puckering your lips together. The middle of the tongue comes up only slightly and barely touches the roof of the mouth. The front of the tongue dips down a tiny bit, but does not touch anything else in the mouth. And the /sh/ sound is produced when the air releases from the mouth. The /sh/ sound is an unvoiced sound (which means when we make the sound it comes only from the passage of air through the mouth and not from the vibration of vocal cords). Generally, it is best to have your child watch you or an SLP make the sound, then try to copy in the mirror.

If you think you need more practice you can use the Valeo Learning library to practice the /sh/ sound at home. 

Tips to Improve the /sh/ sound production

  1. Identify /sh/ sound in everyday speech

Point out words with /sh/ sound in everyday speech. Try to use these words routinely in your daily conversations. Make it into a game and see who can identify as many /sh/ sound words in all the conversations during the day. 

  1. Correct Vs. Incorrect 

Another game that you can play with your child at home  is the correct vs. incorrect pronunciation. Say the /sh/ sound for your child correctly and incorrectly in different words and then have them identify and spot the difference in the correct and incorrect version.

  1. Fun Activities

While practicing speech sounds keep the activities fun and engaging. Incorporate speech sound practice into activities that your child already loves. For instance if they love playing outside, find a way to work speech sound practice into outdoor games e.g. have your child practice a few sound productions in between each of their turns while playing catch.

  1. Flashcards

You can practice speech sounds with flashcards. Flashcard decks in our learning library include specific words for each of the difficult speech sounds. A child’s speech sound production might improve a lot by saying these words out loud.

  1. Sorting Games

Sorting activities might also encourage speech-language learning skills. These activities help with language learning skills as they mimic the way that our brains naturally learn and store new vocabulary. With games such as the objects sorting game children might learn speech sounds in a fun and engaging way.

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