We had a family BBQ last night….and I was lucky enough to meet a really sweet girl from France….she was here visiting with her cousin….a friend of mine….anyway…I started talking to the girl from France….and we started talking about speech…..language…..and the different sounds that different languages have….and she was telling me how she has difficulty in producing the TH sound…..I realized I had not yet written “how to teach the TH sound”…….so nice to meet my new friend from France! Hope this helps…..
The TH sound is one of the later developing sounds in English. We really give kids up until about 8 years of age to master this sound. The TH sound actually is produced two different ways…..one with your voice or motor on as in:this, the, that, there…….and the other with your voice or motor off….as in think and thank. See below for specific strategies for this sound….both voiced and unvoiced. When I work on this sound I also start off by telling the child that this sound is called the “Bagel and Creamed Cheese Sound”…..why….because you want your little one to pretend that her teeth are the bagel and her tongue is the creamed cheese…..and that she has to spread the creamed cheese on the bagel by moving her tongue between her teeth. In my experience this description really seems to help the child to understand what she is doing with her teeth and her tongue.
VOICED TH SOUND
The TH sound is a great sound to work on because it is so visual. When demonstrating or modeling your child can see that you are putting your tongue between your teeth….and when they are practicing, remember it is best to use a mirror…as this provides good visual feedback. When I work on this sound I tell the child to put their tongue between their teeth and then blow. This is pretty simple for them to do….and they will quickly see that they are capable of making this sound.
Have your little one put the palm of her hand in front of her mouth while producing this sound. This will give her tactile information….as she will feel the air on her hand. You can have her practice the sound in isolation…which means just the TH sound. Now remember too…this TH sound is the motor on sound….because your vocal folds are moving….as I said above….as in words such as the, this and that……so…..you can also have your little one feel the vibration on her throat….so that she receives the tactile information……if she is struggling to feel the vibration…..have her feel the vibration on your throat.
Next practice in silly syllables….such as:
the, the, the
thi, thi, thi
tha, tha, tha
tho, tho, tho,
thu, thu, thu
Your next step should be to practice in short phrases….then short sentences….and then longer sentences.
UNVOICED TH SOUND
This is the unvoiced TH sound….so your motor is off….which means that your vocal folds do not move….there is no vibration. You can follow the same cues as above…the only strategy that you will NOT follow is: feeling the vibration on the back of your throat….remember with this sound…your vocal folds are not vibrating….so there is nothing to feel on the back of your throat.
TH WORDS…..SOME VOICED SOME UN-VOICED……