Speech Therapy Vowels

English has many vowels and diphthongs but they are often overlooked during speech therapy. 

This isn't always done out of neglect. Most children with speech and language disorders are able to say vowels correctly. However, this isn't always the case

Also, vowels can help us shape consonants!

Keeping reading to find out what I am talking about.

Why bother with vowels?!

Since most children start babbling vowels as infants and usually don't need direct teaching with vowels, why do we care about them in speech therapy?

Well, I can think of at least 2 reasons.

  1. Children with apraxia often have trouble with vowels, and when this happens, there aren't a lot of materials out there for you (I'm here to change that!).
  2. Vowels can help us shape/facilitate consonants (keeping reading for more on that).

Start With The Basics

First, we need comprehensive word lists to make materials, review vowels, and find stimuli. Below I have a word list for each vowel.

/æ/

short A

unrounded

front

near open

/ɛ/

short E

unrounded

front

mid open

/ɪ/

short I

unrounded

near front

near close

/ɑ/

short O

unrounded

back

open

/ʌ/ stressed

Short U

unrounded

central

mid open

cap

bed

kick

hot

bug

nap

pet

pin

hop

cub

hat

red

fin

sock

gum

fan

peck

sip

pot

hug

dad

tell

lick

dot

cut

bad

net

tip

lock

bun

sad

web

grin

top

mud

rag

jet

give

job

luck

pan

wet

pick

mom

run

sat

pen

sit

fox

bus

grab

leg

zip

pop

sun

glad

ten

dig

lost

cup

cap

hen

sick

mop

pup

van

vent

hid

cob

glove

mad

tent

bib

knock

dove

lab

dent

hid

box

nut

had

nest

pig

log

up

wag

test

hill

cough

bud

bat

send

grill

lawn

under

/ə/ unstressed

short U

unrounded

central

mid open

/eɪ/

long A

diphthong



/i/

long E

unrounded

front

close

/aɪ/

long I

diphthong



/oʊ/

long O

diphthong



ago

cat

me

cry

cone

away

cake

bee

bye

road

again

late

key

hike

road

across

rake

she

pie

boat

alarm

aid

three

tie

snow

shovel

gray

sea

bike

stove

machine

take

tea

mice

phone

material

rain

eat

lime

globe

award

game

beach

pipe

rose

awake

gate

leaf

kite

toast

animal

wait

teach

time

bone

camel

shake

bean

ice

goat

travel

braid

feet

dime

coach

vowel

nail

sweet

ride

float

capital

plane

teeth

bite

home

account

sleigh

teen

rice

broke

around

hay

baby

night

pony

amount

wave

sunny

hive

donut

towel

flake

worry

slide

window

/u/

long U

rounded

back

close

/ɔ/

rounded

back

mid open


/ʊ/

rounded

back

close


/aʊ/

diphthong




/ɔɪ/

diphthong




cute

saw

book

mouth

boy

food

bought

look

house

choice

tube

caught

good

cow

oil

moon

daughter

should

south

coil

flute

gone

put

pound

foil

room

August

full

pow

voice

pool

author

took

town

point

cube

dawn

could

down

join

dew

stock

hood

out

soil

moose

call

would

power

toilet

soup

stalk

looking

crown

coin

goose

always

woman

brown

boil

stew

thought

sugar

round

joy

roof

fought

stood

count

rejoice

hoop

cough

bush

ours

avoid

tools

long

wolf

shower

noise

tooth

talking

soot

mount

destroy

broom

boss

foot

owl

loyal

chew

father

pull

flower

toy

/ɜ/

stressed

central

mid open


/ɚ/

unstressed

central

mid open


Header
Header
Header

first

after

Cell
Cell
Cell

work

answer

Cell
Cell
Cell

third

color

Cell
Cell
Cell

world

sugar

Cell
Cell
Cell

girl

teacher

Cell
Cell
Cell

turn

other

Cell
Cell
Cell

learn

mirror

Cell
Cell
Cell

search

flour

Cell
Cell
Cell

bird

actor

Cell
Cell
Cell

circle

picture

Cell
Cell
Cell

nurse

surprise

Cell
Cell
Cell

shirt

cheddar

Cell
Cell
Cell

dirty

collar

Cell
Cell
Cell

turkey

speaker

Cell
Cell
Cell

skirt

feather

Cell
Cell
Cell

fur

flower

Cell
Cell
Cell

stir

paper

Cell
Cell
Cell

pearl

daughter

Cell
Cell
Cell

burst

supper

Cell
Cell
Cell
  • rounded - vowels are produced with rounded lips
  • unrounded - vowels are produced with unrounded lips
  • front - vowels are produced in the front of the mouth
  • central - vowels are produced in the middle of the mouth
  • back - vowels are produced in the back of the mouth
  • close- indicates closed mouth, minimal jaw grading
  • mid - indicates mouth somewhat open, medium jaw grading
  • open - indicates mouth is open, max jaw grading 

Shape/Facilitate Consonants Using Vowels

If a child can say vowels correctly, you can use that!

  • placement of tongue in mouth to help facilitate certain consonants
  • jaw grading, how open/closed the mouth is when saying a vowel can help shape certain consonants

Below is a chart indicating if a vowel is produced in the front, middle/central, and/or back of the mouth.

Use this! 

  • Back vowels can help facilitate velar sounds such as /k/ and /g/. You can pick words like "hog" or "cough"
  • Front vowels can help facilitate alveolar sounds such as /t/, /d/, /s/, and /n/. You can use words like "sit."

Front Vowels

Central Vowels

Back

Vowels

/i/ - "eat"

/ə/ - "away"

/ʊ/ - "look"

/ɪ/ - "kick"

/ʌ/ - "bug"

/u/ - "food"

/ɛ/ - "web"

/ɜ/ - "work"

/ɔ/ - "saw"

/æ/ - "hat"

/ɚ/ - "sugar"

/ɑ/ - "hot"

/aɪ/ diphthong or /e/ - "ate"


/oʊ/ diphthong or /o/ - "goat"

Below is a chart indicating if a vowel is produced with the mouth closed, somewhat open, or fully opened.

Use this!

  • high vowels - you can use them to target alveolar sounds since the jaw is up!
  • low vowels - you can use them to keep the jaw open to facilitate velar sounds

Closed Mouth

High Jaw

Mid

Mid Open

Open Mouth

Low Jaw

/i/ - "eat"

/aɪ/ diphthong or /e/ - "ate"

/æ/ - "hat"

/ɪ/ - "kick"

/ɛ/ - "web"

/ɑ/ - "hot"

/ʊ/ - "look"

/ʌ/ - "bug"


/u/ - "food"

/ə/ - "away"


Cell

/ɜ/ - "work"

Cell
Cell

/ɚ/ - "sugar"

Cell
Cell

/oʊ/ diphthong or /o/ - "goat"

Cell
Cell

/ɔ/ - "saw"


Below is a chart indicating if a vowel is produced with rounded or unrounded lips.

I use these all the time!

  • Encourage lip rounding by pairing "sh" and "ch" with rounded vowels
  • Sometimes a child is rounding their lips and you don't want them to! For this, use words with unrounded vowels.

Rounded

Unrounded

/ʊ/ - "look"

/i/ - "eat"

/u/ - "food"

/ɪ/ - "kick"

/oʊ/ diphthong or /o/ - "goat"

/aɪ/ diphthong or /e/ - "ate"

/ɔ/ - "saw"

/ɛ/ - "web"

Cell

/ʌ/ - "bug"

Cell

/ə/ - "away"

Cell

/ɜ/ - "work"

Cell

/ɚ/ - "sugar"

Cell

/æ/ - "hat"

Cell

/ɑ/ - "hot"

Access Vowel Materials

 There is a major need for good vowel speech therapy materials!

These are the new additions at Speech Therapy Talk Membership.

Members

Members, please click below to access your materials.

Non-Members

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References:

  • IPA Vowel Chart
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