Teaching G in Isolation & Syllables

In this lesson, you will be learning how to teach your child ‘G’ in isolation and in syllables.

As you can see by the attached image, this chart puts ‘G’ at about age 4 for most children.  In other words, by age four, 90% of children can produce the ‘G’ sound correctly in speech.

However, I believe in working with children as soon as possible so they don’t develop bad speech habits.

The ‘G’ sound is sometimes mispronounced by young children as ‘D’.  Your child may say ‘doe’ instead of ‘go’, or ‘dod’ instead of ‘dog’.

The ‘G’ sound is produced in the back of the mouth, when the back of your tongue pushes off against the very back top of your mouth.  If your child produces ‘D’ instead, he is doing what is called ‘fronting’ – or making a ‘back’ sound in the front of his mouth instead.  He may also be producing ‘T’ instead of ‘K’, because these sounds are just the voiced versions of ‘D’ and ‘G’.

To teach your child to produce ‘G’ correctly, you need to prevent him from keeping his tongue in the front.  If he can already produce the ‘K’ sound, then it will be much easier to teach him ‘G’.  Tell him that the only difference is that with ‘G’, his voice should be on.  If he touches his neck while making it, he should feel his neck vibrate.

If he can’t make the ‘K’ sound,  you may have to bring out a tongue depressor, or a lollipop.  Put the depressor behind his teeth but in a vertical position, more vertical than the photo shows here.  You want to block his tongue from coming forward and touching his teeth.    Ask him to try to say ‘gah’.  Most likely, his tongue is going to come forward and he’ll try to say ‘dsah’.  Tell him to try to keep his tongue in the back of his mouth when he does it.

If you have a mouth hand puppet like ‘Mr. Mouth’ (my name for it), you can use it to help show the correct tongue placement.   Or you could use the tongue depressor or lollipop to touch the correct area in the back top of his mouth.  Try not to make him gag!

You can let him hold the tongue depressor so that he feels like he has control over the process.  As he gets comfortable, scoot the tongue depressor back a ½ inch or so, moving the tongue further back, until he can make the ‘G’ sound correctly.

He probably won’t get this right away.  You may have to practice this over the course of several days or weeks, until putting his tongue in the back of his mouth feels more natural to him.  Continue to practice these techniques, encouraging a good ‘G’ sound in isolation. 

 

It can also help to show him pictures of words that are ‘minimal pairs’.  That just means that these words rhyme and are pronounced the same way except for one letter.  So if your child is making ‘D’ instead of ‘G’, you could show him a picture of a ‘deer’ vs a ‘gear’.  Ask him if those pictures are the same thing, and then explain that unless he makes the ‘G’ sound correctly, people might think he’s talking about ‘deer’.  You can have him try to say each word, and you can point to whatever comes out of his mouth.  If he wanted to say ‘gear’, but says ‘deer’ instead, you would point to the ‘deer’. 

You can also try this exercise with you saying the words ‘deer’ or ‘gear’, and see if your child points to the right word that you said.  This will let you know if he can actually hear the difference between the two sounds or not.  Point out that the ‘D’ sound is made up behind the front teeth, and the ‘G’ sound is made way in the back of his mouth.

When your child can produce ‘G’ in isolation with 80% accuracy, you can start on syllables, like ‘Gah, Gay, Gee, Gye, Go, and Goo.’  

For instance, you can start with ‘Gah’. It might help to use a mirror in front of both of you, or to at least give your child a hand mirror to look at.

 

Make sure your child puts his tongue in the right place to make a good ‘G’ to start the syllable.  Try to make it fun and reward your child for any effort to produce the sound correctly.   Practice this at least 3 times.

Then you can move on to the next syllable, ‘Gee’, and do the same thing.  You may find that some syllables will be easier for your child to produce, and that’s OK.  You can come back to the harder ones later.

Move on to as many syllables as you can, trying to get as many correct productions as possible.

 When your child can produce ‘G’ syllables correctly 80% of the time, you can move on to Initial ‘G’ in words.  From there, continue to work your way through all the ‘G’ levels, as outlined in the How to Teach Your Child Speech course. 

You’ve got this!