Teaching J in Isolation & Syllables

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

As you can see by the attached image, this chart puts ‘J’ at about age 7 for most children.  In other words, by age seven, 90% of children can produce the ‘J’ sound correctly in speech.


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

Most of the time, when a child mispronounces ‘J’, he is substituting ‘D’ or ‘DZ’ instead.  He may say say ‘padzamas’ instead of ‘pajamas’, or ‘dzelly’ instead of ‘jelly’.

So how do you teach your child to make the ‘J’ sound?  If he can produce the ‘CH’ sound, that is great!  You will just have to tell him to turn his voice on to make the ‘J’ sound, because it’s made in exactly the same place.  Have him put his hand on his neck to feel if it vibrates when he says ‘J’.  If so, then his voice is on.  That will make it easy to then have him practice that sound in syllables and words.

If he can’t do make the ‘CH’ sound, then you need to get specific about how to produce it.  See if he can make the ‘SH’ sound, and if so, start with that.  Tell him to make ‘SH’ and then push hard with his tongue off the top of his mouth.   Basically the ‘J’ sound is just an ‘SH’ that you stop by pushing your tongue hard against the top of your mouth so that only a little bit of air can escape at a time.  ‘SH’ can be held out for a long time because the air is not restricted very much.  Just like the ‘CH’ sound, ‘J’ is shorter than ‘SH’ because you’re pushing your tongue harder and closer against your mouth.  It’s louder than ‘SH’ because the air has to try harder to go forward between a much smaller opening above your tongue. 

If you child can’t produce ‘SH’, I would go back and teach ‘SH’ first.  See the course for ‘SH’.  Basically, if your child is producing ‘D’ or ‘DZ’ for ‘J’, you need to tell him to move his tongue back a little farther in his mouth, and then push his tongue hard off the roof of his mouth as described above.

 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 a tongue depressor or lollipop to touch the correct area.


When your child can produce ‘J’ in isolation with 80% accuracy, you can start on syllables, like ‘Jah, Jay, Jee, Jye, Jo and Joo.’  

For instance, you can start with ‘Jah’. 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 ‘J’ to start the syllable, and make sure he’s pushing his tongue hard enough that it doesn’t sound like an ‘SH’ or ‘ZH’ (as in ‘treasure’).  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, ‘Jee’, 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 ‘J’ syllables correctly 80% of the time, you can move on to Initial ‘J’ in words.  From there, continue to work your way through all the ‘J’ levels, as outlined in the How to Teach Your Child Speech course. 

You’ve got this!