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My son is still young enough to be practicing his pronunciation. He has trouble (not surprisingly) with th in particular. I have modeled the correct mouth shape for him but it still takes him a lot of effort to get the sound right. In regular speech, he just slurs the sounds into f or s depending on the word.

With his l sounds, we had a lot of success by singing "Skip to My Lou" a lot. I can't think of any children's songs that have frequent th sounds though.

Is there a current, accepted, standard technique to help him practice both the voiced and unvoiced th (which preferably don't involve sitting and saying "th, th, th" for a long time)?

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    One word of advice: don't have him practice while driving on a bumpy road. :^)
    – J.R.
    Jan 26, 2013 at 10:13

2 Answers 2

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Many people have this problem, especially children, and this song does a pretty good job of helping kids. I would also suggest this song by Mrs. Jones also has a great song, that teaches the "-th" sound, and has the lyrics, on the webpage.

Also though, I might suggest using words he already knows how to say, like "Thank you" and "Teeth". Then relate those to other words.

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Current standard? Not sure. What I used on my child was to pretend English was an inflected language:

  • The, they, their, them (repeat)

The "r" in their requires a slight movement of the tongue. The "m" in them requires the mouth to close. When repeated in a patter this exercises the tongue, thus creating muscle memory.

Then switch it up to:

  • Then, this, these, those (repeat)

The recycle of "those" to "then" can be tricky for youngsters. Once this is easy, you put it all together.

See also:

  • Why, where, while, when (repeat)

Tapping your tongue to the roof of your mouth to form the "n" in when is the perfect end/repeat marker.

All in my opinion, of course.

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