This advice-column-style blog for SLPs was authored by Pam Marshalla from 2006 to 2015, the archives of which can be explored here. Use the extensive keywords list found in the right-hand column (on mobile: at the bottom of the page) to browse specific topics, or use the search feature to locate specific words or phrases throughout the entire blog.
Differentiating “Articulation,” “Oral Motor,” and “Phonology”
By Pam Marshalla
Q: I still cannot seem to explain to colleagues the difference between articulation, oral motor, and phonology. Can you help me one more time?
This is the line of thinking I use. It may help you explain these ideas to others––
- Movements are used to make phonemes.
- Phonemes are used to make syllables.
- Syllables are used to make words.
- Words are used to make phrases.
- Phrases are used to make sentences.
- Sentences are used to make paragraphs.
- Words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs are used to express the language.
- The language is used to communicate with others.
Our clients can have trouble in any one or more of these areas––
- The client may have difficulty moving the speech mechanisms (oral-motor).
- The client may have trouble producing individual phonemes (articulation).
- The client may have problems sequencing phonemes into syllables (phonology).
- The client may not be able to put syllables into words (phonology/morphology).
- The client may not be able to organize words into phrases (syntax).
- The client may have difficulty putting phrases into sentences (syntax).
- The client may have trouble arranging sentences into paragraphs (syntax).
- The client may be unable to use words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs to express ideas (language in general).
- The client may not be able to use the language to communicate with others (functional communication/pragmatic language skills).
When viewed simply — as in this list — the differences and cross-overs between the three become plain.