How to Teach Ch

By Pam Marshalla

Q: My client can do S and Sh correctly, but I cannot get him to do Ch. Ideas?

Van Riper used a term that applies here. He said the “association method” was the process of using a phoneme the client already can produce to teach him to say a phoneme he cannot produce.  In this case, the easiest way to do this is to use Sh to teach Ch.

Think about how we transcribe Ch.  It is /t∫/.  This means that Ch starts with the T-position and it ends with the Sh-position.  Ch = T + Sh.  I teach Ch by reversing the sequence. Here’s what I do:

  • Have the client say Sh with prolongation. Have him hold it for about 3 seconds.
  • Then have him “Stop the air” by lifting the tongue-tip up to T. Sorry about this, but it will sound like he is saying a swear word: “sh*t.” Have him practice this several times. The key is to say T without its off-glide. Have him simply “stop the air” or “close the gate” by lifting the tip.
  • Now have him say a sequence of three sounds: Sh—-T—-Sh. This way he is sequencing T and Sh in a row.
  • Now do this in long sequences: Sh—T—Sh—T—Sh—T—Sh—T—Sh…
  • Now do it faster and faster. It should start sounding like Ch at some point.

0 thoughts on “How to Teach Ch”

  1. I have a student that can make the /s/ with occasional deviations with the airstream and extreme lateralization of the /sh/ and /ch/ sounds. I have not been able to get an /sh/ or /ch/ by using an /s/ to /sh/ glide or by using an explosive /t/ for the /ch/. Any further suggestions?

    1. Palatal sibilants Sh, Zh, Ch, and J are best learned off of Long E. This is an old-time method. Today palatography reveals that the tongue position for Long E (as in “beet”) is the same as for these sibilants. Teach your client to prolong E and then to do it voicelessly (to whisper it). Then teach him to round his lips as he does so. It should turn into “sh” immediately. See my blog for ideas about then turning “Sh” into “Ch” at–

    2. Teach Sh from Long E (as in “eat”). Have the client make an E. Then teach him to do it without voice (whisper it). Now teach him to round his lips while he makes that sound. It should should like a beginner Sh.

      Then change Sh into Ch— Have him prolong a Sh. Then have him lift his tongue-tip to “stop the air” while he is still saying Sh. It will sound like “Shit.” (Sorry, no way around this.) Then have him say, Shhhh-t-shhhhh-t-shhhh-t…. But DON’T have him say the T. The T just represents him lifting the tip to stop the air. If he can do this correctly, and then does it faster and faster, it will start sounding like Ch.

  2. I have used the above technique (sh-t-sh-t-sh), combined with the cue that /sh/ is a quiet sound, /ch/ is louder, so you have “push” your air. This helps the student close for the stop, before producing the /sh/.

  3. I have a student in first grade who backs the /ch/ sound. I have tried everything and can’t get her to make the correct sound. Help!

    1. If she can make the Sh sound do this—
      1. Have her prolong Sh. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
      2. Then have her “Shut the door” which means to lift the tongue-tip to the alveolar ridge to stop the Sh sound. Have her practice this til she can make it very sharp. Now she is producing /t∫/ in reverse as /∫t/.
      3. Have her do many times in sequence: Shhhhh-t—–Shhhhhh-t——– Shhhhhh-t.
      4. Then do it faster and faster and “Don’t stop the air.” It should begin sounding like /t∫/.

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