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.
Q: Can you advise me as to how to treat prevocalic devoicing of stops?
This is what I have found works for me-
It’s all about “voice on” vs. “voice off” so begin by teaching the client about his voice. Have him place his fingers on his neck to feel the vibration or lack thereof when he turns his voice on and when he turns it off.
Use “Ah” and whispered “Ah” to teach him to turn his voice on and off at will. Then use other voiced and whispered vowels.
Teach him to produce a prolonged “Ah” and turn his voice on and off as he does so.
Take this skill into consonant productions and start with [+Continuant] consonants. I use the fricative cognate pairs: F-and-V, S-and-Z, Sh-and-Zh. These are easier to begin with because the sounds can be prolonged and the voicing feature can be understood more easily. Start by simply practicing each one in isolation. Make sure the client is producing a strong voice on the voiced ones.
Teach him to control voice-on and voice-off in continuous sequences of these fricatives. Have him say F-V-F-V-F-V-F-V, and S-Z-S-Z-S-Z, and Sh-Zh-Sh-Zh-Sh-Zh. Make sure he is exhaling continuously while he is turning his voice on and off.
CV Sequences with Fricatives
Work on initial F, V, S, Z, Sh, and Zh in nonsense words and real words of simple CV construction––
- Fee, fah, foo
- Vee, vah, voo
- See, sah, soo
- Zee, zah, zoo
- Shee, shah, shoo
- Zhee, zhah, zhoo
Once the client can do it with the fricatives, then go to the stops. The stops are harder for the child to do because they occur so quickly. A stop can’t really be prolonged, so use an H. For example, practice “Peee” as “P-H-eee.” The H will help him hear the transition from voice-off to voice-on. Many clients can start right at this step.
Make sure you are training his ear to hear all of this as you go along.