Stimulation Techniques for /k/ and /g/

By Pam Marshalla

Q: Do you have any suggestions for how to elicit the /k/ and /g/?

Pre-speech Vocalization

Use the velar raspberry because it is the infant’s precursor to /k/ and /g/. If the child can make a velar raspberry, he is articulating in the back and only needs to refine the sound. Practice the raspberry long and short, loud and soft, big and tiny. Shape it into /k/ if the raspberry is voiceless. Shape it into /g/ if the raspberry is voiced.

Phonetic Placement

Use /y/ if your client already has it because it too is a back sound. Have him say “yuh-yuh-yuh…” and tell him to push up higher in the back. You may start hearing “gyuh-gyuh…” Then you’ve got it.

Conceptual Cue

Tell the client you are fastening a string to the back of his tongue. Then tell him you pulling it upward. Tell him to lift his tongue as you pull the imaginary string upward. Have him try /k/ or /g/.

External Tactile Cue

Tap the back of the crown of the head to show him the high spot where he should push the back of the tongue up.


Push down on the back of the tongue, gently, and ask the client to push up against your finger. If he is hyposensitive like so many apraxic children are, then it will not cause him to gag.

Recommended Reading

Wayne Secord et al (2007) has written a wonderful little book called Eliciting Sounds. It is filled with hundreds of ideas for eliciting phonemes. (New York: Delmar Learning).

More information on /k/ and /g/ can be found in my post, Tongue Back Elevation and in the tags.

6 thoughts on “Stimulation Techniques for /k/ and /g/”

  1. I have a 2nd grade student with a severe lateral lisp. We have remediated /s/ and /z/, are close on /sh/, but he also has lateral /k/ and /g/ which we have not been successful in correcting. His tongue placement looks correct and I cannot even duplicate his production with my own tongue so I cannot figure out how he is releasing the air. Sometimes it sounds almost like a lateral lisp+tongue click? I cannot find any techniques for this kind of distortion online and none of the other SLPs in my District have any ideas. Suggestions would definitely be welcomed!

    1. Descriptions of how we produce the back sounds /k/ and /g/ are incorrect in virtually all phonetics texts, and therefore when it comes to a subtle problem like this we need more info. The whole back of the tongue does not lift in one motion for /k/ and /g/. Instead, the BACK-LATERAL MARGINS of the tongue LIFT and BRACE against the palate, and THEN the middle-back elevates and lowers to make /k/ or /g/. The action is a combination of STABILITY (on the sides) and MOBILITY (in the middle). Your client is doing something different— He is lifting the middle-back of the tongue, stabilizing it there, and then allowing the sounds to escape as fricatives on either side. This is why it sounds like a lateral /k/ or /g/. It is lateral. He is doing the same thing on all his sibilants in the back– Sh, Zh, Ch, and J.

      Therefore the solution is thus: Teach him to brace the back-lateral margins of the tongue against the palate first. Do not start with /k/ and /g/ because these are hardest, most subtle. Start with Sh instead. Begin this by teaching him to say “Long E” (the vowel of “eat”). We start with Long E because it puts the back lateral margins of the tongue up against the palate and is the same position as Sh. Have him say Eee. Then have him whisper this Long E, and then have round his lips while he keeps panting. Now you have a gross Sh that is midline and not lateral. You can read more about this idea on my Blog— Start at

  2. I have a student who has a profound hearing loss and did not get a cochlear implant until the age of 6 years. She is currently 10, and has significant receptive and expressive language delays (no sign or spoken language prior to implant). Non-verbal Cognitive skills are average. She has been able to learn to produce all sounds except for velar K/G. We have tried all of the elicitation techniques (tongue depressors, lying on back, gargling) which usually result in her using a glottal plosive instead. She uses N for NG but does produce R very nicely. We tried to work from R to GRR – but no success. Do you have any other suggestions?

  3. I have a middle school student who has a diagnosis of apraxia. He is unable to voice the /g/ sound. He is able to maintain correct placement and is able to voice other sounds. Any suggestions?

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