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Teaching Proper Pronunciation to a Toddler

by Susan Revermann

Your toddler’s vocabulary takes a massive leap between 2 and 3 years of age, although his pronunciation may need some work. Patience and encouragement is the best approach, but you can implement some techniques to help teach him proper pronunciation. With your help, he’ll be speaking clearly in complete sentences before you know it.

Reading

Reading is one of the best ways to increase your toddler’s vocabulary, understanding of proper sentence structure and the ability to make the connection between letters and sounds. Read slow enough for him to understand what you’re saying and focus on the pronunciation of every word. Be expressive and use different voices for the various characters. Ask him open-ended questions about the story, characters and pictures. Board books are your best bet for withstanding toddler use.

Modeling Proper Pronunciation

Most kids learn a great deal through simple observation. If you want your child to learn how to speak properly, start by demonstrating these skills yourself. Be a speech role model for your little guy. Take time to pronounce words correctly and cut down on the slang terminology. Using grammatically correct sentences with the appropriate verbs, tenses and pronouns makes a big difference on how your child learns to speak.

Conversations

Simply engaging your toddler in everyday conversation can help her learn to speak properly. It encourages her to adopt more complex sentence structures and ask questions. Talk about the colors and textures of the produce in the grocery store, point out colors and shapes during a car ride or take a walk and discuss the objects around you. Ask her open-ended questions, instead of "yes" or "no" questions, and give her time to respond. Answer her questions by rephrasing her question in your response. For instance, “Where’s the kitty?” can be answered with, “The kitty is on the couch.” Everyday routines and activities offer a plethora of conversational opportunities.

Correction

According to the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families, toddlers often have issues with not speaking clearly, mispronouncing words, mumbling, having a lisp, skipping letters or being generally hard to understand. When your toddler mispronounces a word, you can simply repeat the word correctly. Give your toddler time to work on his verbal skills and be encouraging about his progress. Don’t use harsh criticism or put-downs, as this may make matters worse.

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