3-4y Speech Sounds

What is it?

Speech sounds are the sounds we make, using our mouth, to form words. To make sounds the brain needs an idea to communicate, then it send the idea to the mouth telling it which words to say and the sounds to make. This includes signals to the muscles that control the tongue, lips and jaw.

What to expect?

By 3-4:

  • Children can present with errors including:
  • ‘f’ may be said as “b”, ‘c/k’ may be said as “t”, ‘g’ may be said as “d”, and ‘s’ may be said as “d”
  • ‘v’ may be said as “b”, ‘ch’ may be said as “t”, ‘j’ may be said as “d” and ‘sh’ may be said as “s”.
  • ‘p’ may be said as “b”, ‘t’ may be said as “d”, ‘c/k’ may be said as “g”
  • The final sounds may be missed off their words, e.g. ‘bed’ said as “be”, ‘cup’ said as “cu”
  • ‘l’ may be said as “y” or “w”
  • ‘r’ may be said as “w”
  • Words with two consonant together like ‘sp’ in ‘spider’ or ‘bl’ in ‘black’ they can be reduced to one sound so “pider” or “back”.
  • ‘th’ may be said as “f” in words like ‘thumb’ and “d” in words like ‘there’.
  • Children should be mostly understood by familiar adults.
  • Longer words with three or more syllables may be difficult to produce like ‘helicopter’.
  • Children should be able to identify simple rhyming words like ‘cat’ and ‘hat’.
  • Children are developing an awareness of syllables and can break words down like ‘flow _er’ or ‘ra_bbit’.

Information & advice

You can help by:

  • Let your child have the opportunity to mix and play with children of their own age. This way they will get to hear the speech of other children and will gain confidence.
  • Listening to what your child is saying rather than how he/she is saying it. Remember that all children make pronunciation errors when learning to talk.
  • Modelling back the correct word if your child uses the wrong sounds. Do not ask your child to repeat the word over and over; they are unlikely to be able to correct it. Even if they can, it is unlikely that they will be able to carry this across to the next time they use the word.

Watch our speech sounds videos here.