Silly Sentence Games for Speech Therapy

Silly Sentence GameJust wanted to share a terrific resource I found for another game in speech therapy.  These “Silly Sentence” games come from a speech language pathologist in Texas.  I’ve used her games in therapy and they are really fun and easy.   Click on the links below to go to her site and download her free printable games.

Ms. Lane’s Silly Sentences – R, K and TH

Ms. Lane’s Silly Sentences – S



Stretched-Out Vowels (Diphthongs)

Diphthong English Long Vowels Listen to the audio lesson here.

Many students learning English have to learn to lengthen or “stretch out” some English vowels.  To get your accent to sound more American, learn these “stretched-out” vowels, or “diphthongs”.  Diphthongs are 2 (di-) vowels said in succession.

Let’s look at OW.  The OW sound in cow and wow is really 2 vowels “ah” + “oo”.  Try that stretched out sound in this sentence – “How now brown cow?”

Long O as in no and boat is pronounced “oh” + “oo”.  This sound is very different from the Spanish O, which is just one short, pure O sound.  Spanish speakers will make a big improvement in their American accent if they learn to stretch out their English O.  Try this sentence “Row, row, row your boat”.

Long A as in  say and game is pronounced “aye”+”ee”.  Learn to stretch out A in name and people will understand you better when you introduce yourself “My name is ______”.

Long I as in fine and my is pronounced “ah”+ “ee”. Try “Hi Mike.  I’m fine.”

OY as in boy and noise is pronounced “aw”+”ee”.  Try “Boys enjoy noise.”

Special Rule:  When these long vowels are followed by R or L, they become longer still (like 2 distinct vowels) and we insert a linking W or Y sound.

Long O                 mole = mo wul              more = mo wer

Long A                  mail = ma yel               mare = ma yer

Long I                   file = fi yel                     fire = fi yer

OW                       owl = ah wel                  our = ah wer

OY                         foil = faw yel                  foyer = faw yer

Click here for my free printable of stretched-out vowels.


“Priority” and other Soft Ts

Priority_pronouncing T like DIn many English words the T sounds more like D.  It’s not lazy, but instead it’s a normal reduction of T to D that American speakers do.  Let’s look at priority. The T in priority sounds like a D.

priority = pryor idee

Other words do this too.

  • activity = aktiv idee
  • community = kuhmyu nidee
  • diversity = diver sidee
  • equality = ekwal idee
  • facility = fasil idee
  • gravity = grav idee
  • humidity = hyumid idee
  • infinity = infin idee
  • majority = major idee
  • opportunity = ahportun idee
  • quality = kwal idee
  • unity =  yun idee
  • validity = valid idee

Hear the word list here.


What is Compton PESL Certification?

Compton PESL certified trainer San Jose CAQuestion: I read on your website you are Compton PESL Certified. Can you tell me what that is, and why it’s important? Lily

Answer: Sure Lily.  “PESL (Pronouncing English as a Second Language) is a thorough program in pronunciation instruction designed for foreign-born individuals who are competent in English vocabulary and grammar but wish to improve the accuracy of their pronunciation.

PESL teaching begins with an assessment.  This testing analyzes an individual’s ability to produce the phonemes of general American English in word, sentence and reading contexts. The instructor uses the analysis results to design an individualized teaching program which addresses the areas of pronunciation that are most affected by the influence of the student’s first language.

The PESL method of accent modification was first taught to professionals in 1985 by speech language pathologist Dr. Arthur J. Compton, Ph.D., CCC-SLP.  The research conducted by Dr. Compton, first presented to the American Speech-Language & Hearing Association in 1980, indicates a consistent level of improvement or change in pronunciation across demographic variables such as age, sex, number of years living in the United States, education level and first language. Individuals who complete a PESL training program with a certified instructor are likely to demonstrate an increase in pronunciation accuracy of 50 – 70% within 90 days (13 weeks/3 months).”

(Content from Compton PESL website.)

The only one of it’s kind, the training and certification from Compton PESL is well-respected by other speech language pathologists and ESL teachers. The methods and materials used by Compton PESL trainers have been shown to bring lasting results to individuals learning accent modification.  Students appreciate the organized program which is simple to follow, and can be studied just as easily in person as it can by tele-conference.   Students from around the globe can have access to an American teacher and learn the Compton method as long as they have a computer with a camera, and access to the internet.

Please feel free to contact me for a complimentary meeting so we can chat about your specific needs, and how I can help you.

Warm Regards,



Updating My Gratitude

Updating My GratitudeMy Grateful List is posted above my desk.  I wrote it in September 2013. It was the start of my son’s senior year in high school.  See my post Developing Gratitude.

This week my son donned a cap and gown and walked across stage to receive his diploma. It was a day of joy, gratitude and, I must say, relief.

Raising a child with autism takes a special kind of strength.  I can’t say I had this strength when I started this journey, but I have developed it over the years.  More important than this is the way my son developed, and how grateful I am for the blessings in my life today.

Here’s my updated Grateful List:

  • Husband has a good job and we have money to pay our bills.
  • Son graduated high school and is registered for community college in the fall.
  • Daughter graduated college and is writing the great American novel.
  • We have food, clothing, a home to live in, and in a safe neighborhood.
  • We have our health, such a blessing!
  • God loves us and we have an amazing church family.

If you need ideas on how to develop gratitude please see my earlier post here.


Response to “Characteristics of Autism in 2-Year-Olds”

This recent article from Bold Sky described characteristics that can be seen in 2-Year-Olds. When you read information like this you need to understand that these areas may not ALL be present in a child’s development, especially for children who may eventually be diagnosed with higher-functioning autism, like Aspergers Syndrome or PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified.)

The author writes (and I quote)

Early Signs: They do not make eye contact, they don’t smile when you smile at them, they don’t follow objects, they don’t make noises to get your attention, they don’t respond to cuddling, they do not do any baby talk or babbling and they don’t reach out to you to be picked up.
Social Difficulties: A parent needs to check the characteristics of autism in 2 year old in a social environment as well. Children with autism appear to be disinterested or unaware of the people around them. They try not to make friends and prefer not to be cuddled. Basically, they seem to be aloof and detached from others.
Speech and Language Difficulties: They often start talking late. They repeat the same set of words over and over. They have difficulty in communicating needs or desires and language is used incorrectly. They talk with an abnormal tone of voice and an odd pitch. These are a few of the characteristics of autism in toddlers.
Non Verbal Communication Difficulties: Characteristics of autism in 2 year old is more prominent in non-verbal communication. They avoid eye contact and their facial expressions may not match with what is being said. They don’t pick up the tone or the gesture used. They react unusually to smells and sounds. These are a few of the characteristics of autism in 2 year old.
Inflexibility: They have difficulty in adjusting to a new schedule, unusual attachment to strange objects and obsessive in arranging things in a particular order. They may show repeating the same actions or movements over and over again with preoccupation in a narrow topic of interest.”

Bold Sky Autism ArticleRead the full article here.



My son had a high-functioning autism diagnosis at age 10.  As I look back at his development, I can pinpoint areas  of concern from the above list, but NOT ALL the areas.  In fact he was advanced in several areas.  It was his advanced skills that delayed his being diagnosed correctly.  Had we gotten an early correct diagnosis, we would have been able to access services when he was a toddler and preschooler.  Here are the things we were dealing with:

His early signs did not include any problems with eye contact, cuddling or babbling.  He reached out to be picked up and was advanced in his development of language.

He did not show traditional signs of social difficulties.  He wanted to be with other kids, and had some difficulty knowing the rules of playing with others.  It was difficult for him to be with peers, but he was terrific with older kids with whom he could have an “intelligent conversation”.  He also enjoyed younger kids because he could teach them about things he knew about.

He did not have typical speech and language  difficulties.  In fact he talked early, and often.    He absorbed language like a sponge from every source possible: conversations, radio, TV, reading. He was 6 months ahead of children his age for talking in sentences. Actually he taught himself how to read before Kindergarten.  So his advanced skills masked the difficulties he did have.

Now here are the areas from the above article that I observed in my 2-year-old with autism:

Non-Verbal Communication – this was difficult for my son. Although he did not avoid eye contact, he was not able to “read” others, with facial expressions and body language. This was an area where we used very explicit teaching.  I recommend the book Teaching your Child the Language of Social Success, by Duke, Nowicki and Martin. He did have strong reactions to sounds and smells. So we went further and got an OT to help us manage his sensory processing.

Inflexibility – he needed routines or he would melt down.  He organized his own routines (like saying goodbye at the classroom door in the morning).  I organized other routines with bedtimes, meal times and play groups.  If we were doing something uncommon, like a trip to the dentist which only happened every 6 months,  I used social stories to help him recall and anticipate the routine of that event.

When you look at the warning signs of autism, it’s important to remember that not every child will display every symptom.  You must consider all the issues in combination when considering an autism diagnosis.

American Money Lesson

American Money LessonI taught a simplified lesson to my ESL students about U.S. money.  The best way to teach about money is with real money!,  but I had to make do with pictures of money because my students are in China and we talk on video conference.

I liked the pictures on Learn American English Online.  I copied their pictures and sent them by email to my students. Here’s my adaptation (free printable) of Learn American English Online’s currency lesson.

I simplified and used just the coins – penny, nickel, dime and quarter, and the bills $1, $5, $10 and $20.

Also I taped (with clear tape) the 4 coins on a 4×6 index card, and showed the students.  It’s much easier than holding up each coin to the camera. Also students can see the coins in relation to each other, size and color, etc.

One student asked if those were U.S. presidents on the money, and they were.  So that launched brief discussion of presidents.

Watch for pronunciation errors!  My students said doe lar for dollar – Pronounce it like this [dah  ler]. And pronounce money like [mun  nee]

Linking with Y – Pronouncing “Diet Coke”

how to pronounce Diet CokeWhen my Chinese student ordered this soda, the waiter didn’t understand him.

I noticed 2 problems with my student’s pronunciation. First he was not using the common Y linking between the two vowels in di-et. Second he was not holding out the long O in Coke.

Let’s take Y linking first. When English has two vowels that each make a syllable (I’m not talking about when the first vowel says its name and the second one is silent) we use a linking sound, either Y or W to move smoothly from the first sound to the second sound. When the first sound is an I (long I) like in the word diet we insert a Y sound to link the I to the next sound. Here are some examples:

  • diet = di (y) et
  • science = si (y) ens
  • quiet = kwi (y)et
  • client = kli (y) ent

When the first sound is an E (long e) like in the word museum, we insert a Y sound to link the E to the next sound. Here are some examples:

  • museum = myu zee (y) um
  • serious = seer ee (y) us
  • appreciate = a pree shee (y) ate
  • San Diego = san dee (y) ago

See my earlier post on linking with W.

Let’s look at the long O in Coke. Most ESL learners need to remember that American O is very long, you could even say it’s held out for 2 beats. North Americans say o – u. (Really this sound is called a “diphthong” meaning it has two parts – two adjacent vowels). So English words that have long O are usually dragged out by an American speaker. Try dragging out these words with long O:

go = go u

nose = no uz

drove = dro uv

soak = so uk    &    Coke = ko uk

hold = ho uld

Best of luck and have fun speaking English!