Vocalic R Printable Resource

vocalic R word listI work with a lot of kids who can’t say their Rs.  With articulation therapy we use lists of words and sentences when practicing.  Many speech therapists have shared their lists and that’s cool. For a while I used this one by Home Speech Home but it has many complicated variations of the vocalic R words, and I needed a simple set of words.  Anyone teaching kids to pronounce Rs know that it’s a very slow process and words that contain too many sounds will be very hard.

(Vocalic R are words that have a vowel followed by R, such as ear, air, are, or, ire and er)

I worked with several kids to develop this list of simple vocalic R words.  Then I built phrases, sentences and paragraphs to feature these vocalic R words.  I was careful to exclude other R words and R blends so that the practice wouldn’t be too hard for the kids.  I think you’ll really appreciate this vocalic R printable resource.

(You could also use it for ESL adults to practice their pronunciation of American English R.)

Thanks for checking it out!

How to Set a Goal for English Learning

How to Set a Goal for English LearningAre you feeling frustrated with your English language learning and how slow it is?  Today we discussed this with my students.  I shared with them the best way to set a goal for their English language learning.

Observe your language learning behaviors right now to find your baseline How much are you practicing your English language?  In what settings? What and how often you are doing it now is your baseline.  For example, many students said that the only time they were speaking and listening to English was during ESL class.  Only you know the answer to these questions.  Whatever you are doing right now, write it down.

“I am speaking and listening to English only at ESL class.”

Start small.  Wherever you are, add a small increase to that time and effort.   If you want to improve your listening, maybe you can set a goal to listen more. Write it down.

“I will listen to English for 15 minutes a day.”

Name the situation for your goal, such as “in my car” or “at my children’s school with the other parents” and write it down.

“I will listen to English for 15 minutes a day while driving in my car.”

Put an end date on your goal.  Try your goal for 2 weeks or a month.  Add the end date to your goal. Write it down.

“For the remaining two weeks of this month, I will listen to English for 15 minutes a day while driving in my car.”

Post this goal where you will see it every day.

Do this task in the morning (so you’ve taken care of it for the day) or check midway through the day to make sure you fit it into your day.

Make check marks on a calendar to keep track.

Look at your behavior at the end date. Did you reach your goal? Was it too easy? Make it a little harder. Was it too hard? Make it a little easier.

Now here’s one more bit of advice for if you do not reach your goal. OK.  It happens sometimes.  You set a goal and do not reach it.  What then?  Well, I want to encourage you that even if you didn’t reach your goal you still accomplished more than if you had never set a goal!  Maybe it stings a little?  Maybe you feel disappointment?  That’s OK.  If you tried and failed, you probably learned something, didn’t you.  Don’t let that keep you from making a new goal. Think through it for the next goal.  Maybe if you try something new, you’ll reach your goal.  Just don’t give up. You can do it.


Staff Inservice for Social Thinking

Social Thinking Inservice to StaffSharing social thinking concepts and vocabulary with staff is one way to build carry-over of skills. Each client is unique, and as a therapist, you will individualize your inservice. Here are the topics I recently covered in a staff inservice:

Social Thinking Vocabulary

  • expected vs.unexpected and red stick/green stick – unexpected behavior (red stick) produces a weird or uncomfortable thought in others, and expected behavior (green stick) produces a good, or at least a neutral, thought in others
  • social behavior map
  • people file – we keep a ‘file’ in our head of what we know about a person
  • thinking with your eyes, (using your eyes to get information), catch the cues (looking for information in facial expression, body language, and tone of voice)
  • filter – NOT all thoughts should be said outloud. To help, be explicit and calm when giving feedback.
  • rules change with age (Is this behavior expected for the client’s age?)
  • some rules are hidden (such as “We don’t tell people something they already know”.)
  • social fake – we pretend interest in one another to get through a boring or difficult situation, or to help that person feel comfortable, or at least neutral, around us
  • self-monitoring > modifying behavior – Remember the long road to behavior change –
  • 1.awareness of behavior
  • 2.ID target behavior
  • 3.self-observation
  • 4.self-record
  • 5.self-evaluate
  • 6.modify behavior

How to help:

  • Use language and tools to compensate
  • pre-planning (prepare before)
  • visual cues
  • physical cues
  • direct verbal cues
  • situation autopsy (examine afterwards & plan for next time)

Here’s a printable handout of social thinking that I shared with staff recently for a young adult Asperger client. I included the social thinking vocabulary that was relevant to the client and asked the staff to fill in a social behavior map, (both expected and unexpected) so they understood the process of helping the client know explicit information about how behavior creates feelings in others.

“Social thinking is what we do when we interact with people: we think about them. And how we think about people affects how we behave, which in turn affects how others respond to us, which in turn affects our own emotions. Whether we are with friends, sending an email, in a classroom or at the grocery store, we take in the thoughts, emotions and intentions of the people we are interacting with. …For many individuals, this process is anything but natural. And this often has nothing to do with… intelligence. In fact, many people score high on IQ… tests, yet do not intuitively learn the nuances of social communication and interaction”.  – Michelle Garcia Winner, www.socialthinking.com


Pronunciation Class Printables

English Pronunciation PrintablesNeed a printable packet of basic lessons for English Pronunciation?

Please visit my TPT store for my newest pack of English Pronunciation lessons. This lesson pack has 12 easy-to-teach lessons on English sounds, the melody of English and how English words change when used in sentences.  Developed over three years teaching ESL speakers of Spanish, Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, Viet Namese, Iranian, Russian, French and Hindi.

Social Behavior Mapping Examples for Adults – Social Thinking

Social Behavior Mapping Adults Social ThinkingI’ve been using Social Thinking’s social behavior map (SBM) with an adult Aspergers client.

I’m going to show you an example where the unexpected behavior makes others feel uncomfortable and may end up in causing the Asperger person to feel bad by the way they end up treating him. Asperger folks often live with others (with parents, spouses or roommates) and at times others prepare meals for them. What can happen when a person with high-functioning autism needs to discuss and comment on the dinner (often negatively), and why are the comments so badly received by the cook? Let’s use the SBM-A to look at the reasons why:


Your Unexpected Behavior Perceived intentions: How other interpret the intentions of your behavior How the interpreted intentions make others feel  How others react to their related feelings How the reactions make you feel
Critiquing the dinner.Telling the cook what you prefer, or what you would have preferred.Telling the cook what she can do to improve the dinner next time. The cook thinks you don’t appreciate or value her efforts.The cook thinks you think you could cook the meal better.The cook thinks you think you are better than them. – insulted- not appreciated- unfairly wronged- don’t like being with you – mean voice- nasty remarks (“Well then, you can cook your own dinner!”)- not wanting to cook dinner in the future- ignore or avoid being with you – confused- mad- sad- lonely- rejected



Follow the social behavior map from the right to the left and notice how unexpected behavior will have an affect on others, and ultimately on how they treat you.

The adult SBM has an important addition that’s missing from the SBM for kids. It has a column (#2) that asks you to consider how your message was perceived. This is something all adults (neurotypical) intuitively know. We act a certain way knowing the other person will perceive it (hopefully as we intended.)

How confused an Asperger person can be when he discovers what he intended is NOT what people perceived!

This client thought critiquing the dinner and providing feedback to the cook would be helpful! He needed to know that others might perceive his intention as differently than he intended.

See the blank social behavior maps ( Unexpected and Expected ) from Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke’s book Social Thinking at Work.






Using G and K Interchangably

IMG_4060“Is it a K or a G?” my student asked me when trying to pronounce scripture, a word with an SKR blend or consonant cluster.

Words like scrape, scratch, scramble, scripture and scrapbook all start with an SKR blend, but my student thought it sounded more like SGR.

That’s not unusual.  G and K are “brothers” – sounds that are exactly alike except one has vocal cord vibration and one does not.

American English speakers will understand SKR- words even if you pronounce them SGR- because it’s close enough!

Interested in why this happens when ESL speakers pronounce SKR- words?  It’s because the R has vocal cord vibration and American English speech is fluid. In connected English speech, sounds are influenced by the sounds before and after them! The K is being influenced by the R.

How to Pronounce “bottom”

How to Pronounce bottomYikes!   I checked the pronunciation of “bottom” on Howjsay.com and it’s with a very British accent!   Beware. If you want to know the American English pronunciation, you’ll need a site or a friend who’s more American.

To pronounce “bottom” in the U.S., we use the same rule as in Syllabic L. We say [bah] and then [dum].  The first vowel is pronounced “ah”. The tt is reduced to a very soft D sound, just like in the word little [li dul] or water [wah der].  The last vowel is reduced to a short U sound, which is also called the schwa sound, and sounds like uh. Put the stress (longer, louder, and higher pitch) on the first syllable.

There are very few words that rhyme with bottom.  There is a Biblical city named Sodom.  This rhymes with bottom.  Also Hillary Clinton’s maiden name is Rodham. This rhymes too. Got them when reduced to got ’em will rhyme with bottom. In some places in the U.S. autumn rhymes with bottom.  But is some places in the U.S. autumn has a stretched-out beginning vowel pronounced like aw.

Here is the American English pronunciation:  bottom = [BAH  dum]

Sorry!! You just have to memorize this one!!

40 Exercises for Tongue Thrust

40 Exercises for Tongue Thrust Myofunctonal DisorderI’ve complied many of the fun and effective exercises we use in speech therapy for kids with tongue thrust into a 4 page printable and made it available on TPT at this link.  These are exercises and activities that I like from several sources including Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson at Talk Tools®, Robin Merkel-Walsh, MA, CCC-SLP and her book S.M.I.L.E. (Systematic Intervention for Lingual Elevation), and Kathy Winslow, RDH, myofunctional therapist.

SLPs – you’ll find lots of activities here.

Parents – Please consult your SLP or orofacial myologist.  He or she will give you guidance on which are the best exercises for your child.