How to Teach the F Sound and V Sound

How to Teach the F Sound and V Sound

This is part of an article I have reposted from mommyspeechtherapy.com and written by Heidi Hanks, M.S.CCC-SLP. It is an interesting and helpful article on how a parent may help teach their child to pronounce sounds. However I caution that if your child is having difficulties speaking or has poor intelligibility, it is important to seek professional advice before launching in to a treatment approach that is not useful. At this point you may find it useful to check out my fact sheet on Articulation and Phonology before reading further.

Here is part of the article…

Have you ever noticed how closely related the /f/ and /v/ sounds are? The /f/ sound is made by touching the upper teeth to the lower lip and then breathing out. The /v/ sound is made exactly the same way except for when you make the /v/ sound you “turn on” your voice. Knowing this helps us understand why when kids have trouble with the /f/ sound they most likely have trouble with the /v/ sound as well.

One thing to keep in mind is that the /f/ sound is typically mastered between the ages of 3 and 4, and the /v/ sound isn’t typically mastered until kids are about 5 -6. If you would like to try teaching your children how to say these sounds correctly and they struggle with both the /f/ and /v/ sounds I would recommend starting with the /f/ sound first.

Before teaching any sound it is important to make sure the child is able to say that sound in isolation (all by itself). If the child cannot say the sound in isolation then we have to teach them how.

How to Teach the F Sound in Isolation:

The /f/ and /v/ sounds are fun sounds to teach because they are visually easy to see. The first thing I typically do when I teach these sounds is grab the mirror. After I model how to make the sound (by gently biting my lower lip and breathing out) I have the kids look in the mirror to make sure they are doing exactly what I am doing. It makes them feel so good when they see themselves doing it correctly!


How to Teach the V Sound in Isolation:

Like I mentioned above the only difference between the /f/ sound and the /v/ sound is the voice. So, if the child you are working with can say the /f/ sound, teaching the /v/ sound is easy. Simply tell them to say the /f/ sound and then “turn on” their voice for the /v/ sound. You may want to have them feel the vibrations on their throat or lower lip when making the sound. This will help them distinguish the difference between these sounds.

Once they can say the /v/ sound a fun way to practice it is to call it the “Revving engine” sound. Together pretend you are revving an engine while you take turns saying “vvvv, vvv, VVV.” Adding some toy cars makes it a lot of fun. Sometimes I use the sign language sign for driving a car as a cue later to help them remember to say their good /v/ sound when we start working in words, sentences or stories.

How to Teach the F and V Sounds in Syllables:

Once your child can say the /f/ and or /v/ sounds in isolation you are ready to put them into syllables. Think of syllables as a baby step that helps make the transition from isolation to words a little smoother. Practicing words in syllables can also help determine in which position of words (initial – beginning, medial-middle or final-end) you should begin practicing the /f/ or /v/ sound.

Speech Bubble note: A Speech pathologist is the best person to assess and recommend where your child will need start. Also important to note is that Articulation errors are different to Phonological errors. This can be assessed by a Speech & Language pathologist who can tell you what the difficulty is and determine a treatment approach. I refer you again to check out my fact sheet on Articulation and Phonology.

Article continued…

To practice the sound in syllables simply add a vowel after the /f/ sound for the initial (beginning) position, before the /f/ sound for the final position, and before and after the /f/ sound for the medial (middle) position, being sure to practice the long and short form of each vowel.

If your child is the most successful with the /f/ or /v/ sound in the initial position of syllables then begin by practicing the /f/ or /v/ sound in initial position of words. If your child has more success with the /f/ or /v/ sound in the final position of syllables begin by practicing the /f/ or /v/ sound in the final position of words and so on. Kids typically have an easier time with the initial or final syllables which is why I usually start with one of those.

How to Teach the F and a V Sounds in Words:

Once the /f/ and /v/ sounds are mastered in syllables and you have decided which position (initial, medial or final) you want to target you are ready to practice them in words. You can use the word cards I have created on the worksheets page to practice the /f/ and /v/ sounds. Once the sounds are said in words correctly (at least 80% of the time) you are ready to practice the /f/ and /v/ sounds in sentences.

Speech Bubble note: The article continues to explain How to Teach the F and V Sounds in Sentences, Stories and Conversation. It has lots of great advice. For example;

In a rotating sentence only the target word changes while the sentence stays the same. For example, an initial /f/ rotating sentence is, “Feed the funny ________ .” When you rotate your practice words through it you get sentences like, “Feed the funny fox,” or “Feed the funny fish.” This is an especially great way to practice sentences for young children who can’t read yet. They are able to memorize the sentence, or use visual cues to help them read it aloud. You are also able to maximize the production of your target sound when you use a sentence with two or three target words in it… Once your child can say the /f/ and /v/ sounds with about 80% accuracy in sentences you are ready for stories…

After the child has mastered reading the story aloud with about 80% accuracy I have them retell me the story without reading it. This is just another baby step toward getting an accurate production of the target sound in conversation. Once they can do this I tell them they are ready to practice the sound in conversation. So here we go, onto conversation…

How to Teach the F and V Sounds in Conversation:

Now that you have taught the /f/ and /v/ sounds in isolation, syllables, words, sentences and stories you are finally ready to help the child you are working with transition these sounds into conversation. At this point in the process it is ok to correct an inaccurate production of these sounds in conversation, in fact I would encourage you to do so. Generalizing the sound from practicing them in words, sentences and stories to conversation can be the most difficult step. If you find that they are still making really frequent mistakes it’s perfectly ok to go back and work on the sound in sentences or stories again until they get it

Speech Bubble note: Hope this helps give you an insight into how a Speech pathologist may approach an articulation difficulty and many of the steps involved. A parent is key to helping a child to overcome a speech difficulty and a home program is vital to successful treatment. I recommend that you consult a Speech and Language pathologist for assessment before embarking on a treatment plan that may not be effectiveness or useful for your child’s possible speech difficulty.