While many of the sounds in the Australian English language are expected by three, there are still quite a few sounds expected from four to five years of age.
By the age of four, your child should be saying all the sounds expected by three as well as L, SH and CH. By four and a half, they should also be saying J, S and Z and by five, the R sound.
At the age of four years, there is an additional expectation that despite children maybe having difficulty with some sounds, they will be 90 to 100% clear in their speech when talking to both family members and strangers. In addition to this, they should be able to say blended sounds (combining two or more sounds together) at the start and end of words. For example, clam, spot, split, swift, best, melt. They will also have no difficulty with most vowels.
By the age of five years, your child’s speech should be 100% clear in all situations. They may still have trouble saying the V and TH sounds.
The SH, CH and J sounds are all very similar in terms of how they are produced.
While the CH and J sounds are expected at slightly different ages, I will keep them together to describe how they are said, as they are a pair. These sounds are produced by closing the teeth together and moving the lips forward (but keeping them apart), so they are slightly pursed. The sounds produced are short, with the only difference being that the CH sound is “quiet” (if you hold your hand to your throat while saying the sound you won’t feel a vibration) and the J sound is “loud” (if you hold your hand to your throat while saying the sound you will feel a vibration).
The SH sound is produced the same as the CH and J. The teeth are kept shut while the lips are pursed (but kept open or apart). The SH sound is a long sound and it is “quiet” sound.
The L sound is produced by moving the tip of the tongue to behind the top teeth and keeping the mouth slightly open and the lips relaxed. It is a long sound and it is a “loud” sound.
The S and Z sounds are also a pair. They are produced by shutting the teeth together so no air escapes and spreading the lips wide, as though smiling. These sounds are both long sounds, with the only difference being that the S sound is a “quiet” sound and the Z sound is a “loud” sound.
The final sound for this age group is R, which is expected by 5 years of age. The R sound is produced by curling the tongue slightly and moving the lips forward into a slightly pursed position. The R sound is a long sound and a “loud” sound.
Next week, I will go through the final sounds produced by 6 and 8 years of age.
Please feel free to ask any questions about achieving sounds and let me know how you are going if you are practising with your own children. You can also go to my Facebook Page to ask questions and get information about upcoming products, free resources and different areas of Speech Pathology.