How To Teach The J Sound To Toddlers by Chicago Speech Therapists Connect

The /j/ sound is an important, but complex, sound that your child needs to develop into their speech. Allow your child time between their fourth and seventh year to achieve fluency with the /j/ sound.

How It’s Elicited

This is a “stop consonant” meaning there are two parts to the articulation of this sound. The first is stopping the airflow. The second is the release of it. It is also a voiced consonant sound. This means that the vocal chords are used to make the sound that passes through the mouth through the mouth.

During the first part of /j/ articulation, the tip of the tongue should be raised, touching the roof of the mouth just behind the front teeth. You might remember a similar tongue position from the /t/ and /d/ sounds. The top and bottom teeth should be lightly touching and the corners of the lips need to be pulled in.

TIP: Try gently dabbing a bit of peanut butter or something else that’s tasty on the roof of your child’s mouth where their tongue needs to be touching during the first part of the /j/ sound. By licking the peanut butter off, your child will feel where their tongue needs to be.

The second part of this sound articulation comes when air is released from the lungs and builds up behind the tongue. Relax the tongue and pull your teeth and lips apart. The sound that follows should be a perfect /j/ sound.

How To Practice

Once your child is stimulable—meaning he or she is able to directly imitate the /j/ sound when you make it—it’s time to push their skill and confidence level. Start by incorporating the /j/ sound into syllables.

Try starting syllables that begin with the /j/ sound (“juh, joo, ja”). When your child is comfortable making these basic syllabic sounds, try moving up to some more advanced drills—ones that end with the /j/ sound, rather than begin with it. “aj,” “ej” and “ij” are all useful in developing your child’s ability to properly make the /j/ sound.

Next start testing your child’s ability to pronounce entire words that incorporate the /j/ sound—“joint,” “jolly,” “jug.” Try finding a variety of words for your child to practice, not just ones that start with the /j/ sound, words like “judge.”.

Sentences including the /j/ should be the next step in achieving fluency with this sound. It’s important thing to remember during practice that repetition and the correct articulation are most important in mastering this sound. If you notice your child stumbling over the /j/ sounds once he begins incorporating it into words and sentences, make sure you step in and have him repeat the word correct before moving on to the next one. It’s okay to encourage your child to go slow at first when saying words or sentences.

If you are concerned with your child’s speech or language development, please contact Chicago Speech Therapy by clicking on the “Contact Karen” button on the upper right section of this page. Your online inquiry should be responded to within 30 minutes.

Karen George is a Chicago speech-language pathologist. Karen is a founding member and the current leader of Chicago Speech Therapists Connect, a group of Chicago-area speech-language pathologists. As of Jan 2012, the Chicago Speech Therapists group contained over 400 members. The private pediatric speech therapy practice Karen founded, Chicago Speech Therapy, LLC, provides in-home pediatric speech therapy in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. Karen and her team of Chicago speech therapists have a reputation for ultra-effective speech therapy and work with a variety of speech disorders. Karen is the author of several books such as A Parent’s Guide to Speech and Language Milestones, A Parent’s Guide to Articulation, A Parent’s Guide to Speech Delay, A Parent’s Guide to Stuttering Therapy, and A Parent’s Guide to Pediatric Feeding Therapy. She is often asked to speak and has addressed audiences at Children’s Memorial and Northwestern University. Karen is highly referred by many Chicago-area Pediatricians and elite schools.