Phonological Processes

By Deanna Kelly

All children make errors while developing their speech and language skills. These errors or patterns are called “phonological processes”, and children use them to simplify adult speech. Between the ages of 3-5 children typically begin to eliminate these processes.

Speech-Language Therapy is needed when children do not eliminate these processes and continue to make these errors while adding more words to their vocabulary. Learning new words and continuing to make these errors make it difficult for parents, teachers, and peers to understand the child.

Below is a chart explaining the phonological processes with an example and description.

Phonological Process Example Description
Pre-vocalic voicing car = gar A voiceless sound preceding a vowel is replaced by a voiced sound.
Word final devoicing red = ret A final voiced consonant is replaced by a voiceless consonant
Final consonant deletion boat = bo A final consonant is omitted (deleted) from a word.
Velar fronting car = tar A back sound is replaced by a front sound.
Palatal fronting ship = sip sh or zh are replaced b y s or z respectively
Consonant harmony cup = pup The pronunciation of a word is influenced by one of the sounds it ‘should’ contain.
Weak syllable deletion telephone = teffone Weak (unstressed) syllables are deleted from words of more than one syllable.
Cluster reduction try = ty A cluster element is deleted or replaced.
Gliding of liquids ladder = wadder Liquids are replaced by glides.
Stopping ship = tip A stop consonant replaces a fricative or affricate.

Speech-Language Therapy used to correct phonological processes typically involves targeting the specific sound error. The therapist will teach correct placement for the sound, and drill the child at word level, phrase level, and eventually at the sentence level. The goal of therapy intervention is to have the child producing the correct target sound during conversational speech.

SLP vs. Tutor

By Deanna Kelly

In our profession of Speech-Language Pathology we are frequently asked how our services differ from tutoring. We’ve outlined some of those differences to help you find the professional that best meets your needs.

Speech-Language Therapy Tutoring

·         An SLP holds certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and may need state licensure. ASHA requires SLPs to maintain professional credentials that include ongoing continuing education.

·         SLPs are trained in selecting, implementing, adapting, and interpreting assessment tools and methods to evaluate skills in spoken language, both comprehension and use.

·         An SLP may have received additional training in reading, spelling, and writing to specialize in literacy and dyslexia.

·         An SLP will provide therapy with individual goals based on testing results and will periodically assess the student’s progress toward those goals using standardized and informal testing measures.

·         An SLP may have a background in a variety of literacy programs and be able to select from one program or parts of programs that may best work for each student.


·         Tutors may be a student who excels in a specific area of study, a teacher, or a person who is interested in helping people. They may or may not have any formal training and they are not required to have ongoing professional development training.

·         Tutors typically are not trained to administer diagnostic assessments, and therefore rely on others to administer these tests.

·         Tutors may have a limited background or training in specific reading programs or approaches.


·         An SLP who has additional training in literacy and learning disabilities can provide a complete assessment of the student’s language, phonological awareness, reading, spelling, and writing. All of these pieces are important to learning to read. Knowing where you or your child’s strengths and weaknesses are in each area is invaluable to planning the individual treatment program.



·         The tutor’s role is typically to help the student “catch up” when behind academically rather than to remediate underlying, foundation skills.

·         The purpose of tutoring is to speed up the learning process, make up the skills the child has lost, and get them back up to the instructional level so the teacher in the classroom can continue the learning process with the child.

·         Tutoring attempts to help the student master the material at-hand and become confident in their learning process.



·         SLPs will collaborate with teachers and families to plan intervention goals and activities, as well as modifying curricula to keep students progressing in the general education setting.

·         An SLP will write goals that are observable, measurable, and will delineate a time frame to achieve them.


·         Tutors may or may not set goals for their students.

·         Tutors can both reinforce subjects that are taught in school and teach students how to work independently. Students often become more self-confident after working with a tutor.




·         An SLP will also provide recommendations for both school and home.

·         An SLP will provide you with a written progress report containing information about results of treatment (i.e., progress towards goals and what was done to work towards them), recommendations for continued treatment (i.e., set new goals), and recommendations for school and home.

·         An SLP may accompany you as a parent to an IEP meeting or you to a meeting with your supervisor or professor and assist in making recommendations and supporting you in the process.



·         Tutors typically use assessments in a tutoring session and do not make recommendations for home and school.

·         Given that tutors typically do not write goals, they usually do not measure progress or write up progress reports.

If you select a tutor for your child with dyslexia:

·         It is essential that a student with dyslexia work with a tutor who is trained to use the appropriate multisensory techniques. Be sure to ask about training, experience, and references.

·         Schedule a minimum of two lessons a week. Students with learning disabilities need practice and repetition to master their lessons and it takes time to see improvement.