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Many children, during their acquisition of speech, may have articulation difficulties. Some of the most frequent reside in the 'j' phoneme, which is acquired around 4 years of age, giving rise to the so-called jotacism, which consists of the distortion, omission or substitution of this sound.
But why do our little ones find problems when it comes to pronouncing it? One of the main reasons is that its point of articulation is not as visible as, for example, that of the t or the p, so its pronunciation is not easy to imitate.
One of the most frequent errors is its substitution by k (kabón instead of soap). This happens because the back of the tongue is contacting the palate, which prevents the air from escaping. For this reason, this most posterior part of the tongue will have to be detached. For this, a tongue depressor, the classic doctor's stick, can be used, although care must be taken, as this can cause gagging.
Another common mistake is that they substitute it for the soft g (giraffe for giraffe). In this case, we can ask him to repeat syllables like ga, gue, gui, go and gu, while clearing his throat loudly.
If there is a direct omission (for example, 'avier por Javier') we will have to help the recognition of the articulation point. A trick can then be to start from the facilitating phoneme k and add vibrations from gargles.
For the 'j' sound to be emitted correctly, it is necessary that the lips and teeth are parted, without tension. The tongue widens and the lingual apex - the tip - contacts the alveoli, which is the area where the lower incisors are inserted. At the same time, the back of the tongue approaches the soft palate or soft palate, which is raised, forming a channel that facilitates the exit of air.
But, as we mentioned previously, this articulatory point is not easy. For this reason, it is essential that the child experience the proprioceptive sensations that are felt when articulating this phoneme. Thus, we can encourage him to feel our throat to see the vibration or tickling that occurs. Then we will invite him to try it. To give you a clearer example that you can understand, we can explain to you that you should imitate the roar of a lion. In this way, in addition to the tactile sensation, you will have a visual image to which you can associate the sound.
Another useful aid is to use gestures of support. One option can be by placing the closed fist with the thumb extended on the neck or, if you prefer, you can place your whole hand on it, in a grip position, covering the entire throat. Whatever the chosen gesture, it must be carried out while saying words with the letter j, such as cage or soap, so that the child can see you and then reproduce it. You will see that this strategy is very effective, as they are very amused by speaking 'by signs'.
We hope these tips help you! In any case, do not hesitate to go to a specialist if you see that your child, despite these help and after 4 years, continues to encounter difficulties.
You can read more articles similar to When the child does not pronounce the letter 'j' well, in the On-site Learning category.