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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Eliciting Sounds-SH and CH

Good Monday Morning Everyone! Today we will look at a few techniques and strategies to elicit SH and CH. This is in no way everything you need to know about teaching SH and CH. These are just some tips we found worked for us and would like to share. Usually when the child learns the correct tongue position for /s/ the other sibilants simply fall into place with little to no attention. However, as with everything else in life, there are exceptions and some need direct instruction so we will share our tips for eliciting these sounds.


Since those of you reading this are professional SLPs I am not going to tell you the correct tongue placement. You know it. I will instead elaborate on how to fix what they might be doing wrong.

The most common label for the SH sound is the “be quiet sound.” We visually cue by putting one finger in front of our mouth, pucker our lips, and blow. The simple act of putting one finger in front of our lips causes us to naturally round them which is necessary to produce this sound correctly. Most of us do not even realize we do this. Cue with this to get lip rounding.

Sometimes a child will make the sound more like an “ess” because they are placing their tongue too forward in their mouth. Tell them to move it back mid-palate. If they are not getting what you mean about mid-palate use the straw trick. Have the child to smile broadly and slightly open their mouth. Place a straw (I like to use the fat ones from McDonalds, but one from your cafeteria will do) laterally across their teeth from cheek to cheek. The straw should be sticking out both sides of the mouth. The broader they smile the closer to mid-palate you can position the straw. Tell them to keep their tongue behind the straw with the tip down. I usually use the wording, ”pull your tongue back in a bunch behind the straw.” If you try to produce the SH sound at this point it will sound terrible, so don’t. The point of this is for oral awareness of where mid-palate is for the tongue on SH. Tell them to hold that position as you ease the straw out of their mouth. Tell them to “freeze” their tongue as they pucker up and blow. It will not sound perfect but it should result in a palatal fricative. Now that they have the mid-palate position you can teach SH as you normally would.

Pam Marshalla recommends teaching SH from the Long E to get the correct tongue positioning. Using this method will get the sides of the tongue touching the sides of the teeth. Here’s the link to those instructions

Leah teaches SH by shaping from /s/+/j/ (e.g., “miss you”) This is another simple technique for helping the children who sound say “ess” for “sh.” By saying the words “miss you” quickly and repeatedly, it will go from sounding like “miss you” to “mih shoe.” When it does sound like that, ask them to mouth the movement for “miss” and say “you.” It will usually sound like “shoe” instead of “sue.” After practicing this several times, have them say the “shoe” without the silent mouth movement for “miss.”


A great way to get the child to conceptualize the CH sound is to demonstrate it as the “Sneezy” sound. Most kids can imitate that and you’re off and running with therapy. Another common label is the “Choo-Choo” sound. I will try both to see which the child prefers. When I demonstrate the Sneezy sound, I put my finger under my nose and use an exaggerated inhale while squinting my eyes closed. Then a let an explosive CH erupt. Sometimes I will even say “uh, uh, uh” on my exaggerated inhale for dramatic effect. I think my silliness with the sound is all the prompting they need to want to try it themselves. Kids love to act silly! When I present CH as the “Choo-Choo” I say “CH-CH-CH-CH” with my arms doing the train motion. I begin my choo-choo movements slowly and build in crescendo until my train is going fast.

Now you’re ready to begin therapy or not. What do you do when the usual and customary visual-auditory prompts don’t work? You will try shaping from a sound they have in their repertoire. One way is to shape from /t/ to SH. Practice saying them separately (/t/ -pause -sh) and increase in the speed at which you say them until you are saying them together which will result in CH.

Another shaping trick is to work from /t/+/s/+/y/ (e.g., “itsyou”). Again you follow the same procedure as for the “miss you” trick in saying it faster until it begins to sound like CH.

Another trick you might try is to have them say the SH but hold the tongue on the roof of their mouth and build up pressure before they release. Sometimes just telling them to push hard on the roof of their mouth will be all they need to get the CH sound.


Jack Hartmann has a fun cd teaching sounds through music

Carolyn Bowen (you’d think I was her new best friend the way I speak of her) has wonderful pictures for minimal pairs on her website

So here you go, a few more tricks to add to your magic speech therapy bag! We’ll see you next Monday morning!

Leah and Dean


  1. This is great info. My 2yo sucks in his cheeks when he says sh or ch. He does it sometimes with a t sound, but I can get him to isolate the blend tr (as in truck, one of his favorite things!) by emphasizing the r and he does better. Any advice on the sh or ch?

  2. Hi Anonymous, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. I'm only guessing here but it sounds like he may be sucking air in to make the sounds and not blowing the air out. At this age sh and ch aren't established in all children so you may not want to target those sounds specifically for therapy, but you will want to do some speech stimulation. I suggest two things: 1) practice blowing things in play (eg pinwheels and bubbles are great teaching the concept of blowing out instead of sucking in).
    2) auditory bombardment-read lists of sh or ch words everyday. Use slight amplification (a paper towel roller makes a good one) and slightly stress the sound.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Thank you! We have tried a few games of blowing the cotton ball through the straw, which he thought was hilarious, but b/c of his age it quickly became a game of straw hockey with the cotton ball as the puck! He is blowing out when he makes the sh & ch sounds, but he involves the cheeks instead of isolating the tongue more. I'm hoping he grows out of it (I know he's very young for me to be worried) but would love game ideas to practice better sounds. He's on to me, and stubborn, so I can't obviously "teach" the sound to him! Thanks for your response! I will try more bubbles and blowing games and hope the rest comes around.

  4. Do you guys have any suggestions for helping a child with a lateral "sh" and "ch"? I've tried the s->j sound, but it is not working.

  5. The updated link for Pam Marshalla's post is: --- we get several error redirects from your post to our website each month -- I advise that you update the link! Thank you ~

  6. I have a child who frequently substitutes /ch/ for /sh/ in phrases, sentences and at the conversational level. Any tips on how to help him understand the difference? We've been working on it for over a year now.