child using his laptop at home to help improve his speech

Conquering Multisyllabic Words: Effective Speech Therapy Techniques and Strategies

Young children who have speech sound disorders often have difficulty saying words with multiple syllables. In some instances, this is the result of phonological or motor planning difficulties. In general, longer words can be more challenging for all children to say. Therefore, speech-language pathologists may wish to target multisyllabic words during speech therapy sessions. Strategies for teaching multisyllabic words in speech therapy are essential to helping young children master longer words, and multisyllabic words in speech therapy activities are also highly important.

If your child is struggling to say longer or multisyllabic words, or you think they would benefit from speech therapy, get started by scheduling your free introductory call today!

Why is Targeting Multisyllabic Words in Speech Therapy Important?

There are a wide variety of reasons why speech therapists choose to target multisyllabic words in speech therapy sessions.

One of the primary reasons that SLPs choose to target multisyllabic words is to help improve a child’s speech intelligibility. Multisyllabic words can be particularly difficult to produce for children with speech sound disorders.

Multisyllabic words also provide opportunities for children to learn the appropriate prosody or rhythm of words. Stress, rhythm, and intonation all contribute to the intelligibility of a child’s speech.

Targeting multisyllabic words in speech therapy also helps to promote language skills, particularly in the area of vocabulary development.

In addition, by targeting multisyllabic words, the speech therapist is also helping each child to prepare for the development of reading and writing skills, as there are a multitude of multisyllabic words in written language.

Finally, speech and language pathologists may also choose to target multisyllabic words as an additional method of promoting phonological awareness skills.

Why Do Children Need Help with Multisyllabic Words?

Speech and language pathologists commonly work on saying multisyllabic words with children who have been diagnosed with articulation or phonological disorders.

An articulation disorder is defined as the ‘atypical production of speech sounds’ and can involve frequent substitutions, additions, omissions, or distortions. In many cases of articulation disorders, speech intelligibility is negatively impacted.

A phonological disorder, however, involves patterns of rule-based errors. A child with a phonological impairment may demonstrate a process referred to as syllable deletion. This occurs when a syllable is omitted. For example, the child may say ‘nana’ instead of the full word: ‘banana.’

Children who are diagnosed with apraxia of speech may also have difficulty producing multisyllabic words. Childhood apraxia of speech (also referred to as CAS) is a motor speech disorder characterized by difficulties relating to motor planning of the necessary movements for speech.

If your child is struggling with multisyllabic words or you are concerned about your child’s communication skills in general, help is available. Get started with one of our amazing therapists by scheduling your free introductory call today!

How do you Treat Multisyllabic Words in Speech Therapy?

In order to master longer words, children must first learn how to correctly say all of the syllables in a multisyllabic word. Speech pathologists will often try various strategies to encourage the proper speech production of multisyllabic words, including:

Backward Chaining: this method involves teaching the child to say the last syllable first, then slowly going backward and adding to it. For example, when working on the word “butterfly,” the child would begin by saying “fly”, then “terfly”, and finally, “butterfly”.

Forward Chaining: this method is simply the opposite of backward chaining. Start with the beginning syllable, then slowly add syllables, for example: “buh”, then “butter”, then finally “butterfly”.

Use Pom Poms: Using pom poms or some other small object to represent each syllable in a target word can help break down the word into syllables. Each object represents each syllable in the target word and can be practiced in isolation at first.

Emphasize the Vowel in each Syllable: Emphasizing the vowel in each syllable takes the focus off the beginning or ending sounds of each syllable. This can help the child produce longer words more easily. The speech therapist may use gestures, such as circling their lips with their finger to demonstrate the ‘oh’ sound to highlight the vowels.

Show the Written Word – For some children, seeing the written word can be highly beneficial. The speech therapist may write out the word and then underline each syllable.

What is the Most Effective Strategy for Decoding Multisyllabic Words?

Phonological awareness involves the identification and manipulation of the sounds used in spoken language. It is important to understand that phonological awareness skills often have an impact on reading and writing skills. In order to produce multisyllabic words effectively, children require an understanding of phonological awareness tasks such as syllable segmentation and blending. This is also known as decoding.

Syllable segmentation simply means that the words are segmented into syllables. Syllable blending
Involves blending the syllables together to form a new word. These strategies are proven to be effective in helping children to decode and eventually master multisyllabic words.

The Bottom Line

Targeting multisyllabic words during speech therapy sessions can help increase the intelligibility of a child’s speech. Focusing on multisyllabic words can also help children improve phonological awareness skills and learn new vocabulary words. There are many techniques and approaches that speech therapists may use when teaching multisyllabic words. When it comes to mastering multisyllabic words, speech therapy can be one of the most valuable resources for your child. In fact, speech therapy is proven to be highly beneficial even for children who are on track with the development of their communication skills. Research has shown that early intervention offers the best outcome for children who may need additional support as they work on their speech and language abilities. Our amazing speech and language pathologists are waiting to connect with you, so don’t wait! Get started by scheduling your free introductory call today!