ALL
Health Information and Tools > Speech, Language and Hearing > Speech >  Learning speech sounds in English
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Speech, Language and Hearing

Learning speech sounds in English

​​​Children learn speech sounds at different times. The age when most children can say a sound is one thing that helps speech-language pathologists (SLPs) assess a child’s speech.

Between 2 years and 3 years

Most children will learn to say these sounds:

  • p, b, m
  • d, n
  • h
  • w
  • vowel sounds like ah, ee, oh, and oo

By the time a child is 2 years old, parents can usually understand their speech half of the time.

Between 3 years and 4 years

Most children will learn to say these sounds:

  • t
  • k, g, ng
  • f
  • y

By the time a child is 3 years old, parents can usually understand their speech most of the time.

Between 4 years and 5 years

Most children will learn to say these sounds:

  • s, z
  • l
  • sh, ch, j
  • v

By the time a child is 4 years old, parents can usually understand their speech all of the time.

Between 5 years and 6 years

Most children will learn to say these sounds:

  • r
  • zh (as in "treasure")
  • th (as in "the")

Siblings, friends, parents, and others can usually understand the child.

Between 6 years and 7 years

Most children will learn to say this sound:

  • th (as in "teeth")

How parents can help

Model sounds and words for your child. Say and repeat sounds clearly and correctly.

If your child cannot say the sounds expected for their age, contact a speech-language pathologist.

Where to get help

For more information about how speech-language pathologists can help, contact your:

  • doctor, public health nurse, or other health provider
  • local health centre

Age

Sounds

Example

2 to 3 years

p

b

m

d

n

h

w

​pop

bee

mom

dad

no

hat

we

3 to 4 years

t

f

k

g

ng

y

top

foot

kite

go

sing

yes

4 to 5 years

s

z

l

sh

ch

j

v

so

zoo

like

she

chin

jump

van

5 to 6 years

r

zh

th

red

treasure

the

6 to 7 years

th

teeth

Table 1. Average age at which 75% of children in the United States use English consonants (Crowe & McLeod, 2020)​

Go to Top