High Frequency Word List for Articulation Therapy

Focusing on frequently used words in articulation therapy

I’ve been considering word selection for articulation targets a little differently lately.  If a child’s name, my name, siblings, pets, etc. contained a target sound for the child, I’ve always added that to our word list.  But beyond that, I’ve typically selected words with the best phonemic environment with a very subjective approach to frequency of use.

Then I went to Dr. Secord’s lecture in which he brought up the importance of using high frequency words and I started getting more organized about it.  Though even selecting a “frequently used words” list to start with was problematic.

Do I Say That?

Word use frequency is so dependent on the individual.  My husband uses “database” regularly while I could limit myself to ten “database” a year and probably not need to worry much about it.  On the other hand, he’s seldom used the word “mascara” or “wedge” (as in, “I need a cute wedge to go with my new sundress.”)

Lots of hobbies—cooking, sports—have specific vocabulary that doesn’t come up for outsiders very often.  So where to start?

I finally found a word list of a thousand most frequently used words in written material for students.  This seemed most likely to fit the bill for the kiddos I see.  While I realize we use some words in conversation more than in written, and vice versa, students are so often asked to read aloud it seemed at least probable that these are words that come up over and over for my kiddos.

I used the list when I was sending home my summer speech activities (click here if you need a copy), but it was ordered by frequency rank.  Interesting, but I needed it re-sorted.

Free Resource for Articulation Therapy

So….here it is.  I’ve organized it by initial, medial, final and blends according to rank, then I went back and re-sorted the medial and final position words by vocalic context and the blends by adjacent consonant(s).  I think this will be a huge help to me next year!  A few notes, the vowels are based on how my kiddos would say the word and a couple might be different based on geographic region.  Also, there were a number of words with recurrent sounds.  I listed them in parenthesis in each of the target positions they address (ex. “temperature” appears as both a medial and final /r/ word).

Click to pick up a free copy.

As an aside, it was a fascinating exercise.  There were so many blends!  This will definitely change my approach to some kiddos.

Let me know what you think!



This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Julie Graham

    This will be so helpful!!! Thank you for sharing.

    1. admin

      Glad to hear it! Come back for more! Kim

  2. Lara

    Yes, please post them! I think they would be valuable to many!
    Thank you!

    1. admin

      Thanks for letting me know. I’m planning to work on /s/ this week so stay tuned! Kim

  3. Jennifer

    Yes! Please do 🙂 Thank You!! 🙂

    1. admin

      Will do 🙂

  4. Chris Gerber

    Great list! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Aersta

    This is fantastic! Thanks for the great resource!

    Aersta @ thespeechclinic.wordpress.com

  6. Shelly

    This is great! I feel like I *use* the same words over and over again in therapy because that’s what’s available, but there are so many words that we *do* use that there may not be pictures for so I skip them. This is super helpful! Thank you so much for sharing and yes- you create it, we will share it! (in the therapy room!)

  7. Kelly Davis

    This is wonderful! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this and for sharing as a freebie. Please share more lists as you complete them! 🙂

  8. Shannan Weimer

    This /R/ is list is fantanstic! Thank you for sharing as a freebie and I would love for you to share more lists as you complete them 🙂

  9. Leanne

    Thank you for this list. Yes, please post your other ones 🙂
    I’m new to your blog. I’m sure you differentiate for your students the difference between the /r/ as a consonant and the vowel pattern of r-controlled vowels (also known as vocalic r) and you may have mentioned this already so please excuse my ignorance. I just thought I’d chime and mention that I teach my students the vocal r list from high to lower frequency (er, ir, ur, or, ar, ear) in order to facilitate improved spelling. Not only do they see it in a word, underline the pattern and articulate the target sound, but if their age and ability allow for it, they also take part in auditory drills where I say the word, they repeat it and then spell it and underline or highlight the target sound. So, each session has a visual and auditory drill. If they are older, I introduce or reinforce the patterns when they occur as suffixes and the student learns their meaning and practices choosing between -er or -or (i.e. actor versus farmer) when spelling.

    1. admin

      I do use vocalic /r/, and you’ll notice on my word list, I’ve sorted this way as an option too. That said, I don’t approach it as you do. I follow the approach set forth by “Say It Right” and find that, most often, “ear” or “air” words are the most stimulable for my students. I did get thinking though during my organization of this list about the frequency of some /r/s over others and was thinking that, in the future, this would also influence my target decision. Thank you for bringing up another approach! Kim

  10. Paula Townsend

    This is so helpful! Thanks so much for sharing. I would love to see more lists as you prepare them, if you’re inclined to share!

  11. Debbie Thornhill

    Thanks so much for sharing these lists! So helpful!

Comments are closed.


The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.