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Phonological Process: Fronting

Phonological Process: Fronting

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Phonological processes are patterns of errors used by children when attempting to produce adult-like speech.  Most children demonstrate some of these processes when acquiring language.  While these error patterns are common and often times typical, if they persist past a certain age they become atypical.  Fronting is a very common phonological process.

What is fronting: 

Fronting occurs when children substitute sounds made in the back of the mouth with those produced in the front of the mouth (e.g., saying “tan” for “can” or “dot” for “got”).

There are two main types of fronting: velar fronting and palatal fronting.

Velar Fronting:

Velar fronting occurs when children substitute the /k/ and /g/ sounds (produced when the tongue contacts the velum, or soft palate at the back of the throat) with sounds that are made with the front of the mouth, most often the /t/ and /d/ sounds. An example would be a child saying “tea” for “key” or “dame” for “game.”

My favorite fronting story occurred while working with a 6 year old boy who was still demonstrating the phonological process. After several sessions, he correctly said the word “key” all by himself. I started cheering and he looked at me with the biggest smile possible and said “tan you believe I just said that?” 

Palatal Fronting:

Palatal fronting is when children substitute a palatal sound “sh”, “zh”, “ch” and/or “j” (sounds produced towards the back of the roof of the mouth) with sounds that are made more anteriorly.  An example of this process would be a child saying “sue” for “shoe” or “sip” for “chip”.

As with most phonological processes, fronting is common and is present in many young children’s speech.  Usually this process corrects itself as the child’s speech and language skills become more mature.  Fronting is typically eliminated when a child reaches three years and six months (3;6). If your child is continuing to demonstrate the phonological process of fronting beyond the age of 4, it is recommended that you contact a speech-language pathologist.

If you have concerns with your child’s speech and language skills please contact Samantha at Chicago Speech and More by calling (847) 774-0582 or using the contact us form on the website.

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2 Responses to “Phonological Process: Fronting”

  1. I’m enjoying reading through your website – thanks for all the great tips! I am currently working with a preschooler (three and half years old) who is fronting his velar sounds. I have tried working with him using a flavored tongue depressor to hold down the tongue tip, but that stubborn tongue always wants to come up! Do you have any other suggestions or ideas I could try with him?

    • Hi! Thank you so much for your comment. Fronting is tricky. I typically focus on /k/ first because I find that kiddos usually respond best to this. I will touch the front of my throat when over-exaggerating making the /k/ sound and then touch their throat as they attempt to produce it. When this isn’t enough of a cue I have had success with actually having the child lay down on the ground and “throw” their head up while making /k/. This extreme movement often elicits the /k/ sound or a close approximation. Sometimes I have the child just make a guttural/throat clearing sound which we then shape into a more acoustically acceptable /k/ sound. Hopefully something will work for you! Good luck and keep me posted.

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