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Get to Know Your Speech Sounds: /k/
How is the Sound Produced?
  • /k/ is typically made with the back of the tongue placed on the velum, the soft part of the roof of the mouth.
  • Teeth are apart with the jaw dropped.
  • Air builds up behind the tongue and is released when the sound is made.
  • The voice is off; the vocal cords are not vibrating.
When Does the Sound Develop?*
  • 50% of children produce the /k/ sound by age 2. This is when the sound is emerging.
  • 90% of children produce the /k/ sound by age 4. This is when the sound should be acquired. If the child is not producing the sound by this point, speak with a speech-language pathologist.
Common Errors
  • /k/ is an early-developing consonant sound.
    • The tongue comes forward in the mouth, and /t/ is substituted for /k/ (e.g., “cape” becomes “tape”).
    • The vocal folds vibrate, and /g/ is substituted for /k/ (e.g., “key” becomes “gee”).
  • /k/ is impacted by the phonological process of fronting: sounds made in the back of the mouth /k/ and /g/ are substituted for sounds made in the front of the mouth /t/ and /d/ (e.g., “keep” becomes “teep”, “gate” becomes “date”). This process should be gone by age 4.
Tips for Cueing**
  • Verbal
    • “Scrunch your tongue”.
    • “Push your tongue to the back of your mouth.”
    • “Make the bird noise. ‘Caw, caw caw!’”
Visual
  • Show the student the picture above. Ask the child to describe how the tongue, lips, and jaw look.
  • In front of a mirror, show the difference between how the error sound is made and how the /k/ is made. For example, if the child is substituting /t/ for /k/, point out how the tongue is forward during the /t/ sound and how the tongue is back for the /k/ sound.
  • Point backward before a word with a /k/ sound to remind the child to keep the back of their tongue at the top of their mouth.
Tactile
  • Lay on the floor. Relax the tongue, and notice how it falls to the back of the mouth. The back of the tongue should be touching the roof of the mouth. Say the /k/ sound.
  • Practice***
    Spelling is tricky! The /k/ sound can be spelled with the letters “c”, “k”, “cc”, and “ck”. The letters “qu” are actually a /kw/ cluster. The letter “x” is actually a /ks/ cluster. Even though “ch” contains the letter “c”, it does not make the /k/ sound. “c” also makes the /s/ sound. “k” can be silent (e.g., knot). Even though a word may end with another letter, if the /k/ sound is pronounced last, it is considered a final /k/ word (e.g., bake). The /k/ sound is underlined in these practice targets.
  • Phonemic Awareness
    • Name each picture. Point to the pictures with the /k/ sound.†
  • Isolation
    • k-k-k
    • k-k-p-k-k-p
    • k-t-k-t-k-t
  • Syllable
    • ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka
    • ik-ik-ik-ik-ik
    • eka-eka-eka-eka-eka
    • kee-ka-kee-ka-kee-ka
    • key-ka-kay-ko-key-ka-kay-ko
Initial Final Medial Recurring Blend
cap
cabin
kindergarten
black
sock
snowflake
acorn
sneaker
pelican
cook
kicker
cookbook
crown
fox
quoted
  • Phrase
    • pile of cash
    • mace a scene
    • just a second
    • book a locker
    • cucumber and coconut
    • crisp and clean
  • Sentence
    • The bear cave is far away.
    • Give the prize to Mike.
    • My team won the soccer match.
    • Would you rather fly in a rocket or on a magic carpet?
    • He baked complicated cookie and cake recipes.
    • Kristen was the queen of class.
  • Structured Language
    • Let’s cook soup! Break out the play (or real) food and kitchen and add /k/ ingredients such as “chicken”, “bacon”, “corn”, “carrots”, “broccoli”, and “cabbage” to the pot to “cookk. You may even include silly ingredients such as “candy”, “chocolate”, and “tacos”.
    • Draw a picture of a zoo. Explain your picture using the words “monkey”, “kangaroo”, and “snake” with your best /k/ sound.
    • Play “Pat-A-Cake” with your best /k/ sound.
  • Unstructured Language
    • Talk about your favorite movie using your best /k/ sound.
    • Sing your favorite song using your best /k/ sound.
    • Talk about a picture in a book using your best /k/ sound.
*These milestones are based on monolingual, native English speakers. If a child speaks more than one language, acquisition of English sounds can be influenced by the other language(s). These differences do not necessarily indicate a speech sound disorder. Please consult with a speech-language pathologist.

**Not all cues are appropriate in all cases. Please consult with a speech-language pathologist before cueing.

***Ask your child’s speech-language pathologist which targets are appropriate to practice.

† “Corn”, “raccoon”, and “rake” contain the /k/ sound.
Resources
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (n.d.) Age of Customary Consonant Production. (Practice Portal). Retrieved August 16, 2022, from www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Clinical-Topics/Articulation-and-Phonology/.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (n.d.) Selected Phonological Processes. (Practice Portal). Retrieved August 16, 2022, from www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Clinical-Topics/Articulation-and-Phonology/.
 
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