Tongue Ultrasound Helps Students Pronounce /r/ Using ultrasound technology to picture the tongue’s shape and movement may help children with difficulty pronouncing /r/, according to the report of a small research study in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Researchers at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and Montclair ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   January 01, 2015
Tongue Ultrasound Helps Students Pronounce /r/
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Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   January 01, 2015
Tongue Ultrasound Helps Students Pronounce /r/
The ASHA Leader, January 2015, Vol. 20, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.20012015.14
The ASHA Leader, January 2015, Vol. 20, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.20012015.14
Using ultrasound technology to picture the tongue’s shape and movement may help children with difficulty pronouncing /r/, according to the report of a small research study in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.
Researchers at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and Montclair State University, led by Tara McAllister Byun, found that ultrasound intervention was effective when participants were allowed to make different shapes with their tongue in order to produce /r/, rather than being told to make a specific shape.
Two factors make /r/ challenging to correct: it is difficult to show or describe how the sound is created, and there is no standard way of creating the sound—speakers use widely different tongue configurations. The two primary strategies to create the sound are a retroflex tongue shape, with the tip pointed up, and the bunched shape, in which the tip points down and the body of the tongue bunches up toward the top of the mouth.
Ultrasound allows speech-language pathologists to show children their tongues as they speak. The SLP holds an ultrasound probe under the child’s chin, and sound waves capture real-time images of the tongue. Using the ultrasound images as a guide, children learn how to manipulate their tongues, with SLPs guiding them on how to make adjustments to achieve different sounds.
The researchers studied eight children in two groups. When the children were allowed to choose a tongue shape—bunched or retroflexed—to form the /r/, the ultrasound biofeedback treatment was highly effective in helping children pronounce the sound.
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January 2015
Volume 20, Issue 1