The /ng/ sound is a single, distinct consonant sound, even though it is spelled with two letters and sounds similar to /n/. Like the /n/ sound, /ng/ is a nasal sound. This means that the air passes through the nasal passage instead of through the mouth when making the sound. To make this sound, lift the back of your tongue against the soft palate, which is the soft area at the very back of the roof of your mouth, forming a seal. Then make a sound with your vocal cords. Since you have closed off your mouth, the air travels through your nose, creating the /ng/ sound.
Kids usually begin to make this sound at around age two and should have a solid grasp on it by age four. If you notice that your child is four years or older and is still having trouble correctly producing this sound, it is highly recommended that you seek the help of a licensed speech therapist. Addressing the situation sooner rather than later will help prevent a tiny and easily fixed problem from compounding into a larger issue later.
Helping your little with her articulation at home can be fun and rewarding for both of you. Here are some activities and techniques recommended by children’s speech-language pathologists to help stimulate your child’s articulation and to keep track of her progress:
- Verbal cues
To begin practicing, pronounce the sound for your child cleanly and clearly so that she understands the specific sound you are focusing on, what is sounds like, and has a good example to imitate. Repeat the sound slowly for her, “/ng/, /ng/, /ng/.” Encourage your child to repeat it back to you. In time and with lots of practice, your little one will be able to say the sound correctly over and over again. Once she is able to do this, gradually add vowels to the sound to form small syllables. Since /ng/ is not used at the beginning of words in the English language, try it at the end of syllables such as “ing, ing, ing,” “ang, ang, ang,” and “ung, ung, ung.” As she masters these sounds, gradually progress to words, phrases, and sentences with the /ng/ sound.
- Tactile Cues
Since /ng/ is a nasal sound, the tongue blocks the air through the mouth and it instead flows through the nose. IF your child has trouble with this, have him hold is nose as he makes the sound. If the air gets trapped and cannot exit either the nose or the mouth, he will know that he is making the sound correctly. If the air can escape through his mouth, he will know that he needs to reposition his tongue. Another cool feature of nasal sounds is that they vibrate your nose as you say them. Encourage your child to touch the side of his nose when making the /ng/ sound to feel the vibrations.
- Awesome /ng/ Activity
To practice the /ng/ sound with your child, sing the “Sing Song” version of your favorite songs together. Whatever the song is, sing it with the same tune but replace all the words with “sing, song, sing, sing song, sing!” This works equally well with lullabies and songs on the radio. Kids think it is funny when they get to sing the wrong words (and words that don’t have sense, either!) and can even make up their own sing-song tunes! Practice in the car, during bath time, or just bopping around the house!