Minimal Pairs
For Speech Therapy

First, let's review the definition of minimal pairs. Minimal pairs are 2 words that differ by one sound.  For example, "cat" and "bat" are minimal pairs because they differ by only the first sound/phoneme /k/ and /b/.  

Minimal Pairs In Speech Therapy

Why are minimal pairs an important part of speech/articulation therapy?

That is easy to answer!

  • Positioning: I usually focus on explicit instruction of placement (how to say each sound) during minimal pair activities. It is a great way to have a client "feel" the difference between their error sound and the correct sound in a very focused manner. 
  • Auditory Discrimination: By listening to the error sound and the correct sound at the same time, the client begins to hear the difference between the two. This helps with awareness and self-correction. 
  • Drill: It is a great way to get some drill practice at the beginning of each session. 
  • AwarenessMinimal pair tasks are usually "distraction free" and "focused." This way the child can truly work on how to say their target sounds in contrast with their current speech errors.

Practice Ideas

Here are some of my favorite ways to use minimal pairs in speech therapy:

  • I use minimal pairs almost every session at the beginning to introduce/review goals.
  • I have the child be the "teacher" and tell me which word to circle. The client says one of the words and I circle it (you can do this in teletherapy too using an annotation tool).
  • Say a word and have the child point (in-person treatment) or circle (remote learning) the named picture. This helps with auditory discrimination!
  • Have the child name both words, one after the other, to feel how their articulators move differently for each sound.
  • Have the child use both words in one sentence (advanced!)

Free Google Slide Decks

Just for being here, I have a free Google Slides Deck. Just click the link below to access it!

How To Access ALL the minimal pair decks

If you are a member of Speech Therapy Talk, then simply login and click on Fall Activities.

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Bridget is an ASHA certified, practicing speech-language pathologist. She is passionate about providing parents with information on child speech and language development as well as provide functional, easy activities to do at home! Parents have the power to make a real difference. Follow Bridget at Facebook and Pinterest for more fun!

Author of  child language development eBook series


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