Speech Therapy
High Frequency Word Lists

The words chosen for speech therapy can make all the difference between a good therapy program and a great one! This page focuses on speech therapy high-frequency words.

After attending some wonderful continuing education courses and reading up on the research, I have been doing a lot of thinking on word lists for articulation therapy. Many therapists and parents may grab whatever pre-made materials they can find for therapy; however, that is not the best practice. 

Current Research

After reading the article, Non-words and Generalization in Children With Phonological Disorders, I thought… of course, therapy needs to include high-frequency words.

Now, I have read other articles that say it isn’t necessary to use high-frequency words during therapy.  However, I am not sure if these articles looked at the generalization phase of therapy. 

, I believe there isn’t one approach that works for all children. However, I see a HUGE need for use of high-frequency words in speech therapy when targeting generalization.

* By generalization, I am referring to when a client can say sounds at the word, sentence, or conversation level in therapy but still has errors outside of the therapy room. 

Why Use Speech Therapy High Frequency Words

I see the need for use of high-frequency words during the generalization stage of articulation therapy because: 

  • Children hear high-frequency more often during the day since they are high-frequency! So, if they practice these words in therapy and then hear them outside of therapy, it may start to “click” faster.
  • Children SAY high-frequency word more often during the day since, again, they are high-frequency. Therefore, they may remember the words they practice in therapy and think, “hey...I know how to say that” during conversation.
  • Parents can implement functional practices much easier when using words they are ALREADY saying.

In the beginning of treatment, I see little difference between using high vs low-frequency words. Clients are learning how to say a sound. They are learning a new motor pattern.

Once clients can say the sound at the word, phrase, or even the sentence level, everyone is feeling good. However, as many clients and therapists know, generalization of progress from the therapy room to the everyday life doesn’t magically happen. 

Plateau of Progress

I see many children who have been in therapy for years and they are mostly working on generalization.

Learning to say “xylophone” might alright for the teaching phase of therapy, but how often does a child say “xylophone” throughout the day? Maybe never. 

However, a child may say “zipper” or “zero.” Therapy should focus on these words!

High-Frequency Therapy Materials

I am disappointed by the amount of materials out there that use high-frequency words. I mean, I can’t find ANY good ones (most likely since high-frequency words don’t make for cute graphics) so it looks like I will have to make some.

Check out our latest materials here. 

We have Cariboo cards, flashcards, dot marker sheets, smashmats, generalization activities and more!

Access Free Word Lists

I created some free word lists for parents and adults using only high-frequency words. 

Click the link to take you to the word lists:


› High-Frequency Words



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