Phonetics and CSD Programs

In 2001, Michael Moran and James Fitch published an article titled Phonological Awareness Skills of University Students: Implications for Teaching Phonetics. I first read the article in Summer 2010 and have thought of it often. When I was a Senior in the UWG Speech-Language Pathology Undergrad program, I offered Phonetic tutoring sessions for the rising juniors. I took a liking to the different ‘language’ phonetics offers, and thought I could lend some help.

What is most striking about the article is the “Phonological Awareness Tasks” which the authors tried on 21 CSD students taking a phonetics course.

The tasks look at:

  • Phoneme Switching (“had bear” = “bad hair”
  • Phonetic Reversal (“sick” = “kiss)
  • Phoneme Counting (soul = 3 phonemes)
  • Vowel Matching (“shoe” matches “two”)

ASHA offers Curriculum Resources for Academic Faculty in the CSD-SLP-AUD fields. However, there are no set guidelines for how to teach each course, such as Phonetics. After finding several Phonetics Syllabus from across the country (see references), I wish there was more collaboration among CSD program faculty state and nation wide. Not that the way UWG teaches is wrong or right (I certainly learned from the design), but to my knowledge, there isn’t much cohesion in how each school designs the course.

Perhaps there is a code among institutions – our way is better, so choose our school over theirs. If we are all ending up with the same credentials – CCC-SLP – shouldn’t we all receive the same instruction? Perhaps it should start with better cohesion in the makeup and design of CSD programs. Maybe I’m just out of the loop?

Moran and Fitch noticed students who did not learn Phonetics as easily as others may be due to factors other than lack of effort and studying. Rather, they noticed students may have underlying deficits in Phonological awareness. I agree whole-heatedly with their research and would love the opportunity to replicate it. At the least, I think their Appendix regarding Phonological Awareness tasks are a good starting point for Phonetics courses; that way professors can ID students who need additional practice before they get behind.

Just a student perspective, but perhaps if I ever have the opportunity to teach a Phonetics course, I will follow through. 🙂

A comic to leave you thinking.

I choose exercise!


Moran, M.J. & Fitch, J.L. (2001) Phonological awareness skills of university students: Implications for teaching phonetics. Contemporary Issues in Communication Sciences and Disorders, 28, 85-90.

sarasotta phonetics syllabus

University of Calgary – Canada – Phonetics Syllabus

uga phonetics syllabus

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