List of Multisyllabic Words for Speech Therapy
What are Multisyllabic Words | Targetting Multisyllabic Words | Multisyllabic Word List | Multisyllabic Word Lists by Word Structure | How to Pronounce Multisyllabic Words | Games and Activities | Using Forbrain
Multisyllabic words are simply words that contain more than one syllable (or vowel sound). Multisyllabic words are often used in speech therapy for a variety of purposes. Commonly, in speech therapy, multisyllabic words are used to target articulation skills, but are occasionally used for word decoding or phonological awareness skills as well. This resource provides a comprehensive list of multisyllabic words, both broken down by syllable and by word type. We hope this resource will be helpful for parents and speech therapists alike who are working on multisyllabic words with their children.
What Are Multisyllabic Words?
Multisyllabic words are longer words containing at least 2 syllables. Multisyllabic words in speech therapy are very important and often a goal therapists will set for children. There are many reasons a speech therapist may work on multisyllabic words in speech therapy, such as:
- Deleting weak syllables in words (“Nana” for “Banana”)
- Deleting consonants in words (“Able” for “Table” or “Buh-er” for “Butter”)
- Articulation errors
- Difficulty with phonological processing or phonological awareness
Understanding how to correctly pronounce, combine, or decode multisyllabic words is very important. Multiple syllable words are important for speech development, word decoding, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and overall effective communication.
Why Do We Target Multisyllabic Words?
Many children have difficulty producing all the sounds and syllables in multiple syllable words. For some children, this is because of a phonological process called “weak syllable deletion”. In weak syllable deletion, a “weak” syllable in a word is omitted, for example, saying “batty” instead of “battery” or “ah-gator” for “alligator”. Other children may have difficulty producing multiple syllable words because of specific speech sounds in the words. For example, a child who says /t/ for /k/ may have difficulty producing the word “crocodile” in a way that others can understand. For many children, both of these may apply.
List of 100+ Multisyllabic Words
The following is a comprehensive multisyllabic word list, separated by category. When working on multisyllabic words in speech therapy, it is important to remember to use words that are common and meaningful to your child. The more meaningful or common the word, the more likely the child is to generalize it to their conversational speech. This list gives many suggestions of words, but is not a complete list of all words that can be targeted for this goal.
|2 syllable||3 syllable||4 syllable||5 syllable|
Multisyllabic Word Lists by Word Structure
Multisyllabic words are found in all parts of speech. Depending on the age or language ability of the child, certain word forms may be more appropriate to target with your child. For example, younger children such as preschoolers do not use as many adjectives or adverbs, so it may be better to work on multisyllabic words that are nouns or verbs so targets are more meaningful. Below, you can find a list of multisyllabic words broken down by word form:
Pronouncing Multisyllabic Words
Because multisyllabic words are more complex, they can be more challenging for children with moderate to severe articulation or phonological disorders, or apraxia of speech. However, there are several techniques that are effective for helping children learn to pronounce multisyllabic words.
Touch cues can be a great way to help children identify all the syllables they hear (or should hear) in the word, and a great way for adults to give feedback on how many syllables the child is saying. Touch cues can be things like a tap on the hand, arm, or table. Sometimes, pairing touch cues with a visual cue as well, like a dot or circle to represent each syllable, can further help children with their pronunciation.
Mouth cues can be a little trickier than touch cues, and it is beneficial to have support from a speech-language pathologist to incorporate this one into home practice. That being said, mouth cues can be very simple, such as a point to the mouth, or more complex, such as different hand signs to represent different sounds. Typically, the more complex hand cues are more beneficial for children working on multisyllabic words. This is because the different cues help children understand the different sounds they are hearing so they can reproduce them more easily.
Word segmentation is a great strategy when you are working on words that contain prefixes or suffixes. For this, you would take the base word that the child can say more easily and then pair it with the prefix or suffix with a slight delay. For example, if you were practicing the word ‘Unhappy” you would say “Un…happy” to give the additional syllable some extra emphasis. This strategy can often be paired with others as well.
Visual aids can take many forms! A visual aid could simply be the word written down, dots or other images to represent syllables, or visuals for the specific speech sound the child is practicing. Visual aids are best used in conjunction with other strategies, but can be very helpful for children.
Knowing Where to Start
When working on multisyllabic words, we typically don’t recommend starting with the most complex words. Instead, we usually start with 2 syllable words, then 3 syllable, and continue working up as children master each level. Starting at the correct level is important for your child. If it is too hard for them at the start, they may lose the motivation to continue practicing.
Games & Activities for Multisyllabic Words
If you are working on multisyllabic words in speech therapy, as a parent or SLP, some of the games and activities below may be useful for you. Engaging activities for multisyllabic words are very important to help keep childrens’ attention and make faster progress.
Coloring is an engaging activity for children of all ages. To use coloring as a multisyllabic words activity, simply choose 10-15 words appropriate for your child and either draw them or print them out. As your child colors the pictures, have them practice saying each word using all the syllables and their best speech sounds.
Kids love to drum! On the table, on the wall, or on an actual drum (if you have one). This activity is great for building awareness of how many syllables are in words, and there are so many ways to practice it! You can say the word while drumming out the syllables and the child can imitate, you say the word and they drum the syllables, show the child a picture and have them drum the syllables, or even make up songs using the words they have been practicing.
This activity is targeted more for children who have been practicing for a while, but are having trouble using the longer words in conversation. For this game, pick 2 words from our word list and take turns making up silly sentences using both of the words. For example, if you chose the words “flamingo” and “alphabet” your sentence could be “The flamingo sang the alphabet.” You can also write them down for later practice.
Discrimination activities are helpful for children who are just starting out, or who are moving up to words with more syllables. One way to practice this is to gather a large group of items together. The child can then sort the items based on how many syllables are in its name. So, if you got together scissors, tissue, tablet, pencil, a stuffed kangaroo, a lollipop, and a telephone, the child could sort them into 2-syllable and 3-syllable words. This can also be done without physical items using pictures or just telling the words to the child.
Reading with your child is a great activity, no matter what speech therapy goal they have. To work on multisyllabic words while reading, first identify which level your child is at (2, 3, 4, or 5 syllables). While you are reading, stop each time you come to a word at their level and practice it together. If they are older or are working on carryover, they can try and practice using it in the whole sentence.
Using Forbrain For a Better Sound Practice
Forbrain is an auditory stimulation headset that uses bone conduction, allowing your voice to reach your brain at a much faster speech. It also makes your voice more vibrant by highlighting high frequencies and attenuating low frequencies.
Forbrain is an excellent choice for working on multisyllabic words in speech therapy because it allows immediate feedback of the word produced, including the speech sounds and number of syllables. This immediate feedback will help children learn to self-monitor, and can help them to correct their pronunciation or responses without additional prompting. Forbrain can lead to improved progress on learning to produce all sounds and syllables in multisyllabic words
For more information regarding Forbrain’s use in speech therapy, see this ASHA article.
Many children have difficulty correctly producing multisyllabic words. They may have difficulty using all the syllables, pronouncing specific sounds, or both. Being able to correctly pronounce multisyllabic words is very important for children to be able to effectively communicate with others. If you have concerns about your child’s ability to pronounce words with multiple syllables, please consult with a licensed speech-language pathologist to see if speech therapy may be right for you. You can search for a speech-language pathologist in your area using this tool if you need a place to start. In the meantime, some of the resources, games, and activities mentioned in this article may be helpful for you as you work with your child at home.