Articulation games are fun activities used to practice speech sounds in a context outside of normal speech. The games themselves might take any form, but typically involve a reward or advancement for successful pronunciation of a sound. Children are thought to benefit from pronunciation games when speech therapy is used to target specific language deficits, such as an inability to pronounce words that contain "r" sounds. By practicing production of the sound in a way that is divorced from the stress of conversation, people can learn to correctly produce the sound and integrate that sound into daily speech naturally.
Typically, a speech therapist designs articulation games to address a specific problem. Game play should not be so absorbing that it detracts from the articulation. Depending on the age of the student, games can be complex or as simple as saying a word to achieve a number of points. Usually, the speech sounds themselves must still be located in words for articulation games to be effective.
For example, one kind of activity that could be used in speech therapy involves writing words on cards and hiding different numbers of points under the cards. Many people can play together, and the person who has the most points at the end of the game wins. The game Go Fish, which involves using cards with target words, is also popular for speech therapy, because it involves verbally asking for cards that bear the same target word. Alternatively, one could have a matching game with pairs of cards. The important part from the speech therapy perspective is that articulation games involve significant amounts of speech practice.
Most articulation games can be adapted to any sound, but it is important that the sound match the player's needs. For instance, most people have problems with only a few categories of sounds, such as the "w" sound or "l" sound. Game play is much less important than using words that contain these sounds within the game, so the sound used is the primary difference between games.
Some people need help with articulation that is not specific to particular sounds. For instance, some people speak too quickly or slur words together. If speaking clearly is a problem at the sentence level, games can be adapted for practice of this nature. Typically, articulation games only address problems at the sound level.
The many different types of articulation games all have practice of speech sounds in common. While simple games that involve articulating a word in order to achieve a reward are most popular, articulation can be incorporated into any type of game. For example, a person might practice making silly nonsense words using the sound, which could be considered a game. Any activity that involves practice will improve a person's ability to articulate and will therefore be effective.