SLTinfo logo

Easy Onset

go to contents icon


Single words

This is an extension of the exercises introduced in Yawn-sigh into Vowels and Limbering on ‘h’.

To begin with, have the clients produce each word as if following the yawn-sigh exercise, i.e.

  1. Have clients take in a deep, relaxed breath using the abdominal technique, yawning if necessary.
  2. Have them gently expel the air as if sighing and producing the sound /h/.
  3. As the relaxed sigh continues, have them gradually shape the first word by lengthening each sound, g. /h::::u::::t/ “hoot”.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 above with each word in the list.


  1. Continuing to use a relaxed abdominal breathing technique, have clients say each word in the list aloud in turn, in as ‘near-normal’ a manner as possible – as if they were speaking ‘normally’ to a friend (this may still require a slight emphasis on the initial /h/ sound of each word to retain the easy onset).
  2. Remind clients to retain the same relaxed, open vocal set as they achieved when following steps 1-4.


  1. Using a relaxed abdominal breathing technique (as used above) have clients say each two-word phrase in the list aloud in turn, again in as ‘near-normal’ a manner as possible.
  2. If a client tends towards a hard attack when initiating any of the two words in the phrase, remind them to adopt the same relaxed, open vocal set as they achieved when speaking aloud the single words. If they find this particularly difficult, have them emphasize – by lengthening – each /h/ at the beginning of each word in the phrase, e.g. h::::appy h::::earts; h::::ealthy h::::ens, etc.

Contrasting phrases

This exercise consists of 10 lines, each with (1) a two-word phrase in which both words begin with /h/, and (2) a two-word phrase in which both words begin with a vowel, e.g.

hard hat                               any attic

For each line, have the clients speak the first phrase on one breath, then the second phrase on another breath. Encourage clients to identify for themselves the easy, relaxed vocal set of the first phrase and to carry over this relaxed configuration into the production of the second phrase.

Longer utterances

The following exercises are essentially the same as speaking the phrases above. They do, however, build into longer utterances and this will, therefore, tax clients’ breath control a little more.

If any client is observed to strain or ‘push’ the voice because they are running out of breath, point this out to them and help them identify the change in quality of the voice when there is insufficient breath support. Have the client repeat the phrase, either correcting the breath support or, if necessary, taking additional breaths at appropriate points. If any client does need to take additional breaths when speaking a phrase, encourage them to divide up the utterance into meaningful pieces – semantic chunks – to retain the overall sense of the utterance.

Easy Onset Exercises

Single words

  1. hoot   hole   haul   heart   hate   heat
  2. whom   home   harm   hail   heal   whose
  3. hose   horse   haze   heap   hoop   hope
  4. horn   harp   hake   heed   hoard   hard


  1. happy hearts
  2. healthy hens
  3. heavy hands
  4. who’s home?
  5. hungry hamster
  6. he’s harmless
  7. whose hammer?
  8. hasty harvest
  9. hazel hair
  10. hurtful husband
  11. hybrid hedgehog
  12. husky hound

Contrasting phrases

  1. hard hat – any attic
  2. humid home – another axe
  3. heavenly harp – artificial art
  4. hapless harmony – angry actions
  5. hefty hen – extra eggs
  6. high hat – electric eels
  7. helping hand – enough energy
  8. hanging high – old oak
  9. handy hamper – odd ostrich
  10. hardy hare – olive oil

Longer utterances

  1. her holiday handbag
  2. half a halibut, please
  3. the hose is in the hall
  4. the hurdles were high
  5. his horse jumped high
  6. her hens had escaped
  7. the hills were very high
  8. Harry hates headaches
  9. her husband was a hero
  10. heaven is a happy place
  11. hurricanes hardly ever happen!
  12. my hero is obviously my husband.
  13. how can a hen lay so many eggs?
  14. an angel with her halo on her head
  15. an occasional helping of ham and eggs
  16. “Hello Heather!” said the history lecturer
  17. how many horsepower is your other car?
  18. help is always at hand for happy humans
  19. how can you encourage a healthy lifestyle?
  20. I hope to have an effective time in Hampshire
  21. such a heart ache, such a lot of unhappiness!
  22. actors and accountants have heavy schedules
  23. he’s always happy to have Harry stay at home
  24. if it itches scratch it hard, don’t just huff and puff
  25. electric hair tongs can often be harsh on your hair
  26. Halloween may not be especially happy for children
  27. I heard how you ate Henry’s dinner and not your own
  28. Hannah is hardly the best advert for a sense of humor
  29. love your enemies and hope they know how to love you

NEXT >> Homework (Voice Pack 2)