Articulation is certainly the most socially-visible sign of speech impairment. It is also a likely indicator of other speech related problems. It is now clear to many that have investigated the issue that there is a direct link between a students environment and the development of their speech processes. Growing up in a "culturally disadvantaged environment" provides a poor backgground for good speech and language say Louis Stoi and Glenn Reeling of Jersey City State College. It was also found that socioeconomic background plays a major role in speech articulation. On the Templin-Darley Articulation Diagnostic Screening Test there was a difference of 16.5 points between 5 year olds from a higher socioeconomic status compared to lower class five year olds. A third factor, which must be stable, is emotional well-being.
Because articulation is a good indicator of academic and personal progress it was used exclusively to study the effect of the 1965 Head Start program. A student with poor articulation often also suffers from low self-image, a bad deit, frequent changes in address, and a unstable family situation. Researchers have found that a child's speech matures most rapidly in the early years and specifically between the ages of 3 and 8. Girls have also been found to have superior articulation in comparison with boys. The results of this study was unanimously positive. Children in the Head Start program all made significant improvement in articulation despite the program only being 8 weeks long.
They concluded that "the fact that such an improvement can occur during a short period warrants optimism for a similar type of preschool program that would extend for at least a full school year.
One additional recommendation Stoi and Reeling make is using Richard Scarry's "Best Word Book Ever" published in 1965 which is of great assistance in developing vocabulary.
Stoira, Louis and Reeling, Gleen E. "Better Speech for Head Start Children." The Elementary School Journal. Vol 67 No 4, January 1967. pg 213-217. http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0013-5984%28196701%2967%3A4%3C213%3ABSFHSC%3E2.0.CO%3B2-H