How do I make my student say the AW sound?
You can help students explore the variables of function and deepen their relationship with their own voice: have them see what they are doing by having them look in a mirror, or hear what they are doing by using a recording device, or feel what they are doing by using their hands and inner perception. All of these senses and knowledge of anatomy and technique combine to support vocal shifts.
AW is neither lateral like AY nor rounded like OH — it is right in the middle and can be one of the hardest vowel sounds for many students.
If the sound is too much like an open OH, you can have your student smile or alternate between EE and AW or between a nasty “a” (as in cat) and AW.
If the AW has the opposite problem and lacks warmth and depth, then alternate the AW sound with an OH vowel.
Notice these things:
Is the jaw clenched or thrust open too wide?
Is the tongue pulled high and back or laying flat inside the bottom teeth?
What is happening with the relationship between the soft palate and the back of the tongue — does it improve if the person thinks of feeling surprised or is it better if they think of making an NG hum?
As a teacher you don’t have to know all the answers. It is more important to understand what the elements are that can be played with and to help your students develop awareness of their own voice as they play with those elements.