Postvocalic R

By Pam Marshalla

Q: I have an R-student who is just about ready for dismissal. He can do almost all postvocalic R sounds, but not ER all by itself. Thus, he can say, “deer,” “door,” “dare,” and “dart.” But he cannot say “dirt.” Help!

Your client is almost there! He only needs to learn how separate the ER-part from the preceding vowels he has it attached to. In other words, he needs to learn to isolate ER from the VOWEL+ER’s he is doing. Your client can say ER when it follows Ee, Oo, Ah, and A. Thus he needs to separate the ER-part from the VOWEL-part.

Think of it as a formula in a word. The word CAR = CA + ER

One way to do this is to isolate the ER part from the rest of a word he can already do correctly:

  • Have him say a word he can say with correct R, such as CAR.
  • Then have him PROLONG the vowel (the AH-part).
  • Have him say, CAAAAAAAR.
  • If he can do the above, then have him pause between the AH-part and the ER-part.
  • Have him say, CAAAAAAAAA——ER.
  • If he can do the above, then have him pause longer between the parts.
  • Have him say, CAAAAAA—————ER.
  • Now you have isolated the ER-part from the vowel.
  • Now have him whisper the CA-part. Now ER is even more isolated.
  • Now have him say ER all by itself.

1 thought on “Postvocalic R”

  1. But why would you want to? The world outside America survives perfectly well without a final post-vocalic “r” – Australians open their mouths wide – so no, it’s not any kind of test of competence in spoken English. Simply an accent.

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