The Nasal /r/

By Pam Marshalla

Q: I have one student who makes /r/ in her nose. It is very nasal. Advice?

Your client should be able to do the following because he is only hypernasal on one sound. That means that he is not structurally hypernasal (velo-pharyngeal insufficiency), nor does he have a motor speech disorder that causes him to be functionally hypernasal all the time. He simply has a habit of directing sound out the nose instead of the mouth when he says /r/. This is what I do:

  1. First help him understand the difference between making sound out the mouth and out the nose. To do this, use a tube – a vinyl tube, a RapperSnapper – that can stretch from his mouth to his ear, and from his nose to his ear. A tube is CRITICAL for this, so go out and get one.
  2. Have him produce /m/, and have him experiment with the tube. Put one end of the tube at his ear. Put the other end at his mouth, and then put it at his nose. Help him discover that /m/ comes out the nose. Then repeat with /n/ and /ng/. Help him understand that only three sounds should come out the nose – /m/, /n/, and /ng/.
  3. Then have him make several vowels, and have him experiment with the end of the tube again – put it at the mouth and put it at the nose. Help him discover that a vowel always comes out the mouth and NOT the nose.
  4. Then teach him that /r/ should come out the mouth like a vowel. Teach him that he is trying to say /r/ by making his sound come through the nose.
  5. Teach him to make his OLD /r/ out the mouth instead of the nose. In other words, don’t try to get a perfect /r/ yet. Just have it come out the mouth. Use the tube to help him discover how to do this.
  6. Then return to your tongue positioning work to get a correct /r/ out the mouth. (He may have it already once he figures out how to direct the sound out the mouth in the step above.)

That’s what I do. Hope it helps you.

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