This advice-column-style blog for SLPs was authored by Pam Marshalla from 2006 to 2015, the archives of which can be explored here. Use the extensive keywords list found in the right-hand column (on mobile: at the bottom of the page) to browse specific topics, or use the search feature to locate specific words or phrases throughout the entire blog.
Q: I have tried “everything” to teach R to this one client and he has gotten nowhere. Then one day he learns a Spanish trilled /r/, and WHAM! He gets an American R right away. Can you explain this?
Van Riper wrote about this as one method for teaching the retroflex R: “Have the child imitate you as you trill the tongue-tip. Then use this trill to precede the vowel E” (Van Riper, Speech Correction, 1947, p. 142).
Think of speech as comprised of POSTURES and MOVEMENTS –
- POSTURE: Trilling the tongue sets the tongue in the right posture. The trill sets the tongue wide in the back with its perimeter curled upwards. This is the exact posture for the retroflex R.
- MOVEMENT: Curling the whole tongue back while trilling moves it back in the right direction for R.