Vanessa has always had a hard time pronouncing the letter R. Lately, though, she’s become keenly aware that she can’t roll her Rs. Out of the blue, she’ll repeat words like perro and carro and rápido and ask me if she’s saying them right. Unfortunately, she’s not. But I’m not freaking out just yet because I’ve read this is normal since Spanish speaking children typically don’t learn to roll their R’s until they’re between 5 and 7 years old. This means Vanessa still has a little over a year!
In all seriousness though, she’s not happy that she can’t do it and so I’ve been wanting to help her practice how to roll her R’s the last few days. Yesterday, I decided to do some research and now I have a few exercises to use with her that I want to share with you.
For starters, here’s the advice one of our very own experta, Ellen Stubbe Kester, Ph.D, CCS-LLP, a bilingual speech language professional, told one of our readers about three years ago regarding her daughter’s trouble rolling her R’s:
The trilled R is a D sound with the tip of the tongue moving. Try these drills:
The syllable level:
DRA DRE DRI DRO DRU
TRA TRE TRI TRO TRU
The word level:
PARDO, TARDE, CUERDA, GORDO
I also found these rhymes and tongue twisters recommended for learning how to roll Rs. Check them out:
- El cielo está enladrillado
El cielo está enladrillado,
quién lo desenladrillará.
El desenladrillador que lo desenladrille,
buen desenladrillador será.
- El otro día me caí
al lado de un barril.
El barril tenia ruedas
¡Qué raro barril!
Y con las ruedas
caí en el barro marrón!
Fui a mi casa, me bañé rápido
y dije todo otra vez
- Erre con erre, guitarra,
erre con erre, barril.
¡Mira que rápido ruedan
las ruedas redondas
TRABALENGUAS (or Tongue Twisters)
- Borracho un ratón robó
un ramo de rosas rojas.
El rabo se le enredó
y rodó de rosa en rosa.
- El ratón se come un bombón.
Se viene un gato marrón a comer el ratón.
Pero el bombón reventó, ¡BOM!
So I’m going to go ahead and practice these with Vanessa. We’ll see how it goes. Promise to keep you posted.
Got any rhymes or tongue twisters of your own? Please share!
Isaías has the same problem! This is a relief, knowing that it’s normal for his age. Thanks for the great ideas. I’m sure they’ll help my nonnative tongue too!
Yes, I was relieved too. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted.
That’s wonderful! Thank you, my husband and I have been so anxious about the Rs and the Ñs that our son seems to struggle with, to the point that we contacted a friend of a friend who is a speech therapist in Colombia to see if it’s normal. Turned out that at 3 there aren’t many sounds he actually supposed to be very good at.
That’s great that you have a friend who’s a speech therapist! I’m not super concerned about this and I guess, in the end, if she doesn’t get it, it won’t be the end of the world. The interesting thing is that she’s noticed pretty much alone that she can’t do it…
I love your trabalenguas Roxana!
I made this one a song saying it over and over with my son and he loves it!
Ruedan las ruedas del ferrocarril
RRRRuedan las rrrrruedas del ferrrrrocarrril
I bet you can say it faster than mami? and he does : )
Thanks for sharing that, Xochitl! I’m going to teach it to my daughter. It reminds me of a game we used to play in Peru that went something like this: Fe-rro-ca-rril, carril, carril…. De Lima a Callao, Callao, Callo. Un paso pa’ tras, pa’ tras.
Roxana- I hadcompletely forgotten about that game. So many memories!! My almost 4 year old can’t roll his Rs either yet. I am going to teach him some of these games to make it more fun!
This is a *wonderful* (and timely) post!!!!! Out of my 4 kids, only 2 can roll their “rr.” When we spent the summer in Mexico last year, we took the 2 older kids to a speech therapist there to help them. She had them sticking out their tongue blowing strawberries a lot, to help them feel for the vibrations the tongue should make. Then she taught them where to place their tongue behind their teeth. One funny thing she did that worked (she was able to teach my older daughter to roll rr) was hold their cheeks kind-of smooshed together (put your hand under their chin and squeeze their cheeks together). Then they would try to roll their rr’s and she would have them blow a lot of air out at the same time- so it was almost an “rr” whisper, with a lot of air. She said it was easiest at the beginning of words, so she would have them practice “rra, rre, rri, rro, rru.” It’s all so interesting- I need to practice more with my other 2 kids!!!!
Wow, Becky! I’m loving all the info you’ve shared with us here. Thank you so much! I’ll definitely be trying these exercises with Vanessa. Vamos a ver que pasa…
I am so happy to find this site!
I have been working with my self, and my children in not losing our accent. It is so easy to lose the accent when American intonation patterns come in: especially the way Americans extend the last word of a sentence, vs the way my Colombian family clips the end.
That is a dead giveaway to an American accent, and it’s happening to me!!!
Thank you for leading me here, Roxana, I am enjoying my morning reading the archives.
What a wealth of resource!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’m glad you found us and that you’re enjoying what you’re reading! Ana and I have been reading you since Carrie over at the Tiki Tiki Blog introduced us to you! We love your voice!
Gracias por visitarnos and for sharing about your children and you.
Oh thank you! I was worried too since I haven’t been the best teacher to my little girl. She cannot roll her R’s yet so we will be practicing some of these.
In the English language rolling r’s is used pretty rarely but we only roll our tongue with some words such as ladder, butter, order, better or bitter. The roll is pretty silent. I’m learning Spanish now and this site has this cool exercise to help people roll there r’s. Even though I’m 21 this seems very useful to me. Latin languages are my favorite of all languages. So they include Spanish, Italian and Brazilian Portuguese.