The R sound is one of the hardest sounds in American English. Practice these exercises to relax around the R and speak effortlessly.
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to invite Tom to give you a practice tip on relaxing around the R.
Tom and I have been working together on Rachel’s English since 2012. He is a fantastic teacher and pronunciation coach. And I’ve invited him here today to give you a practice tip. Take it away, Tom!
The American English R sound can be a tricky one for many students. It tends to create tension in the vowels and diphthongs around it. Whenever any extra tension is used to create any American English sound, that tension creates an accented quality to the English being spoken. Here is an exercise that I use with my students to begin building a habit of releasing the tension of the R sound into clear, open vowels and diphthongs.
First, if you aren’t sure how to make the American English R sound, check out Rachel’s video on this sound. For those of you who are ready to drill, try this:
Start with a nice easy and open AH as in FATHER vowel. Ah, ah. Then, very slowly and smoothly, lift the middle of the tongue up, pull it back a little bit, and push your lip corners out a little and create the R sound: Ahr, ahr. Now, do the same thing, but release right back into that open AH vowel. Ah-rr-ah, ah-rr-ah. See if you can do this without stopping the airflow of the sound. So it’s not ahr, ah, but ah-rr-ah. Keep the sound connected as you slowly move from AH to R and back again. Ah-rr-ah-rr, etc. Nice. You want to be able to create the same open and clear AH vowel after the R sound that you created before the R. One more time: Ah-rr-ah-rr, etc.
Now, you can practice this with any of the vowel and diphthong sounds. Lets do two more together.
The AA as in HAT vowel. Start with a clear open AA vowel, then move into the R sound and then move back and forth between them. Aa-rr-aa-rr-aa. Our goal is to easily release the tongue from the R sound back into that open and clear vowel sound.
How about a more difficult one? The OH diphthong. For this sound, really pay attention to any lip tension that wants to creep in. Don’t let it! Let your lips round easily to create this diphthong sound and then move into the R sound, and then back and forth between them. Oh-rr-oh-rr, etc.
This kind of practice is great for building a more effortless quality into your American English R sound. Don’t try and rush this practice! It should take time. Think about this as if you’re going to the gym. It’s going to take time. But after dedicated and regular practice you will notice that you’re able use the R sound with less effort.
Tom, thank you so much. That was great. If you’re interested in working 1-on-1, I cannot recommend Tom enough. He is a world-class pronunciation coach. And, he still has room in his schedule for a few more students. So, if you’re interested, check out this page.
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.