One of the most distinct sounds of the Spanish language is the rolled “rr”. Only Spanish, Albanian, Cypriot Greek, some Portuguese dialects and some Armenian dialects have this sound, which is why most learners find it especially hard. We’ve compiled a few tips so that you can improve your rolled “rr”s and we hope that you will soon be rolling with us!
First: Understand the Rolled “rr”
The “rr” is known as an “alveolar trill”. To make that sound, you should relax your tongue and exercise the same place you use to pronounce the T, D, S, Z, N, and L sounds. Being a “trill” means that is a repeated sound that you can make in the back of your throat, as if you were imitating a motorcycle.
Step 1: Relax Your Tongue
Before starting your practice, relax your tongue. When your tongue is not relaxed, you’re not able to vibrate and make the trill. If you have a hard time doing this, try saying “tee dee va” repeatedly until your tongue is completely loose
Step 2: Train Your Tongue
Pay attention to how you say your Ts and Ds. You can also train your tongue by saying “butter”, “ladder”, “putter-up” and “put away”. The position you use to say these words is the same one you’ll use for the Spanish words with two rrs.
Step 3:Listen to Natives Carefully
Listening to natives carefully is one the things you need to do to learn how to roll your rrs. Everytime you hear the words “carro” (car), “perro” (dog), “rico” (rich or tasty), “arroz” (rice), “guitarra” (guitar), “borrar” (erase), “ahorrar” (save), “Ferrol” or “Fuencarral” try to repeat what you heard. If possible try to record yourself to judge your own pronunciation.
Step 4: Tongue-Twisters
You think you’ve mastered your rolled rrs already? Try a tongue-twister! El perro de san Roque no tiene rabo, porque Ramón Ramirez se lo ha robado. Too easy for you? Try this one: Erre con erre cigarro, erre con erre barril. Rápido corren los carros, detrás del ferrocarril.
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