Do you want to know how to roll your r’s in Spanish? Try these practice exercises and you’ll be trilling your tongue perrfectly in no time!
One of the most common requests that I get, or one of the things that I hear that most non-native Spanish speakers have trouble with is how to pronounce the double R.
So we’re going to go right at that today and I’m going to breakdown for you step by step how to pronounce it.
Once you’ve got that down, I’m going to give you some pronunciation drills for you to practice that you can get it right Usually it takes a little bit of practice to be able to say the trilled R sound on demand.
So, I’m going to give you some exercises that you can do to help you say: “Erre”
1) The R in Spanish is NOT the same letter sound as English
The first thing you need to realize to be able to get down the correct pronunciation of the R in Spanish is that it’s not the same letter as it is in English.
Notice the position of the mouth is completely different. So drill into your head is that [r] in English and [erre] in Spanish are two different letters.
2) Get your tongue in the appropriate position to be able to say [erre]
I want you to simply say the word “dog” in English and repeat it a few times.
Now, I want you to pay attention to where your tongue is when you say “dog.” You should feel a little bit of a ridge on the top of your mouth. Notice where your tongue is.
That’s all you’re doing for step 2.
3) Say the sound [d]
OK, now for Step 3.
Now that we’ve identified the appropriate tongue position we’re going to say the letter [d] in Spanish.
It sounds kind of like “deh” with a short [e] sound. So, you’re just going to say: [deh], [deh], [deh].
Now, again, make sure you keep your tongue in that same position as it is when you say “dog.” Notice how your tongue feels on the roof of your mouth when you say this. Also, try to keep your mouth open wide (like you’re smiling) as you make the [d] sound.
4) Repeat “e” and “d” sounds together
Now, for Step 4 you’re going to add a little sound before [deh], it’s simply going to be [eh]. This is the Spanish letter E which is a short [e], sound.
So, you’re going to say it: “[eh], [deh]”, “[eh], [deh]”, “[eh], [deh]”
Thenk you’re going to say “[e], [deh]” as fast as you can. So, it might feel a little bit silly, but I want you to just say it over and over again and try to make the sound faster and shorter and closer together each time.
5) Say erre
Now, once you have that down I want you to try to say “[eh][reh]”
You’ve got your tongue in the correct position, you’ve got the sound correct, so, now you just need to try to say the R sound but while you keep your tongue in that same [d] position.
6) Breathe in
Now, the last step is going to be getting a little bit of air in your mouth. This may sound counter-intuitive, but in order to make the long-trilled r sound you have to really get some air into your lungs.
So, when you’re saying “[eh][deh]” I want you to pretend someone startled you, but instead of that “uh” sound I want you to go “eh”, as you’re breathing in.
You’re going to feel silly. You might feel like you’re in a Lamaze class practicing breathing.
But, I just want you to get that “eh” to get that breath in. Try saying [eh][deh] and then [eh][reh], adding that little breath to the [eh] sound.
Practice Drills for Saying the Trilled R Sound in Spanish
In order to perfect your pronunciation of “R”, there are a couple of things that you can do.
I want you to practice pronouncing the letter R with all of the Spanish vowel sounds:
Ra, re, ri, ro, ru,
Practice doing that over and over again, so that you can practice the letter R in combination with different vowels.
Now, if you kind of lose the roll of the tongue or you get a little bit tripped up and try that drill go back to the D sound and try the same thing. So, you’re going to go: da, de, di, do, du. Remember to keep the sounds as short as possible.
Then, try eda, ede, edi, edo, edu.
And then finally, that should help you get built up to same: ra, re, ri, ro, ru.
So, that’s a simple drill that you can do to practice the letter RR.
Do you want to master your Spanish pronunciation? Check out the Spanish Pronunciation Mastery Course and ditch your gringo accent for good.
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¡Hola! My name is Tamara Marie. I’m a language coach specializing in brain-friendly methods to learn foreign languages faster. I speak English (US native), Spanish (advanced), and Brazilian Portuguese (beginner). I’m a Latin music & dance addict and passionate about helping people learn languages.