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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: How to pronounce the ‘R’ sound in English: Tips & Practice

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My name is Emma, and in today's video I am going to help you with your pronunciation

of a sound in English that's very difficult-okay?-and that sound is the "r" sound or the "rur" sound.

This sound is very challenging.


When I was a child, I could not say this sound.

So, when I wanted to say words like: "rabbit", I used to say it like a "w", like: "wabbit".

So, for people who speak English, this sound can be very difficult when they're children

and growing up; but also for people from other countries learning English, this sound can

be very challenging.


So I'm going to give you some tips on how to pronounce... sorry.

How to pronounce a sound and things you can do to help so you can get better with some


So, let's get started.

My first tip for learning how to make this sound is being able to hear it when people


So, a lot of the times people from other countries, their ear isn't trained for English.

So, for example, they might hear: "light" and "right" as the same thing; when, in fact,

here I'm making an "l" sound, so: "light"; and here, I'm making the "r" sound: "right".

So, for some people they hear it as the same; when in English, they're actually different


I know some Brazilian students sometimes have a little bit of difficulty because in... in

their language, the "r" sound sounds more like an English "h".


So sometimes I hear Brazilian students, when they want to say: "red", they say: "head".


Whereas sometimes with some Asian students, you might hear "right" and "light" sound the

same way.

Another mistake we often hear in English is people might say: "rail" and "whale" the same.

This was the mistake I used to have trouble with when I was a kid, and I couldn't hear

the difference, but there is a difference.

And then we also have: "pilot" versus "pirate"; and "honey" versus "runny".


So, what we are going to do is first off the question to ask yourself is: Can I hear the

difference between an "r" sound and another sound?

This is the first area you should be practicing if you have trouble with your "r" pronunciation.

So, I'm going to say an "r" sound, and then I'm going to say one of these words, and I

want you to choose which word I said.


So, did I say the same word or did I say a different word?

So let's get started.

The first word is: "right".


And I'm going to cover my mouth because sometimes if you look at my mouth, you can notice some


So, the first word: "right" and "light".

So, which one did I say?

If you said: "light", you're correct.

I said: "right" and "light".

All right, let's try another one.

The next sound is: "red".

So listen carefully to what I'm saying: "red" and "red".

Did those sound the same?

Those are the same sound, so I said: "red" and "red".

All right, so let's try another one.

So, this word is "rail", so: "rail" and "whale".

Did you hear the difference?

I said this one: "rail" and "whale".

Okay, let's try over here.

So, the word is "pirate", so: "pirate" and "pilot".

Did they sound the same to you or different?

I said: "pirate" and "pilot".


And now let's try the last one.

So, this is "runny", so: "runny" and "runny".

Were those the same or different?

So, they were the same; I said: "runny" and "runny".


So, it's good to listen to as many different "r" sounds as possible and really try to hear

the "r" sound, because sometimes if you speak a different language you might not hear it.

The next thing you can do is you can actually listen to "r" words in sentences, because

this makes it a little bit harder.


So, once you're able to hear the difference here, you can actually try to listen to the

difference in sentences.


So I'm going to use these words in these two sentences, and I want you to pick which word

I'm using.

Am I using these words or am I using the "r" words?


And... sorry, I should have said this earlier: The difference in "r" is actually in the middle

of the word, here; whereas in all the other ones the "r" starts the word.

So, let's get started.

"Do you have __________...?"

So: "Do you have the __________ suitcase?"

Which one did I say?

Okay, I said: "light".

Let's try with... how it would sound with this one:

"Do you have the __________ suitcase?"

In this case, I used this one.

"Where is the __________?"

Which one did I say?

"Where is the red?"

So I said this one.

"Where is the __________?"

Did you hear this one?

Because that's what I said.

"Where is the whale?", "Where is the rail?"


"Where is the __________?"

Which one did I say?

I said: "pilot".


So I pronounced the "l"; not the "r".

"Where is the pilot?", "Where is the pirate?"

So try to really hear the difference.

And, finally: "Where is the __________?"

So which one did I say?

So, I said: "runny".

That last sentence did not make any sense, but that's okay because we're focusing on

pronunciation; not meaning.

So: "Where is the honey?", "Where is the runny?"


So, the very first step when you're learning pronunciation, a very good step to take is:

Can you hear the difference?

Once you can hear the difference, or, you know... keep practicing this; we're going

to do the next step which is practicing how to say the sound.

So, that's coming up next.

Okay, so you may have to practice listening to the "r" a lot, but once you're ready to

practice making the sound, the first thing that's very important to know is that there

are different ways to make the "r" sound in English.


So, if you're having a lot of trouble; maybe you've been taking classes before and you

just can't get that sound - it might be an idea to find a different way to pronounce

"r", because there's more than one way.

So, let me tell you a little bit about the different ways.

The first way to make the "r" sound or the "er" sound is we call "the bunched 'r'".

And what we do is these are your teeth, this is your tongue, and when you make the sound,

your tongue moves backward.


So it kind of goes up at the back, and we call that the "bunched 'r' sound".

Now, for me, that actually is a harder way to make an "r".

The way I like to make the "r" is what we call the "retroflex way".

In this way, you have your... this is the bottom of your mouth, this is your tongue,

and your tongue moves up, but it doesn't touch the roof of your mouth.


There's a little bit of space; but the main thing is when you make the "er" sound, your

tongue moves upward - the front of your tongue.

So some people find this way easier; other people might find the bunched "r" easier.

In this video, we're going to talk mainly about the retroflex "r", because that's the

one that I do.


But if you're interested in the bunched "r", it's a really good idea to look for resources

about that, because it can also help.

So, in terms of the different "r" sounds, the other thing I wanted to say is our "r"

sound changes if we're saying it after a vowel.

So, we use these two before a vowel.

So, for example, if I said the word: "rabbit" or if I said the word: "run", we have the

"r" first and then we have a vowel sound.

So, we use these two for that.

Sometimes in English we have a vowel, like the "o" sound or the "a" sound, and then the


So, for example: "or", "er", "ar".

We make these "r" sounds a little bit different as well.

So, in this video I'm focusing specifically on the retroflex sound.

So, what we're going to do is we're going to practice some "r" words using "r" at the

beginning of the word, because these are usually the easier ones to start with.


For some people, these sounds are easier, but I find in general starting with "r" at

the beginning of the word is the easier way to go.

So, what you can do is when you're learning a new sound, it's a good idea to practice

your pronunciation slowly.


So you say the sound very slow, and you stretch it out.


So, if I was saying: "ra", I'd say: "rraaaa".

And what I can do is after I'm saying it slow, I can get a mirror and I can actually look

at what I'm doing when I'm making the sound, and I can really think: "Okay.

What are my teeth doing?

What are my lips doing?

What is my tongue doing?"

And by looking, using a mirror and thinking about these things, it can really help you

make the sound properly.

I also like to start using just the "r" and a vowel first, because I think that's easiest,

so saying: "ra" or "ro", or "re".


And just pairing the "r" with a vowel can help.

You know, instead of saying a really hard word, like, you know: "ridiculous", which

is very long, it's actually easier to start your pronunciation with a small part of a


So, just using the "r" with a vowel is a good idea.

The other thing you can do is sometimes using another sound can help you find where your

tongue should be.

So, for the retroflex, if you make a "d" sound, so say "da", "da", your tongue actually goes

up, kind of like the "r" does.


The main difference is that your tongue, when you make a "da" sound is... the top of your

tongue is touching the roof of your mouth.

For an "r" sound, your tongue should go up like a "d", but it does not touch.


So you can start with: "da"; now say: "ra".


So your tongue is in the same area.

One of the major differences is your tongue's not touching.

But using another sound, like a "d", can help you find where your tongue should be when

you make the "r" sound.

Okay, some other tips is when you make an "r" sound it's good to keep your teeth together.


It's good to... like I said before, for the retroflex, you want your tongue to move up,

but you don't want to touch the bump at the roof of your mouth.


So like I said before, do not touch the top of your mouth when you make an "r" sound.

All right.

So now let's practice making some "r" sounds together.

Okay, so before we start practicing, I just wanted to say a couple of things.

First of all, it takes a lot of time and practice to get good at pronunciation.


So if you just do this a couple of times and you're having a lot of difficulty with it

- that's okay; pronunciation takes time and practice.


The second thing I wanted to say is that it's really good to have somebody who speaks English

listen to you practice, if that's possible, because you don't want to make mistakes and

practice them again, and again, and again because then it's going to be harder to learn

how to do it the right way.

So it's good to have somebody listen and tell you: "Yes, that was a good 'r' sound", or

"No, you... that sounded like a 'w'."


And two different types of professionals can do this.

There's somebody called a "speech pathologist" who can help you with your accent reduction

or pronunciation of sounds like "r", or an English teacher can also help you do this.


So you can check around; and if you don't have access to either of these, if you know

somebody who speaks English, maybe they can help you as well.


So, the main thing is: You need to practice this a lot and it's good to have somebody

listen to make sure you're doing it correctly.

If there's nobody and you still really want to practice, you can also try to maybe listen

to yourself by tape recording yourself doing these sounds; although, again, if you can't

hear the difference it might be hard to notice the difference when you say the sounds.


So those are just some options.

Okay, so the first thing I want to do is I told you one way to get this "r" sound is

by making a "d" sound because they're in a similar area of your mouth when we make the


So, I want you to say: "dee", "dee".


And feel where your tongue is when you say that.


Now I want you to say: "dee, ree.

Dee, ree".


So this is saying: "dee" and "ree"; the "d" sound and the "r" sound.



Now what I want you to say is: "deed".


Feel where your tongue is at with that.


And now let's try an "r" word: "reed", "reed".

And, again, going slow is really good when you're first learning how to pronounce a sound.

And if this is too hard, just try to make the "ree" sound without the ending.

"Ree", "reed", "reed".


Now I want you to practice this five times.

Let's try to say "reed" five times: "reed", "reed", "reed", "reed", "reed".



Now let's try another word.

So, I have here the word: "ray", so let's say this word first.

"Ray", "ray".


Now, if you're having trouble, maybe start by saying the word: "day", "day, ray", "day,


Now let's just try to say this one five times.

"Ray", "ray", "ray", "ray"-and you're noticing I'm doing it really slow-"ray".

And now I can also speed it up.

If I'm pronouncing it correctly, I can say: "ray".

Okay, so now we have the word: "read".


We have: "dead" and "read".

So I want you to try to say this word five times: "read", "read", "read", "read", "read".

And, again, it's great to do this while looking in a mirror to make sure that your tongue

is actually moving upward.


Okay, now let's do the last word for today.

We have: "done", if you're trying to find out where your tongue should be: "done", "run",

"run", "run", "run".

And one more time: "run".


So I hope that helps figuring out where your tongue should be.

This is just one trick; there's a lot of different ways to find out where your tongue should

be when pronouncing the "r".

Use what works for you, and remember to use a mirror.

So, once you're able to say "r" words, the next step is to try to say it in a sentence.


So you can say the word first: "read"; and once you get good at saying this word, then

you can try it in a short sentence: "I read."

And then you can make it a little longer: "I read it."

And then you can make it even harder to say: "I reread it", and so on.

And so you can make it longer and longer and longer as you get better and better at your

pronunciation of "r".

So, again, these are just some tips to help you in your pronunciation of "r", and it takes


Practice makes perfect, and also finding somebody who can listen to make sure you're saying

it right is very helpful.

So, thank you for watching this video.

I hope you have learned a lot about "r" pronunciation.

And if you want to practice what you've learned, you can come visit our website at

There, you can do a quiz to practice some of the ideas we came up with today and some

of the things we've talked about.

You can also subscribe to my channel; I have a lot of other pronunciation resources there,

as well as resources on vocabulary, writing, reading, essays - just so many different topics,

so I invite you to come check that out.

Until next time, take care.

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