Any advice on teaching my kids to roll their Rs? (Also need support with teaching a second language!) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 08-06-2009, 09:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm feeling like a really bad mom, because, even though I desperately want my children to learn Greek, I'm really, really, bad about speaking it with them. I didn't start learning it until I went to Greek school at five (my dad, even though he's Greek, didn't care for me to learn; I don't know why my mom didn't just speak it anyway, but who knows...), so English just comes more naturally to me. I'll tell the kids, "We're only going to speak Greek today!" and then twenty minutes later, I'm speaking English again.

I'm hopefully enrolling DS1 in Greek school next month, and I've been trying to speak more with him, so he's not a total reject when he gets there (yes, unfortunately, from what I remember, Greek kids are very, very mean to outsiders, even from that age; we're not Greek Orthodox, and this will be at a GO church, so we're already going to be treated like lepers by some people ).

Anyway, this is silly, but my biggest concern is that he can't roll his Rs. I've been trying to teach him, show him where he needs to put his tongue, have him look in my mouth, etc, but he just ends up blowing raspberries. When he says the words that have a rolled R in them, it ends up coming out as an L sound.

Any suggestions on how to change that?

Crunchy wife to my high-school sweetheart, mama to DS (10/23/05) , DS (11/22/07) , DD (3/9/10) , and DS (5/26/12),  and three babies in Heaven.
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#2 of 19 Old 08-06-2009, 09:27 PM
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My dd can't roll her R's either. We she tries a Russian R, she ends us just pronouncing an L.

How to teach rolled R's? I know there are ways--even native speakers of rolled R languages sometimes have to "teach" it and some languages have exercises (like tongue twisters) for children to practice.

One thing I know that sometimes helps when teaching English speakers to roll Rs is saying "pot o' tea" as fast as you can over and over again. You could try that.

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I'm hopefully enrolling DS1 in Greek school next month, and I've been trying to speak more with him, so he's not a total reject when he gets there (yes, unfortunately, from what I remember, Greek kids are very, very mean to outsiders, even from that age; we're not Greek Orthodox, and this will be at a GO church, so we're already going to be treated like lepers by some people ).

PhDin' mama to dd (Oct. 2005)
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#3 of 19 Old 08-07-2009, 01:10 PM
 
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If it's a front of the mouth R (as it is in spanish), my friend taught me to do it by having me do a 'machine gun' noise first with the tongue flapping behind the teeth and then add the R sound. This was highschool though, so I think I could already do the machine-gun sound, and it just took having somebody else tell me the trick that helped it click. I don't know...big breath in, tongue touching behind the teeth at the gumline, held loose, forceful exhale from the diaphragm might be a way to start?

With a uvular R (as in German), I think it's harder and still can't do them anywhere close to what a native speaker sounds like. That's more like making a rounded space at the back of the mouth by the throat and forcing air through it, or like clearing your throat.

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#4 of 19 Old 08-07-2009, 06:54 PM
 
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#5 of 19 Old 08-07-2009, 09:35 PM
 
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My first step suggestion would be saying "d" instead. This is actually what's taught in choral singing diction, for instance -- since not everyone call roll their r's, but we all have to sing precisely the same vowels and consonants, we're told to say "d" if you don't know how to roll r's.

It seems a strange idea -- until you try it. It's actually exactly the same little tongue flip. The only difference is when you want to do a LONG rolled r (as opposed to a quick flip, which is actually what is used in many languages most of the time -- the long r is saved for emphasis).

To do the long rolled r, you kind of fight between blowing the tip of the tongue off the alveolar ridge (behind the teeth) with your breath, and keeping the tip up with your tongue muscles. Exhalation vs. muscles trying to keep the tip up. So it blows down, pushes back up, blows down, pushes back up, etc. That's what it feels like to me, anyway.

The "l" sound coming out instead can mean that the tongue is spread too wide, engaging the sides of the mouth -- it needs to be more tightly held in, and the mouth open enough on the inside. It can also mean that it's not the tip of the tongue engaging, but the area just behind the tip.

It can also just be not finding the exact right pressure -- it's a resonance frequency thing. If you don't use enough pressure, it just goes "dssssssssthhhhhh"... too much pressure and you get "TST.... TSTH..." That part just takes practice.

My grandmother was british and she taught us all to roll our r's in the good queen's english when we were very young. I think she had us start with the tips overcurled towards the back, so that when you start exhaling it moves forward into place, already vibrating... rather than starting with the tip already firmly behind the teeth.

I remember those practice sessions with her very fondly. And I credit her entirely for my lovely rolled r's.

Heather, mom to Caileigh 12/06 and aspie ADHD prodigy David 05/98 :intact lact
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#6 of 19 Old 09-18-2009, 07:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, shoot, I totally thought that I had replied to all of your replies. It suddenly hit me that maybe I hadn't. Duh!

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Originally Posted by EVC View Post
My dd can't roll her R's either. We she tries a Russian R, she ends us just pronouncing an L.

How to teach rolled R's? I know there are ways--even native speakers of rolled R languages sometimes have to "teach" it and some languages have exercises (like tongue twisters) for children to practice.

One thing I know that sometimes helps when teaching English speakers to roll Rs is saying "pot o' tea" as fast as you can over and over again. You could try that.



Thanks for your input!

As for all of the , yes, it's really sad, isn't it? I'm actually thinking of driving further to a church with less snobbery (there are lots of non-Greek converts there; if you've ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the Greeks in this area consider that the church where all of the xenos are), but I'm not 100% sure yet. The worst part is that, at the original church we were planning on taking him to, I thought that it didn't start until next week. I just found out that it started last week, so now he's going to be two weeks behind everyone else. :

Are you Russian Orthodox? I always wonder if Russian churches in America are as ethnocentric as the Greek ones. The ridiculous emphasis on Greek culture being more important than anything else (in the GO churches I was raised in) are one of the main reasons that I left the church for a non-denom church.

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Originally Posted by kcparker View Post
If it's a front of the mouth R (as it is in spanish), my friend taught me to do it by having me do a 'machine gun' noise first with the tongue flapping behind the teeth and then add the R sound. This was highschool though, so I think I could already do the machine-gun sound, and it just took having somebody else tell me the trick that helped it click. I don't know...big breath in, tongue touching behind the teeth at the gumline, held loose, forceful exhale from the diaphragm might be a way to start?
I tried doing the machine gun with him, and he just ended up spitting at me. :

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Originally Posted by LoMaH View Post
Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tankgirl73 View Post
My first step suggestion would be saying "d" instead. This is actually what's taught in choral singing diction, for instance -- since not everyone call roll their r's, but we all have to sing precisely the same vowels and consonants, we're told to say "d" if you don't know how to roll r's.

It seems a strange idea -- until you try it. It's actually exactly the same little tongue flip. The only difference is when you want to do a LONG rolled r (as opposed to a quick flip, which is actually what is used in many languages most of the time -- the long r is saved for emphasis).

To do the long rolled r, you kind of fight between blowing the tip of the tongue off the alveolar ridge (behind the teeth) with your breath, and keeping the tip up with your tongue muscles. Exhalation vs. muscles trying to keep the tip up. So it blows down, pushes back up, blows down, pushes back up, etc. That's what it feels like to me, anyway.

The "l" sound coming out instead can mean that the tongue is spread too wide, engaging the sides of the mouth -- it needs to be more tightly held in, and the mouth open enough on the inside. It can also mean that it's not the tip of the tongue engaging, but the area just behind the tip.

It can also just be not finding the exact right pressure -- it's a resonance frequency thing. If you don't use enough pressure, it just goes "dssssssssthhhhhh"... too much pressure and you get "TST.... TSTH..." That part just takes practice.

My grandmother was british and she taught us all to roll our r's in the good queen's english when we were very young. I think she had us start with the tips overcurled towards the back, so that when you start exhaling it moves forward into place, already vibrating... rather than starting with the tip already firmly behind the teeth.

I remember those practice sessions with her very fondly. And I credit her entirely for my lovely rolled r's.
Thank you so much for this! I actually just noticed a few days ago that he is doing the d sound now, so I think that we're headed the right direction!

Crunchy wife to my high-school sweetheart, mama to DS (10/23/05) , DS (11/22/07) , DD (3/9/10) , and DS (5/26/12),  and three babies in Heaven.
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#7 of 19 Old 09-19-2009, 10:10 AM
 
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just a suggestion .... how does a lion roars in english ? (I mean how do you imitate a lion like the one before the MGM movies ....)

because as a french speaker it seems to me that our rolled "r" is just a more subtle version of that process (the uvula vibrating against the top of the bottom part of the tongue, far back in the mouth)

that said, last year I was not able to help my son and relied on the speech therapist to help him and that was the very last item he needed to work on for his pronunciation .... after 3 years in the State he had totally stopped speaking french at the end of the first year when he finally accepted to speak english. So on our return it took him quite a few months to start speaking french again and he also had to re-learn how to roll his "r" ....

Nowadays, when he has to learn a text by heart to recite at school, I make sure I model it VERY exagerated (not like I speak in real life !) so that he repeats it at least as something that may pass as a rolled "r" .... if I don't, he falls back to saying it more like a "r" as when he speaks american english ...
my point is that in order for your son to use that sound in normal conversation, you might have to practice producing that sound in a rather exagerated way at first ....
hope this helps ....
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#8 of 19 Old 09-20-2009, 12:46 AM
 
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i'm spanish speaking, there are a lot of rolled rs in my language, but i never learnt how to roll them...maybe some tongues are built differently?
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#9 of 19 Old 09-20-2009, 03:06 AM
 
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My nieces and nephews, whose native language(s) required rolled rs, usually pronounced "r" as w or l until they were school age. R is a hard letter in most languages!

Just keep rolling your rs and your child will get it.

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#10 of 19 Old 11-28-2009, 10:26 PM
 
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I just wanted to say (I'm American / Caucasian) my mom taught me to roll my R's when I was 5 or 6. She picked it up when she was learning spanish in high school. So it's never too late for your little one to learn. Just keep at it and as Stephen King said "everything's eventual". Like I said I learned at 5 or 6 and actually had an easier time learning at a later age cause I was thought it was cool to be able to do it, lol.
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#11 of 19 Old 11-29-2009, 05:39 AM
 
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i can't roll my Rs to save my life, despite speaking a few languages that require it.

DS is being raised bi-lingually and we've ended up taking him to a speech therapist (recommended by the school) to help him rolling his Rs, because he wasn't doing it either. The speech therapist said that after a few sessions he should be on track.
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#12 of 19 Old 12-01-2009, 06:17 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DariusMom View Post
i can't roll my Rs to save my life, despite speaking a few languages that require it.
Ditto that here too. Can't roll my R's despite 9 semesters of Spanish. I also have a hard time with the "fr" sound too. I tend to stretch the "r" sound in rolled r's rather than actually rolling them.
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#13 of 19 Old 12-02-2009, 11:59 AM
 
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ug, my dh is working with the almost 3 and almost 5 year old on this right now. Hebrew uses a flipped "r" and also a rolled "r". I can barely do either.

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#14 of 19 Old 12-02-2009, 12:02 PM
 
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ps. the "d" advice and the "dr" as in "dracula" advice on the wiki page were VERY helpful. I was rolling my r's almost immediately in the word "dracula". Now just to practice it with out the "d" in front of it.

I'll try it with the kids and let you know how it pans out.

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#15 of 19 Old 12-02-2009, 07:37 PM
 
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LoL I was just reading this and I called my two year old over and vibrated the tip of my tongue machine-gun style and said "rrrr". He vibrated the spit in his throat and growled at me "rawr". And it vibrated and combined it sounded very similar to the sound I was making.
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#16 of 19 Old 12-04-2009, 05:58 AM
 
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We're a bilingual family English/Czech. Czech not only has a rolled "r" but another type of rolled "r" specific only to the language that a lot of native speakers struggle with.

DS is 4.5 and he can't roll his "r"s, say "l" properly, can't say "th" properly, can't say "sh" properly. Some kids just learn the harder sounds later.

You've been given some great advice and links and all, I just want to offer a different perspective, because some native speakers of the language never manage to learn some of the harder sounds. I've met many Czechs who couldn't roll their "r"s. Famously, our former president couldn't either.

My DH had to do speach therapy until he was almost a teenager and the speech therapist finally told him that he should have been born a German and he happily is not rolling his "r"s even today and probably never will. Some people just physically can't do it and it's not a big deal if they can otherwise speak the language correctly.
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#17 of 19 Old 12-04-2009, 03:46 PM
 
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Rolled R can be a speech impediment. In fact, Lenin couldn't roll his Rs in Russian. Or it could be their age.

I don't know the ages of the children, but as a former linguist, I'd suggest looking up something called the "Critical Period Theory". It's possible that you've waited too long to introduce the language.

Good luck!
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#18 of 19 Old 12-12-2009, 02:02 PM
 
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Not sure about the Greek "r", but my English speaking 5 year old can't even do an English "r" properly yet (still a bit of the "w" in it).

What I noticed with DD and languages is that when we visited Germany recently, for the first week or so, she pronounced all her letter sounds as an English speaker, even in German words, even when she was exposed to them only by German speakers, after a couple weeks I noticed that the sounds were more correctly German in the German words (not "r" specifically but vowels, etc).
So really I think it isn't so much that it need to be taught as modelled, if they are surrounded by it for a while it will work it's way into their brains.

No chance of a Greek vacation anytime soon?

nothing more to say I guess :
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#19 of 19 Old 05-24-2011, 08:45 PM
 
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oh, it is so good to know that you exist.

 

it's a condition called ankylglossia, tongue-tied.

 

i know you posted this many years ago, but i am wondering what do you do instead of rolling your r's?

 

do your spanish-speaking peers understand you?

 

have you considered the surgery?

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