Those Pesky /r/s....the Sequel

Every now and then, I like to go back through old posts and see if I've evolved with my therapy. I ran across the post Those Pesky /r/s which I wrote back in 2013.

What's the Same

I'm still
1. snagging the students when they are 7 years old
2. using Char Boshart's technique of using the Nuk brush & toothette for stimulation.
3. using straws to strengthen the back of the tongue.
4. using /i/ as a starter
If a student isn't getting a correct or approximation with /i/, I'll use the "karla technique". 

What's New

 Along with the "karla technique", the students learn a new term: anchoring. It's really just having the tongue at rest, which is essential for a good vocalic /r/. Think about it. Go ahead and try it: say some words with vocalic /r/s and think about where your tongue starts out. It's essential that students understand about anchoring their tongues to get a good vocalic /r/. 
I start with a vocalic /r/ when teaching production of /r/  because, in my opinion, it's much easier to have the student make a prevocalic /r/ from a vocalic /r/, not the other way around. I can name which of my students who transferred to me worked on prevocalic /r/ to make the /r/ sound: they have trouble with the vocalic /r/. With those students, I begin by teaching them to anchor their tongues. It takes quite a bit of concentration on their part and a lot of practice. I'm not going to's difficult for them to get. It's frustrating, but once they understand how much better those vocalic /r/s will sound, they'll get it. And they will be beautiful!

The main thing when you're working on /r/s is not to panic. Relax and the student will be relaxed. When I have started from ground zero with a student, I haven't had one that didn't eventually get it. Lately, it seems that my students struggled in isolation, but when we got to the word level they quickly got it and carried the /r/ over into conversation. It's not hard and it's not rocket science. It just takes a good ear and patience.

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