One of the questions I often hear is, “how do I make my tongue roll when pronouncing words with an R in Spanish?” I would love to say that after reading this post, your tongue will magically whip into shape, and you will be able pronounce all of your words like a native Spanish speaker. Unfortunately, the reality is, you are gonna have to work at it! Pronunciation is super important when speaking any new language. That being said, the tips I will give you in this post, may be able to help you learn how to “rrrrrool” your R’s in Spanish!
Here are a few exercises that can help you loosen up your tongue:
1. Find a mirror to practice in front of
Believe it or not, it actually helps to see what your tongue is doing when you are trying to make a “double R” sound in spanish. Using a mirror, try saying the word “perro” (which means dog). Don’t try to roll your tongue, instead simply look at it. This may make you feel silly, but it is a very effective technique.
2. Make your tongue look different
After you have seen what your tongue naturally looks like when trying to say the word “perro”, try saying it again, and this time focus on making your tongue look different when saying it. We are still not going to pay any attention to how it sounds, simply the way your tongue looks.
3. Make your tongue sound different
Now that your tongue has broken out of the mold of what it’s used to, you are ready to make it produce a new sound! First, take a deep breath and hold it for about 5 seconds, then let it out. Now do the exact same thing, this time touching the roof of your mouth with your tongue. After you have done that a few times, try loosening your tongue a bit, and letting it flap around in your mouth. This should sound something like trying to start an old push-mower.
4. Adding a vowel sound into the mix
After you have practiced all of the steps from exercise 3, try introducing a vowel sound to the mix. Let’s use the letter “O”. Take the last step we discussed in exercise 3, and add an “O” sound to it. This may require you to exhale a little more forcefully than you normally would.
Now, as I said earlier on in this post, there is no magic involved here. It is gonna take quite a bit of effort on your part to make your tongue roll. I hoped these exercises help, and remember, like anything else, practice makes perfect!
– David Castrillon