Monday, March 3, 2008

How to roll your R

Check the post on the new blog!


Jeffrey Hayes said...

I have been studying Spanish for about 8 years now, and there has never been an emphasis on perfecting the Spanish accent in any of my classes. You have provided some great tips for how to roll the "r" in Spanish words. Personally, through studying in Spain and watching "telenovelas" (soap operas) on TV, my Spanish accent flows quite well. I look forward to more Spanish lessons on your blog. Buena suerte!

Rmss said...

There haven't been any emphasis in my Spanish classes either, in college. Thinking of that all of the people in my class should be Spanish teachers in 4 years. It's frightening.

Some people might say it's something you should think of later, but all the essential things must be learned in the very beginning. The accent is a very essential thing.

Ok, I'm going to visit Spain for a lot of months the coming years. But after my last trip I was so demotivated that I didn't have a correct accent (the R issue, hehe) that it actually set me back regarding Spanish.

¡Buena suerte para ti también!

Jeffrey Hayes said...

Do you have any plans as to what part of Spain you want to visit? I just came back from a trip's always so much fun to practice my Spanish with native speakers! I hear myself speak and I wonder "how does this person think I sound?" Personally, I have been to Spain a few times and have experienced the regional accents there, but now I want to travel to somewhere in Latin America to see how the Spanish accent differs there. Any new lessons for your readers? That last one left me in anticipation! Hasta luego :)

Rmss said...

Of course more posts will come, I already have some things I want to share with the readers.

Last time I visited Spain I was with Spanish friends near Alicante. In April I'm going to Málaga for a short intensive course at the university over there. Next year I'm planning a stay for about 4 months in Spain, probably in or near Alicante (I just love that area).

Jeffrey Hayes said...

What a coincidence...I was just in Malaga in January for the first time...I LOVE Malaga, it is such a beautiful city. The beaches, the history, and the city center are all amazing!

Also, did you like Alicante? What is your favorite part about it? I have never been there, but would love to visit some new cities on my next trip to Spain.



Rmss said...

Well, I have a bunch of Spanish friends near Alicante, so I thing the greatest thing about it that I was visiting my friends. Also, the beaches are amazing in the area and the weather is good the whole year.

Learning said...

Or you could try the tongue twister I found -

It worked for Beyonce and it sounds cool after practicing for awhile and you're able to say it fast.

Rmss said...

Well, you can only apply that tongue twister at step 4.

For 99% of the people who can't roll their r's it's still impossible to just roll their tongue when doing that kind of tongue twister.

The reason? Well, most times it's because their tip isn't 'strong' enough, in can't trill like it should. That's why the first 3 steps are there (they're all crucial). Believe me, I've done this myself, and I even done research to it because I was so frustrated. Other methods might work, I'm sure of that. But just trying to say a tongue twister will only work with 1% of the people or less.

ryan b said...

Wow! Thanks so much, rmss! I followed your instructions and I am at the stage of trying to put my new trilled r's into words. I'm going to show this to all of my friends who are learning.

There have been times when I've felt dejected and self-hating (OK--a slight exaggeration, but I really mean slight) over not being able to roll my r's; but I literally jumped for joy when I was able to begin to do it by using your method. Thanks again, and keep posting! I'm going to check much more often for updates now that I've found this site.

Un abrazo, y buena suerte!

Rmss said...

Hehe, thanks :). Well, I know how you felt, I've been there. And I know, it sucks.

Let me know how your r is in a few weeks. By the way; just say Ramses :).

tricXY said...

Hi Ramses,

Is it wrong if i bite my teeth to help with the practising cos I find it easier to get the trill sounds for trr...

Still struggling wif drr...and not sure when can rrr be attained. Anyhow, how long did you practised the first step before you moved on to the second and then the third? Thanks!

Rmss said...

What do you mean with 'biting'? Biting on the tip of your tongue, then pull it back in your mouth to produce the erre? I guess that's correct :).

The whole process took me about 4 weeks, and I struggled with step 4 for several weeks aswell in order to make my erre perfect.

So I guess:
Step 1: about 1 week, trying every day to make a trrr/drrr sound.

Step 2: 2.5 weeks

Step 3: half a week

Step 4: can't recall the length, but it wasn't a short period before I was able to make a perfect rolled r. First it was weird, but later I found speaking with a correct r just fun and now I find it more normal than a throat rolled r :).

Per day I spent about 2 hours of practicing, but I did it during regular things like cleaning and listening to music.

ryanb said...


Hey. I've just about finished with the erre, I think. I did in front of two native speakers in words. I met a Peruvian in Los Angeles last week. When I did it there was a slight hint of incredulity in his eyes--he had to ask me to do it again before he could really believe it, I think. =) (There's a lingering sentiment in the States that if you're white you must not be able to speak (or at least pronounce) Spanish very well, which is partially justified by the manifest laziness of the students or the professors or both in learning/teaching the pronunciation. =[ )

Then I did it in front of my Spanish professor (I go to university in Wisconsin) and she was surprised that I was able to do it too. She had had me try a little 'tongue twister' that kids in Spain evidently do to practice their r's--El perro de San Roque no tiene rabo porque Ramón Ramirez se lo ha cortado.

It seems like I still need to warm up before I can start doing proper r´s by making sounds that are like the trilled r but only stronger. I guess my tongue needs to be warmed up or worked out or something before I can start doing the trilled r´s properly--which are ironically a lot weaker than the r´s I do when I am giving my tongue its workout.

Rmss said...

Thanks great news! :D I'm really happy for you.

But about the warming up; that's normal. Eventually you'll get so used to the sound that you don't need a warming up anymore.

edwin said...

I am starting step 1 (drr /trr) today.

Question: do you voice your drr / trr, or does it really matter?

Rmss said...

Good luck!

Voicing it doesn't really matter, do what works best for you. As long as you're able to make a rolled sound after it.

(drr/trr is step 2, but maybe you can already make one without the loosing up part? ;))

edwin said...

I got my tongue rolling within 2 to 3 days.

They first 2 days was quite frustrating. I was blowing air and after a while, I felt dizzy.

Now I can make the sound without the initial 't' or 'd'. My next step is to try the words starting with 'R'.

Thanks rmss!

Ramses said...

No problem :).

Freddie said...

Hi Ramses,

Just a question on your stage one: with your tongue-twister, do you mean that you repeat "tee dee va" as a phrase i.e. "tee dee va tee dee va" etc or do you repeat each sound separately?

Also, on the learn-any-language forum someone suggests saying "el-lay el-lay el-lay": do you feel (in retrospect) that this is also a good tongue loosener exercise?

As you might guess I am at the ridiculously immobile tongue stage :) and can't really conceive how to make this sound at all... hopefully with your help it will happen as I really need it for Russian.



Ramses said...

Hi Freddy,

First of all: welcome :). I know you're not learning Spanish, but still :).

About the tongue-twister: 'el-lay' seems good too, because you use the tip of your tongue. But with 'tee dee va' you use it a little bit more. Besides, try saying it as a sentence, as fast as possible. It's not for the sounds, it for you tongue moving :).

Hope that helps.

Freddie said...

Hi Ramses,

Thanks for your advice. I will try some manic tongue exercises :)

I was actually in Spain for work last month (Andalucia) and was thinking that Spanish would be a great langauge to learn: so maybe if I ever crack this crazy rrrr sound I will give it a shot. Anyway many of the things you say in your blog in terms of learning styles etc. are applicable to any language so thanks again!


Josh said...

What part of the mouth should the tongue be pressing on when trying to say either tee dee va, el-lay, or Erre con erre cigarro, erre con erre barril, rapido corren los carros? it seems that part of the time the r's are more natural in the back of my tongue or in my throat. I need some advice on how the tongue should be formed and placed to correctly trill or roll a r.

Ramses said...

A throat rolled R is not correct in Spanish, really. The Spanish R is called an alveolar trill, so you press your tongue to the alveolar ridge.

Go to this website:

Click Spanish -> vibrantes -> [r]. Here you can see where to place the tongue.

About the tee-dee-va part: just like you would pronounce it in English, it's only to loosen up your tongue.