One of the most popular sounds in speech therapy is the /r/ sound. Many of the children that we work with have difficulty producing this sound correctly, and it is one of the hardest sounds to teach! In this post, I want to share some "tricks" I use to teach this sound:
1. Make sure the child is developmentally capable of producing the sound. I usually do not work on the /r/ sound with children younger than 5 years of age.
2. Usually, children substitute the /r/ with a /w/. We want to make sure the child can differentiate between those sounds. To do so, I use minimal pairs (pairs of words that differ in only one phoneme) like these ones:
I present one minimal pair (i.e. wok/rock) by labeling the two words. Then I say one word and I ask the child to point to it. I usually target each pair 3 times.
3. Once the child can perceive the difference between the /r/ and the /w/, we move into production. HERE IS MY TRICK to teach the /r/ sound. First I model the steps, and then I ask the child to follow them:
1. Make the /l/ sound
2. Move your tongue back, following your palate (the roof of your mouth)
3. Round your lips, like an "o"
I usually ask the child to hold a mirror while completing the exercise. I start by modeling the sound in isolation, and then initial /r/ in single words. I make sure to start with words that have a rounded sound after the /r/ like rock, rose, robot, etc. Then I move on to final /r/ in single words, and the medial /r/ in single words. Once the child can say the sound in all positions in single words (independently), I move into phrases, sentences, and then to conversational speech.
I hope these "tricks" work for you! They have done magic for most of my patients!
If you liked what you read, join us in our Facebook group: Resources for bilingual children with speech delays, where we will be sharing activities and materials to promote speech and language development.
*Parents: please note that these techniques were not share with the intention to substitute speech therapy. If your child has difficulty producing speech sounds, please refer to a speech therapist in your area for help.
Yael Herszkopf Mayer MS, CCC-SLP is a pediatric, bilingual (English/Spanish) Speech and Language Pathologist and the creator of Learning with Yaya. She received her Masters of Science degree in Speech and Language Pathology- Bilingual Extension from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Clinical Psychology from Universidad de Iberoamérica in Costa Rica.