The Power of R

With back to school days just around the corner, what better time than now to think about one of the most powerful sounds in our English language?
The R sound, though difficult to say, is a frequently occurring sound that has several variations. You can say /r/ as in “rose” or /er/ as in “flower” or
/r/ in a blend as in “pretty”. But if you or your child have difficulty pronouncing this sound, you are not alone! This is one of the last sounds that children typically acquire as they are developing and fine-tuning their speech skills and some kids never get it just right. They drop the /r/ or substitute an open vowel sound, so it sometimes sounds as if they have a regional or foreign accent. The mispronunciation of /r/ is common and is an error that can follow a child on into adulthood.
Why is /r/ so hard to say? After all, it’s been around in our language for over 5,000 years now and one would think that such a difficult sound would either have disappeared from the lexicon or become second nature to everyone. The answer is that pronouncing the /r/ involves a slight trick of the tongue. In order to say /er/, the tongue has to tense, elevate and pull back – easier said than done! It involves lots of practice to get the /r/ sound just right. If you or your child has difficulty with the all powerful R, then a course of speech therapy may help improve your pronunciation of /r/. Back to school time is a great time to begin improving your speech.