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Q: Learning Spanish - Rolling an R ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   6 Comments )
Subject: Learning Spanish - Rolling an R
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: aussiejoe-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 25 May 2004 00:03 PDT
Expires: 24 Jun 2004 00:03 PDT
Question ID: 351525
I am a native English speaker learning Spanish.  I am looking for
detailed instructions on how to roll an "R" sound in Spanish.

I have found a few written descriptions on the web.

Ideally, I am looking for clear written and diagrams (where to place
the tongue, etc) descriptions that have been shown to work - ideally
by some form of confirmed written testimony.

Also, I would appreciate exercises that may help develop the capacity
to roll a Spanish R.

This problem has been putting me off learning further Spanish, so help
with it would be greatly appreciated.

I think this problem would be worth US$10 to US$15 dollars, if a
decent amount of confidence existed that the suggested approach would
yield success.  What do people think, let me know.

Subject: Re: Learning Spanish - Rolling an R
Answered By: livioflores-ga on 25 May 2004 11:20 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars

As a native Spanish speaker I can suggest you to start imitating the
growl of a hostile dog:

During this act take note on the position of the tongue and how the
sound is emitted.

Remember that in Spanish language we have two "different" sounds for the R:
gorra, rojo, rápido
arado, trueno, erario.

These two sounds are not so different, and the second one is basically
the same as the first one, but expressed quickly and very shorter.

Note that the workhard_playharder's comment is a very nice advice,
take account on it!!!

I found several documents in the web that can help you in this task:
"r Pronunciation: 
As opposed to the English r, which is formed in the back of the mouth
with the back of the tongue, the Spanish r is formed using the tip of
the tongue on the upper palatte, behind the front teeth, more like the
English d."
From "Web Spanish Lessons - Lesson 1" by Tyler Jones and Jennifer Chambers:

"rr Pronunciation: 
In Lesson 1 you learned how to pronounce the Spanish r. The Spanish rr
is pronounced differently than the single r - it is made by rolling
the r on the upper palate, to produce a quick series of the Spanish r
sounds. If a single r occurs at the beginning of a word (as in rojo),
it is pronounced as a double-r (rr). Otherwise, only the rr is
pronounced this way, as in marrón. If you are old enough, you might
remember the "R-r-r-r-ruffles have r-r-r-r-r-ridges" commercials -
this is the sound you are trying to make. It takes practice to do it
From "Web Spanish Lessons - Lesson 2" by Tyler Jones and Jennifer Chambers:

Another good source is:
"Pronouncing the Spanish R" from site:
Read it, it has nice advices.

But in the following pages you will find the best sources. The
homepage of the website is "Phonetics: The Sounds of English and
Spanish - THe University of Iowa":
"This site contains animated libraries of the phonetic sounds of
Spanish and English. Available for each consonant and vowel is an
animated articulatory diagram, a step-by-step description, and
video-audio of the sound spoken in context."
Take note that the Flash and Quicktime plugins are needed, at the
bottom of the page you will find info related to this and you will see
if you have them installed or not.

To read about how this page can help you go to its "About" page:

The link to the required page for R pronunciation diagrams and sound samples is:
"Spanish sounds library":
In this page to find the r and rr pronunciations select MODO first and
in the row that will appear below select VIBRANTES, the two sounds
will be available now. Press the Play buttons

The following "Articulatory Anatomy" page will be useful to you to
work with the instructions on Rolling r:

Additional sources and helpful samples can be found after the following links:
"pronunciation - rr y r":

"Basic Spanish Words with Pronunciation":

"CCSF Language Center Spanish Links", from City College of San
Francisco Language Center:

"Sample Pronunciation" from Web Spanish Tutor:

"Spanish Resources":

Search strategy:
rolling "r" spanish
spanish pronunciation
spanish pronunciation "r"
spanish pronunciation exercises

I hope this helps you. Feel free to request for any clarification
needed before rate this answer, I will gladly respond all your

Best regards.
aussiejoe-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Tks for your answer.  I became a little busy soon after you posted
your answer and didn't check out the resources until quite recently.

The resources suggested are excellent.  Thank you.  I am very glad to
have used Google answerz, I consider this response decent value for
money.  :).

Unfortunately for me, and no reflection upon the resources you have
suggested, it seems that I need to employ a "real in the flesh"
teacher for this aspect.  I'll investigate an arrangement that
focusses on technique, pronunciation, etc - all the valueable aspects
of tuition.  I'll continue to do the basic education on my own.  This
answer was good enough to help me get to the conclusion.


Subject: Re: Learning Spanish - Rolling an R
From: probonopublico-ga on 25 May 2004 00:32 PDT
The best way to learn a foreign language is one-to-one with a native speaker.

I discovered this the hard way when I lived in the Netherlands and
tried to learn Dutch from a Linguaphone course that I played 2 hours a
day in the car to and from work.


But then I hired a language teacher and he soon got me flying.

There must be some Spanish folk in your neck of the woods who would
love to teach you, and to practise their own skills.
Subject: Re: Learning Spanish - Rolling an R
From: aussiejoe-ga on 25 May 2004 01:36 PDT
Thank you ProBonoPublico, for your comment.

I agree & understand, the best way would be to learn from a native
speaker.  I will try to find one.  Of course, many difficulties arise
from scheduling such meetings, especially when it involves those of us
who like to convince ourselves that we are too busy for reliable
routines - very sad!

I have Pimsluer course that I am very happy with, and I understand
from person I was learning with that my pronounciation was quite good
- on all matters other than the rolling of a Spanish R...    :)

Again, your comment is very much appreciated, it is motivation to go
and further an aspect - discussion with a native speaker - that would
benefit me.
Subject: Re: Learning Spanish - Rolling an R
From: probonopublico-ga on 25 May 2004 01:49 PDT
Hi, Again, Joe

I used to think that I was pretty good at French (well, I was at
school) until my self-belief was shattered when I was told that I had
an 'atrocious accent'.

A friend of mine also had similar delusions and he used to chatter
away very confidently but I could never understand a word.

I then asked a French person what he had said and I was told that
NOBODY could understand him.

Hasta La Vista

(I also did Spanish at school).
Subject: Re: Learning Spanish - Rolling an R
From: aussiejoe-ga on 25 May 2004 02:47 PDT

I can easily see myself in a similar situation - and I will be
shattered when the times comes, make no mistake.

I guess my learning will need to be *highly provisional* and its
usefulness limited to listening until I can muster the occassion to
end up overseas spending time learning the languages in the place of
origin.   fortunately, this time will come.  :).

Damien (Joe).
Subject: Re: Learning Spanish - Rolling an R
From: workhard_playharder-ga on 25 May 2004 06:31 PDT

I speak English, however, I grew up in California and worked on the
border every summer. Also, my Mother has a Masters degree in French,
so I had all kinds of language coming at me!

Here's what I think you need to know:

The rolling "r" sound is made when pronouncing a word such as "rojo"
(pronounced "ro-ho" which means red).

The sides of the tongue roll up to the top of the mouth and create a
tunnel for escaping air.

The front of the tongue then "fluters" along the top of the front of
the mouth which makes a vibration noise. It is easiest if you sort of
smile or spread your lips to the side. Make noise in short bursts
until you can do it naturally. It is best if you can relax the front
of your tongue. It should sort of tickle.

Finally, once you can make the vibration noise repeatedly (don't try
to sound like an "r" at first), you then circle your mouth as if you
were whistling. Your lips should extend out forward some, which will
lower the sound somewhat.

Final step to make the rolling "r" sound. Like a wave coming forward
up from your lungs, exhale and say r. You'll notice that your tongue
pushes up in the back of your mouth and the front of your tongue pulls
back. This can't happen if you want to roll the r. Instead the wave
starts with the pushing of the tongue in the back of the mouth, then
finishes with the tongue staying in the front and then coming up to
the top to "fluter."

Eventually, you can say the r with the front of the tongue going back
and then ending at the fluter.

The rolling r is fun and will tickle if you do it right. 

Hope you enjoy!
Subject: Re: Learning Spanish - Rolling an R
From: crabcakes-ga on 25 May 2004 08:16 PDT
As a small child in Spain, I was told to practice the sentence below,
a rolling "R" tongue twister! You can practice workhard_playharder's

R con r cigarro, r con r barril,
rápido ruedan los carros por los rieles del ferrocarril

Buena Suerte!

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