Accent and pronunciation improvement for Indian speakers – the case of rolling ‘R’
When it comes to English language, especially for a novice speaker from India continent, many sounds and pronunciations need extra attention. The ‘r’ sound is one such challenge for many Indians treading the English speaking universe.
The American/English ‘r’ sound is very different from the way many Indians pronounce it. Without realizing, some of us put extra stress on ‘r’; this extra stress/pronunciation may sound similar to ‘rolling r’.
This ‘rolling r’ sound results when we lightly placing the tip of our tongue just behind the upper front teeth, hitting it quickly – the ‘purrrr’ sound, for example.
Quick tips to improve ‘R’ sound
Here is a simple way to practice proper ‘r’ sound, to pronounce it the American/English way. Make a slight circle with your lips. As you do this, you will notice your lower jaw automatically push forward, slightly. Now, pull your tongue high in the back of your mouth; actually the middle of your tongue high in your mouth. You should feel the tip of your tongue lift up toward the roof of your mouth. Make sure that it does not touch the roof of your mouth or curl back toward throat. You can practice ‘r’ sound by repeatedly speaking ‘er’ or other short syllables.
Once you practice, you will also realize that there are further variations to the sound of ‘r’, depending on where it falls in the sentence/word. Let the sound of R flow; don’t put too much stress on this sound especially in the middle or in the end of a word. Now, don’t go the other extreme – don’t totally chew-up the sound of ‘r’ either. In word ‘Robert’, for example, the stress is on the first ‘R’ and middle ‘b’; let the second ‘r’ flow, without any pronounced stress.
Practice! Practice makes it perfect, not perrrfect!
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