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Almost 40 per cent of spoken languages in the world use a sound called an alveolar trill. This sound is characterized by forcing air into a tiny gap between the tip of your tongue and the roof of your mouth, which creates a vibrating sound. It is a very hard sound to produce for native English speakers, and it can be particularly difficult for people who have never done this before!
The most basic way to learn how to make your tongue vibrate is by practicing lip trills. When you blow your lips in a “motor” motion, they make a raspberry-like sound that sounds very much like an alveolar trill.
Practice this exercise with your kids and help them develop conscious control over their tongue movement. Let them move the tongue toward and away from the palate consciously while saying words such as “shhh” or “chhh.”
This is a great exercise to help them develop conscious control over their voice. It also helps them learn the difference between an unvoiced sound and a voiced sound, which is important when learning to speak any language.
Once your child has developed this skill, they can begin pronouncing their own words. For instance, try saying the phrase “butter butter butter ladder ladder ladder.”
If they are having difficulty making this sound, continue to practice it until they are able to make it with complete accuracy and without thinking about what is going on in their mouth.
After a few weeks of consistent practice, your child will be able to say the sound with less effort. You can also try experimenting with different placements of the tip of your tongue to see what positions work best for you.
One of the most challenging things to do is to have your tongue relax and flap against the ridge of your alveolar bone (the part of your jaw that sits on the top of your teeth). This requires patience and a lot of practice.
To get your tongue to relax and flap properly, try using the phrase “tee dee va” or the phrase “flap your tongue” over and over again as you speak in order to get your tongue to loosen up. This may seem like an incredibly long, drawn-out process, but it’s really very simple once you understand what you are doing.
You can then proceed to practicing rolling your R’s. You’ll need to make a few mistakes, but don’t worry; you can always go back and repeat the process over and over again until you’re able to roll your R’s correctly every time!
If you are having trouble with this sound, consider signing up for The Elemental Sounds of Spanish Master Class. This program provides a number of training modules, videos and personal instruction that will guide you to master the alveolar trill and other important sounds in Spanish.
Practicing the alveolar trill is very important for any language student, but especially important for those who are trying to learn how to pronounce it in their native languages. It is a very difficult sound to achieve, but once you are able to roll your R’s it will be one of the most satisfying sounds to have in your repertoire.