I had read somewhere online that an SLP had some success in guiding placement for the /r/ sound by using a disposable dental floss pick. I kept meaning to try it, but never remembered to bring a pack to school. This morning, I was brushing my teeth, and remembered that I had a student on my schedule for this afternoon that has been struggling with the /r/ sound, so I grabbed our little jar of these to take with me to school today.
What you are going to do is use this to show your student exactly how far back your tongue needs to be in your mouth to make a good /r/ sound. When looking at the “u” shape of the pick, put one “leg” of the “u” right behind your top front teeth. The far “leg” of the “u” should push back your tongue; tell your student to try to touch the top tip of the pick with the tip of their tongue.
Once you’ve got their tongue lined up, try a few /r/ sounds in different contexts, like /er/, /or/, or /ar/. Once you find one that sounds pretty good, have the student practice it multiple times. Then, pull the pick out, and see if they can find that tongue position without the pick, and say the target sound again.
I found that with my student, using the pick really made him more aware of where his tongue is supposed to go for the /r/ sound, and he was able to pull it out and make a stronger /r/ than I have heard from him before! It’s definitely not a magic wand, but it certainly helps! And when it comes to the dreaded /r/, I’ll take all the help I can get.
Note: As you can see, all I had were the mint version, but if you can find an unflavored version, get those instead! You’ll quickly get tired of the mint flavor. 🙂
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Cheerful One says
Is this for the retroflexed /r/ then?
Natalie Snyders says
Yes, this would be for the retroflexed /r/.
I use these for /r/ as well. Sometimes I just place them from the side to help prop the molars apart and make the tongue work to get into place.
You have beautiful teeth
Dean Trout says
She sure does, doesn't she.
Pure genius. I have been using the ka-la method Old School Speech described and have had GREAT success with that!
I’ve been the Karla method too!!!! It’s gotten my student as close to /r/ as I’ve ever heard! Looking forward to trying the pick!
Patricia Rakovic says
What a terrific idea I am sharing with my students.
Great post! I ran right out and bought some to try this weekend!
Colette 425 says
Sue From PA says
I have used a tongue depressor before, but this is much better b/c it is less intrusive and provides more visual access. Love it – I'll make the switch. (You have such pretty teeth!)
Carolynne Cotton says
As a 66 year old who can’t say the dreaded r sound, lisps still and went to speech therapy for years as a child but never “ got it”, then called my kids Richard and Rachel, spent my working life as a lecturer and health visitor and referred so many little ones for assessment, was fascinating.!
Myravina Adonis says
Thanks Natalie! Great help!!!
I’ve been teaching in Korea for the past 14 years and teaching the ‘r’ sound has been the biggest challenge.
I’m going shopping right now for few bags of these!!
Thank you. Can;t wait to try it with some of my /r/ students!
What about children/ Is the distance between “u” endings is not too big??