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Mastering The Vocalic R Sound in Speech Therapy

There are many benefits to mastering the vocalic R sound in speech therapy. Children who can properly produce this sound have better articulation, pronunciation, and enunciation of words. In addition, they often have an improved ability to understand and be understood by others when speaking. If you are a parent or caregiver of a child who is working on mastering the vocalic R sound, here are a few tips to help support them in their efforts.


In this article we will discuss:


A girl working on her vocalic R.

What is the vocalic R sound?

The vocalic R is a different type of sound R. The normal R sound is made by touching the

tongue to the roof of the mouth. The vocalic R is made by pushing the tongue back and curling it up. It is made by curling the tongue back and raising the back of the tongue. This sound is also sometimes called the retroflex R.


Steps to produce the Vocalic R


Step 1: Know the Difference

The first step to producing the vocalic R is to know the difference between it and the regular R sound. As we mentioned, the regular R sound is made by touching the tongue to the roof of your mouth. The vocalic R is made by pushing your tongue back and curling it up. Help your child feel the difference in their mouth by having them practice making both sounds.


Step 2: Relax the Tongue

The next step is to get your child to relax their tongue. This may seem counterintuitive since they need to curl their tongue back for the vocalic R, but it’s important that they start with a relaxed tongue. A tense tongue will make it difficult to produce the correct sound. To help your child relax their tongue, have them do some tongue exercises. Stick their tongue out as far as they can and have them wiggle it around. Or, have them make an “ooo” sound and then a “rrr” sound.


Let us teach your child that stubborn R sound!

Let us teach your child that stubborn R!

Step 3: Curl the Tongue Back

Once your child’s tongue is relaxed, it’s time to start working on curling it back for the vocalic R. To do this, have them stick their tongue out and then curl the back of it up. They should imagine that they are trying to touch the roof of their mouth with the back of their tongue. Once they have the hang of this, have them practice saying words with a vocalic R in them.


Step 4: Practice, practice, practice

The only way your child is going to master the vocalic R sound is by practice. So, make sure that they are practicing regularly. Every day, if possible. You can help them by coming up with words that contain the sound for them to practice. And, don’t forget to praise them when they produce the sound correctly.


When starting to learn a sound, start by teaching them to produce the sound at the initial word position. This will help the child to learn how to produce the sound. After the child is able to produce the sound at the beginning of words, move on to teaching them how to produce the sound in other positions within words. Then, children will start to learn how to produce the sound in sentences. This is the final step in teaching the child how to produce the sound correctly. Again,

  1. Teach your child to produce the sound at the beginning of words.

  2. Teach your child to produce the sound in other positions within words.

  3. Teach your child to produce the sound in sentences.


The only way your child is going to master the vocalic R sound is by practice. So, make sure that they are practicing regularly. Every day, if possible. You can help them by coming up with words that contain the sound for them to practice. And, don’t forget to praise them when they produce the sound correctly. With time and practice, your child with a speech impairment will be producing the vocalic R sound like a pro!

Example of words with vocalic R includes:

  • First

  • Turn

  • Purse

  • Learn

  • Stir

  • Bird

  • Shirt

  • Earth

  • Nurse

  • Start

These are some of the words that have the sound of vocalic R in them. There are many other words too. You can help your child practice by coming up with other words that have this sound. With time and practice, your child will be able to produce the sound correctly and fluently.


Vocalic R and coarticulation

Coarticulation is when two sounds are produced at the same time. The vocalic R is often produced with other sounds. This means that when your child is working on producing the vocalic R, they may also be working on other sounds. This is actually one of the reasons why children have a hard time spelling words with a vocalic R in them. They may be able to say the word correctly, but when they go to spell it, they have trouble because they are used to producing the sound with other sounds.


Articulators in speech that affects vocalic R

These are just a few tips to help your child master the vocalic R sound. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to speak with your child’s speech therapist. They will be able

to give you tailored advice based on your child’s individual needs.


Why is it important for children to master the vocalic R sound?

There are many reasons why it is important for children to be able to produce the vocalic R sound correctly.


First, this sound is made in many common words. This means that if your child is not able to produce the sound, they may have trouble with some everyday words. It may result to a speech impairment. Second, the vocalic R is often produced with other sounds. This means that if your child is not able to produce the sound correctly, they may have trouble with some common words that contain this sound.


Third, the vocalic R is an important sound in English. It can change the meaning of a word if it is not produced correctly. For example, the word “right” can mean “correct” or “opposite of left” depending on how the vocalic R is pronounced. Finally, children who are not able to produce the vocalic R sound correctly may have trouble with reading and spelling words that contain this sound.


While there are many reasons why it is important for children to master the vocalic R sound, these are just a few of the most important ones. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to speak with your child’s speech therapist. They will be able to give you tailored advice based on your child’s individual needs.


This is why it’s so important to get started early with speech therapy. The earlier your child starts, the more likely they are to reach their speech and language milestones. If you think your child could benefit from speech therapy, contact a speech-language pathologist in your area. They will be able to assess your child’s needs and develop a treatment plan to help them master the vocalic R sound.


Activities that you can do at Home to practice Vocalic R

Here are some activities that you can do at home to help your child practice the vocalic R sound:

  • Make a list of words that contain the vocalic R sound. Help your child practice saying these words.

  • Play word games that focus on the vocalic R sound. You can find some games online or make up your own.

  • Read books together that contain words with the vocalic R sound. Help your child identify and say the words that contain this sound.

  • Listen to music together that contains words with the vocalic R sound. Help your child sing along and identify the words that contain this sound.

  • Practice making the vocalic R sound in different positions in words.

Tips for Parents

Children with speech impairments often have trouble with other sounds as well. Just like any other communicative difficulties, here are some tips parents should know to maximize their child's development.

  1. Be patient. It takes a lot of time and practice for children to learn to produce the vocalic R sound correctly. Do not get discouraged if your child is not making progress as quickly as you would like.

  2. Practice, practice, practice. The more you help your child practice the vocalic R sound, the better they will become at producing it.

  3. Give positive feedback. When your child produces the vocalic R sound correctly, be sure to give them lots of positive feedback. This will help them feel motivated to continue practicing.

  4. Seek professional help. If you think your child could benefit from speech therapy, contact a speech-language pathologist in your area.


Speech impairments in speech therapy

When To Seek Professional Help

If you have concerns about your child’s speech and language development, it’s important to seek professional help. The vocalic R should be mastered at the age of 4 years, and if your child is not producing this sound correctly by this age, they may need speech therapy for their speech impairment.


A speech-language pathologist will be able to assess your child’s needs and develop a treatment plan to help them master the vocalic R sound. Speech-language pathologists not only assess your child's speech but also look at the way your child uses and understands language. This is important because many children who have trouble with speech also have trouble with language.


You can find a speech-language pathologist in your area by searching online or asking your child’s doctor for a referral.


Conclusion

The vocalic R is an important sound in English. It can change the meaning of a word if it is not produced correctly. For this reason, it’s important for children to master this sound. If you have concerns about your child’s speech and language development, it’s important to seek professional help. A speech-language pathologist will be able to assess your child’s needs and develop a treatment plan to help them master the vocalic R sound.


At Better Speech, we offer online speech therapy services convenient for you and tailored to your child's individual needs. Our services are affordable and effective - get Better Speech now.

 

About the Author

Mikee Larrazabal


I am a Speech-Language Pathologist with 14 years of experience working with children and adults who have communication difficulties. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science at Cebu Doctors' University and have been helping people overcome their communication challenges ever since.


I have worked with individuals of different ages, including toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, adults and seniors. I'm passionate about speech therapy and take great satisfaction in helping people overcome their communication challenges and improve their lives through better communication skills. In my spare time I like reading books, going hiking in nature and taking care of my dog Locas.

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