Quick Survey: Bunched "r" or Retroflex "r&quo

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Quick Survey: Bunched "r" or Retroflex "r&quo

Post by arizonawildcat » Tue Sep 21, 2004 4:05 am

Quick informal survey for a paper I'm currently writing:

When teaching the American English "r" sound to non-native students, do you typically use the bunched version or retroflex version?

(The bunched version is with the tongue pulled deep to the back of the mouth. The retroflex leaves the tongue more or less in place, but tilts the tongue upwards.)

My research has shown that most Americans use bunched "r". I was curious to know if a good portion of ESL/EFL teachers out there are teaching the bunched or retroflex version.

Thanks for your time!

B. Meadows (arizonawildcat)

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Post by Lorikeet » Tue Sep 21, 2004 4:09 am

I teach "bunched". I have seen bad results with students who have read about a "retroflex r" and don't keep their tongue against their top back teeth when they retroflex. Since I don't retroflex my tongue myself, I don't teach it. (I was sure surprised the first time I read about the retroflex in an ESL book and then figured out my tongue actually pointed down. ;) This is the first I've heard of someone actually paying attention to it. Hurray for you :D.

(I've had some luck with them starting with an "/i/" sound and sliding their tongues back.)


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Post by Metamorfose » Tue Sep 21, 2004 3:48 pm

My local variant of Portuguese has a retroflex /r/ that more or less matches the American retroflexed /r/, so most teachers here teach the retrolflex /r/.


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Visual interference

Post by revel » Wed Sep 22, 2004 5:10 am

Good morning.

I have to face the visual interference of the written symbol here in Spain, where the "r" has a specific sound value (a rolled "arrrrr") which is not appropriate for ESL. I begin the teaching of an acceptable "r" sound with "w" exercises:

woo woo woo woo

then oo-rr oo-rr oo-rr

pointing out that with the "oo" the tongue makes a tubular sound that is projected into infinity, while pulling the lips back a bit, curling the tip of the tongue up a bit, transforms this same sound into a ball of energy that floats in front of the the face, held in place by a concentrated effort to visualize that sound.

I've used this "r" instruction for many years with many different nationalities of learners and for many other reasons than simply visual interference stemming from shared alphabetic graphic symbols with different sound values. It comes in part from living in two different parts of the US and having my own "r" sound criticized for being "different" from the one in use wherever I was at the time.


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