Last week, after my daughter had finished up her spanish lesson, my husband commented that she is still having a lot of trouble pronouncing the “r” sound correctly. For any of you that are familiar with the spanish language, this means that she can’t roll her r’s…also known as trilling. So, I started to scour the internet for words of advice. Is this a developmental block that is only overcome at a certain age? Is there anything that we can do to help her out? And the answer is…there is not much out there.
It seems that trilling is partly developmental. I read on a few sites that most children learn to do this between the ages of 5 and 7 (maybe 8) years old, with some children figuring it out earlier. I also read that some people can never roll their r’s and some suggested just avoiding those words that have obvious rr’s in them, like “carro” (not practical in my mind).
Some spanish-as-a-foreign-language sites suggested some drill sounds (DRA, DRE, DRI, DRO, DRU is one) and some tongue twisters. Other people have recommended saying “one pot of tea” quickly so that it sounds like “para ti.” I also read that the double d sound in “ladder” and the double t sound in “butter” would help others understand how to trill if they said the words quickly enough.
After reading up on this for a bit, I don’t have a conclusion. I think that next time I am in Colombia I will see how well my daughter’s friends can pronounce their words and ask my mother-in-law (retired kindergarten teacher) her opinion.