I have tried for some time to make the RR sound but I can't get my tongue to vibrate for the most part. It's stiff and doesn't move at all or it vibrates slightly without any sound. If I try to relax it nothing happens. My tongue is placed at the top of my mouth slightly on the alveolar ridge. I breathe out and nothing happens. The air just forces out between the ridge and my tongue or the sides of my tongue. I tried really hard to relax my tongue but it just doesn't vibrate at all. I can perform the short tapped r but not the long trilled r.

I can somewhat get my tongue to vibrate in a certain tongue position a little I think but there is no sound and the vibration is very tiny. I have tried different tongue positions and it's the same result. The air gets forced over my tongue and it does not vibrate. The airflow is flowing into my tongue and exiting to the sides of my tongue. What could I be doing wrong?


You're not alone in this. A common problem for learners of any language is that sounds that are not present in their native languages can be quite challenging. In the case of the rolled r, even native speakers learn this sound at an older age.

More than trying to overthink the exact position of your muscles, try repetition. If you don't have any particular facial problem, your capability to pronounce rr is there but your body is not yet prepared to make the sound so it will take time. If you can get help from native Spanish language speakers, ask them to pronounce it for you and correct your pronunciation. Try not only to imitate the sound but also the facial movements. Videos or audios can also be of help.

Also remember, you don't need to sound native to sound fine. Having a foreign accent with a clear pronunciation is as good as being native.

I will leave these tong twisters that will help you with the rolled r sound. I have marked in bold the places where the rr sound must be pronounced.

The first one is challenging for a typical 5 years old child.

Erre con erre cigarro, erre con erre barril, rápido ruedan los carros cargados de azúcar del ferrocarril.

This one is challenging for typical 6 to 8 years old children.

Parra tenía una perra y Guerra tenía una parra. Pero la perra de Parra rompió la parra de Guerra.
Guerra pegó con la porra a la perra de Parra.
Parra le dijo a Guerra:
¿Por qué Guerra le ha pegado con la porra a la perra de Parra?
Porque si la perra de Parra no hubiera roto la parra de Guerra, Guerra no habría pegado con la porra a la perra de Parra.

  • My tongue does not move at all for the most part. It only slightly moves but there is no sound. I've tried positioning it the same way as people say but it is the same result. Very stiff and no vibration or tiny movement but no sound. I force more air and nothing. Less air and nothing. I get the same result. I don't get what I am doing wrong. I tried the Q-tip method and that doesn't work. My tongue just cannot relax enough near the tip to vibrate. The air just escapes from the sides of my mouth with no trill r sound made.
    – user28114
    Dec 27 '20 at 10:05
  • I don't think you're doing anything particularly wrong. This is a tough one. In some cases children struggle with this even to ages as advanced as 10 years old and in rare cases even more. I estimate that, depending many factors (being one the native language) typical adults could take from 2 to 20 hours of active practice to learn the rr sound.
    – Krauss
    Dec 27 '20 at 11:03

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