The ‘R’ is one of the toughest parts of English pronunciation. That’s why at British Accent Training, we’re devoting a whole series to it – looking at how you can master it and make it natural. This means you need to know where to place it in a word, when to say it and when not to – but first you need to know how to make it.
The ‘R’ in the British accent is not tapped, like the Russian one. In a Russian tapped ‘R’, the tongue flaps up and taps the roof of the mouth, then comes back down. But in the British accent, the tongue pulls pack slowly and forcefully. It’s got the feeling of a fist curling up inside your mouth, and it sounds like a revving motorbike.
The lips also play a lot more of a roll in the British accent’s ‘R’. They pucker forward, almost like in a ‘sh’ sound. Use words like ‘shred’ and ‘shriek’ to get the placement. You’ll be going ‘shhh’ – puckering the lips forward – ‘rrrr’ – revving the motorbike – ‘ed’ – releasing onto the word.
It’s important to practice it slowly at first, getting quicker as you get better at it. A real British accent is very quick with its R’s, but they’re always powerful and strong. Often, students will come to us with what they consider to be lisps – inabilities to accurately say a certain sound. Often the R’s turn into ‘W’ sounds, and can sound a little limp and unclear. Strength and muscular power is what’s needed, so really rev up those ‘R’ sounds and make them strong.
Round The Rugged Rock The Ragged Rooster Ran
In the 100 most-used words in the English language, only two contain a ‘R’ sound – ‘From’ and ‘Great’.