Teaching the Spanish /r/ (tap) Sound

Teaching the Spanish /r/ (tap) Sound

A while ago I came up with a new way to teach a bilingual student the /r/ tap sound in Spanish. This particular student had been substituting a glottal fricative for both the /r/ tap and /R/ trill in Spanish. I tried to get him to produce the /r/ tap in Spanish for over a year. He was just not responding to cues to produce the /r/ tap in Spanish. 

I discovered that he was able to produce the intervocalic tap sound in English words like “meeting.” We were able to shape the production of the /r/ tap in Spanish by practicing real and nonsense words in English containing intervocalic “t” and “d” letters. For example, if I showed him a cue for “mira” (i.e., a picture of eyes with an arrow to show the action) in Spanish, he would not be able to produce it correctly. But if I showed him the words “meet a”, he was able to produce the sound in that context. We practiced several of these for multiple sessions before pairing the English cue with a picture representing the Spanish vocabulary word. In another session I had him practice saying “not Isabel” shortening it to “not Isa” and eventually to “not Is”. After practicing this for several sessions, I added a picture of a nose. Following a short transition period, he was able to start producing the /r/ tap in Spanish targets. He quickly advanced to producing the /r/ tap in Spanish with about 85% accuracy in structured activities. 

I have since used this technique successfully with two additional students who substituted the /r/ tap sound with a /y/ sound and were resistant to other forms of sound approximation or shaping practice.


What are some interesting techniques you have used that have worked for your clients or students?


Looking for Spanish Articulation resources? Click here for a link to my Spanish /r/ Tap Articulation Cards ($3.50) for sale on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Also check out my Teachers Pay Teachers Store for more articulation and phonological intervention resources for the Spanish /r/ tap sound, as well as others, such as:

Spanish /r/ Tap Simple Sentences Activity ($2)

Spanish /r/ Tap and /rr/ Trill Minimal Pairs Articulation Cards ($5)

Spanish /r/ Tap and Intervocalic /d/ Minimal Pairs Articulation Cards ($5)

Spanish Minimal Set /r/ Tap, /rr/ Trill, and intervocalic /d/ Mini Poster ($2)


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