Pronunciation of the R's
10 MINUTE LESSON RULES: 1. Say the examples. 2. Pay close attention to the underlined parts.
In this lesson we will look at how to correctly pronounce the R sounds. For English speakers these are probably the most difficult to pronounce, because it sounds nothing like the English R sounds.
GOOD NEWS! Really, if you spend a little time learning how the sounds work, you can master it in no time! Get ready!
THE LESSON YOU NEED TO KNOW...
PART ONE: The Tongue...
The sound is made by lightly slapping your tongue just behind your upper teeth. Think of making an L sound, like LOVE. That is the approximate place. The only difference between the Japanese R and the English L sound is how long the tongue is held there. In English the tongue is held a while while air goes around it. In Japanese, the tongue is immediately dropped.All of the R sounds are made the same way with the tongue.
Read that again and then once more while actually making the sound.
PART TWO: The Mouth...
The mouth takes a little practice to make it natural, but it is also easy, really. Very simply, for RA RI & RE the mouth is more opened and for RU & RO the mouth is more rounded and shut. [NOTE: actually for perfect pronunciation, ALL 5 sounds have separate mouth positions -- we will look at this, but remember basically for RA, RI & RE the mouth is more opened and RU & RO it is rounded and smaller.]
I apologize for the pictures, but here are the 5 general positions of the mouth for the 5 different sounds... To hear a sound file for each sound click on the letter below:
Again the most important thing is RA, RI & RE (the yellow) have a kind of opened, wide mouth and RU & RO (the red) have a more rounded, small mouth. Practice saying them in order -- (open mouth) RA RI (round mouth) RU (open mouth) RE (round mouth) RO. Listen to the sound file -- RARIRURERO.wav (53 kb)
Lastly remember, slap the tongue with a wide mouth for RA, RI, RE and slap the tongue with a round mouth for RU & RO.