Truths: Consonant blends with R

Please click here to listen to my my intro to the activity “Truths”.

Speakers from different countries share at least one challenge in terms of pronunciation: /r/. It’s right up there with /θ, ð/ in terms of difficulty. The challenge for a teacher is determining if the difficulty is limited to a certain position within a word or if practice is needed with this sound in all positions.

In previous posts like Truth or Dare, I’ve offered ideas for practicing the vowel sound /ɚ/. Today I’d like to focus on R as a consonant and, in particular, /r/ in initial consonant groups. Whether you call it a cluster or a blend, the key words in today’s activity have two or three distinct consonant sounds in a row, with /r/ being the last. Practice and street are two examples.

Please view my Consonant blends with R_handout. You’ll see the activity is straightforward: a list of statements to read and discuss. I note that this may be done in pairs, small groups, or as a whole class. Choose the format that best meets your needs. Encourage students to ask one another: “Do you agree or disagree?” Enjoy the exchange of opinions.

Suggestions: You can practice 2-3 sets at a time instead of trying to fit all ten into one lesson. Also, I’d encourage you to lead students through a listen-repeat drill at the start of each set. Read the key words only. Then after discussing a set of statements, end with a listen-repeat drill of those same statements.


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Amr Wady says:

    Have you heard about intrusive R?

    1. I have, but I don’t have in-depth knowledge about it. I speak standard American English, and so I don’t drop my R’s or insert them where there isn’t one in the spelling.
      For me, CAR is /kɑr/ and IDEA is /aɪˈdiə/.
      If you post specific question about the intrusive R, maybe another reader can help answer.

      1. Amr Wady says:

        Thanks a bundle Mrs. Jennifer. I got the idea.

  2. Hi I came across your website when looking for a better explanation into effect and affect, I am a medical secretary and no matter how hard I try I cannot work out the difference, do you have an easy explanation for me so I can recognise the correct one when I am listening to nurses dictation.

    1. Especially in the case of words that sound the same I’d advise you to learn collocations, that is, set phrases these words appear in. You will find a learner’s dictionary helpful. Look at the entries in the Longman Dictionary of Comtemporary English.
      For example, effect as a noun appears in these phrases: have an effect on, long-term effect, take effect, in effect, and others. Of course, in medicine, you likely hear a lot about the side effects of certain medication, right? The LDCE defines “effect” as “the way in which an event, action, or person changes someone or something”.
      You can have an EFFECT on someone or something and you can EFFECT change.
      The LDCE defines “affect” as “to do something that produces an effect or change in something or in someone’s situation”. It has to do with having an impact on someone or something. Examples of usage:
      Hurricane Irene did not affect my area as much as weather forecasters had predicted it would.
      The struggling economy has greatly affected the life of the average American.
      Look through the collocations for both entries and start learning the more common ones. Then you’ll be more familiar with them when you hear them at work.
      Good luck!

  3. Coolcat says:

    Hello jennifer
    I am a student(16) with a pronounciation problem of the r word. I have seen your videos; they have really helped me. However I do not know how to say words such as strong where I find it difficult to not touch the top palate since after the ‘st’ part you have to curl back your tongue for rong. please reply with exact instructions. I would really appreciate it.

    1. Hello.Can you break the word into individual sounds? s-t-r-o-ng? There is contact between the tongue and the roof of your mouth with /t/ (front of the mouth, tooth ridge) and /ŋ/ (back of the mouth). Drop your jaw a bit to help you avoid contact as you produce the middle sounds.

      On YouTube, you may also like PronunciationMeg, RachelsEnglish, and EnglishMeeting.

  4. Coolcat says:

    Hi again
    I don’t think I explained it well last time. For example the word grain, ‘ga’ is separate and rain is separate, this way you can join it and I understand it but for ‘strong’ it’s difficult. ‘St’ is with your tongue touching your teeth, as you try to curl back the tongue for rong, you can’t stop touching the top part of your mouth. Please help with this. If you could explain it clearly on here, the links you gave me last time did not help.
    Thank you

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