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How to pronounce the French R

Step-by-step instructions

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Many French students have trouble with the letter R. Follow these step-by-step instructions to learn how to pronounce the French R.

Difficulty: average

Time required: a few minutes a day

Here's how
  1. Open your mouth.
     
  2. Close your throat as if you're going to gargle or to avoid swallowing a mouthful of liquid, and say K carefully, several times.
     
  3. Pay attention to where in your throat the K sound is made. We'll call this the K place.
     
  4. Begin slowly closing your throat, until you can almost feel the K place. Your throat should be only partially constricted.
     
  5. Tense the muscles around the K place.
     
  6. Gently push air through your partially constricted throat.
     
  7. Practice saying Ra-Ra-Ra (where R = steps 4-6) every day.

Tips
  • Try not to think of this letter as an R. The French R is nothing like the English R (pronounced in the middle of the mouth) or the Spanish R (pronounced in the front of the mouth). The French R is pronounced in the throat.
     
  • Go back to page 1 to listen to sound files with the letter R.
     
  • The French R sounds a lot like the ch in "Loch Ness" and the kh in Arabic transcription, as in Khalid.
     
  • Practice makes perfect!
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