I'm a native Russian speaker myself, but living in a English speaking country am starting to teach my pre-school daughter Russian myself at home and she is struggling with correctly pronouncing the "hard R" sound in words like in морковка

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to teach children (or adults for that matter) how to pronounce this tricky (for English speakers) sound?

  • Does Russian have two "r" sounds? A normal one and a "hard" one? Or is "hard" just a way to compare the normal Russian "r" to the English "r"? – hippietrail Jun 14 '12 at 7:54
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    @hippietrail the "hard r" is the regular one. There's also the soft one. They are both significantly different from the way English speakers pronounce "r". – kotekzot Jun 14 '12 at 8:03
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    @hippietrail: Hard /r/ and soft (palatalized) /rʲ/. See also: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_phonology. – Helgi Jun 15 '12 at 1:44

I tried this way with an adult: "How does a tiger say Grrrr!". It was a jokey mood and we tried it in various different ways of "tiger's dialect" until the person eventually found the correct sound. It took ~10 minutes in our case.

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In kindergarten, we have to do tractor-like sound vrrrrrrr. I coulnd't do that at the begin, but I've finally learn this. Now I have no problem distinguishing between and producing double-r and triple-r (although they are not used in any language I know, only in literature).

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If you're having a lot of trouble, you may wish to consult a doctor, it could be rhotacism (картавость), a fairly common speech defect.

This article seems like it could be useful.

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I don't think there's anything better than everyday practice. The more you talk to your kid the better for you both. Although when it comes to things that most children do at their age the adults aren't as good at keeping up with the conversation. And there's not much you can do about this, unless you get your kid to some Russian speaking daycare. The Russian embassy has to have one of the best ones.

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When I was 4 or 5, parents took me to a doctor, who helped me with correct tongue/lip positioning and gave me useful exercises. As I remember, most of them involved saying «RRRRRRRR» in plain and in the middle of other words: «RRRROCKET».

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