What Exactly Does the Tongue Do When Saying the Bunched R Sound in Speech Therapy?

First things first, whether we are working on bunched R or retroflex R, we need to familiarize our students (and ourselves!) with the anatomy of the tongue at the beginning of therapy. It’s so important, in fact, that I often include anatomy lessons in my R resources, including this freebie in my TpT shop.

Okay great! Now we know the difference between the tip, the blade, and the root…. but now what? What does it all mean for the R sound? Preston, et al, 2020 gives us an awesome explanation to bolster our own knowledge of this complex phoneme. Here’s the breakdown:

Tongue Tip
     raised- either pointed straightforward or down

Sides of Tongue
touching top molars/gums

Back of Tongue (root)

retracted, lower than tongue tip

Back of Tongue (middle)
lower than the sides (like a “bowl”)

slightly rounded

slightly open

By the way, although most people use a bunched R, I actually find retroflex is easier to teach. (So much so, that it inspired my best-selling resource.) For more info on how the mouth produces bunched R, you can read this blog post.

R is such a tough sound to teach but you’re doing all the right things to help your students. Rock on, friend! I’m here if you need anything!

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Hi! I'm Lindsey!

I’m a pediatric SLP who specializes in the R sound. Fun fact- I actually used to dread the R but after dedicating a lot (like… a lot a lot) of time to researching and troubleshooting… I now love it! So much, in fact, that I currently spend my days treating “R kids” via my private practice and creating R resources and continuing education for SLPs via Speechy Things. I’m so glad you found me! Let’s “Rock the R” together!

"Something I looked forward to every week."

“I’m so grateful I was able to work with Lindsey. As a teenager, it has been a blessing to find an SLP as encouraging and approachable as Lindsey. Her method of self reflection has really helped me realize the flaws in my speech, and through that I was able to improve. Every session was met with a smile, and Lindsey’s supportive practices made therapy not only fun, but something I looked forward to every week. Thanks to Lindsey I was able to undo fifteen years of poor R’s, and replace it with strong, understandable speech.”

- Anna, 15-year-old client

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