How to Teach the R Sound in Articulation Therapy – To Use Bunched or Retroflex, That is the Question

There are two ways to produce the R sound – bunched and retroflex. It’s really easy for us as therapists to get a little too comfortable teaching only one variation but I’m here to tell you… that could be the reason your student hasn’t made more progress.

I’m a firm believer in selecting the form of R sound production that is most suited for the child… but how do we determine if bunched or retroflex is best?


That is a question I get asked A LOT and I speak about all the time in my VIP emails. Here is how I do it:


if they are already stimulable for R, watch their tongue and/or ask them how they are producing it. If they’ve already got a solid R- there’s no need to change it. Stay on that bunched (or retroflex!) path.


If they are not stimulable for R, no problem.

They do not need to have their R for us to determine which variation to start teaching. To decide, I start by describing and eliciting a bunched R. Visuals always help (and I have a free bunched vs retroflex visual for you at the end of this post.) I discuss keeping their tongue wide, pulled back like a mountain, and then I watch.


If their tongue does a “backflip” then we start using retroflex. If they are able to keep their tongue tip neutral, then we stick with bunched.

In summary…. watch their mouth! This may mean you get down on the ground with a flashlight so you can see what’s going on. (YES I do this regularly.)

Although I use a bunched R naturally, I actually most often teach retroflex. I have developed a method of Teaching R that has been really helpful. You can read more about it in this blog post.


If you are looking for additional support in getting your student started with R, check out Eliciting R. It covers everything from stimulability checks, to choosing bunched or retroflex, to elicitation strategies with tons of visuals and cues.


I am excited to hear how this little trick goes for you! I’m always happy to connect on instagram.

If you’re interested in getting hooked up with more R tips and receiving a free visual that describes Bunched vs Retroflex R (like the one below), we can do that too! Just click here to become a VIP! (Very Important Pathologist) You can unsubscribe at any time.



Okay, you are SET! Go team!

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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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