When I do accent reduction coaching with my clients from Japan, Korea, China, Latin America (and sometimes India, France & Haiti) we work on the sounds of the American R.
As you can see….he American English r is a very difficult sound for many non-native speakers to articulate correctly! ✔
The American English r sounds like /ɚ/. The sound is made by bunching the middle of the tongue high in the back of the mouth and rounding the lips. The tip of the tongue curls up a bit, but it never touches the roof of the mouth.
When a vowel is followed by an r, the vowel sound changes. These are called r-controlled vowels, or r-colored vowels.
Here are some of the phonemes you will hear.
The letters ar can sound like /ɑɚ/ as in: car, guitar & star.
The letters ear can sound like /iɚ/ as in: near, fear & beard.
The letters or usually sound like /ɔɚ/ as in: or, more & course.
The letters ir, er and ur, sound like /ɚ/ as in: bird, were, & fur.
Since the sounds of r-colored vowels are so complicated, many pronunciation books and courses simplify these.
The best book that I know of for learning the r-colored vowel sounds is Ann Cook’s American Accent Training. You can see the book by clicking on the link below.
Remember that perfecting the pronunciation of R will not give you a perfect accent. Some people think this is true….
Speaking clear American English, in a way that Americans will understand you, depends on using both sounds & stress patterns correctly.
I teach you all of these features for clear spoken English in my Skype accent reduction coaching program.