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Two questions:

1. How does French divide its syllables. I sometimes hear the French word "passe" as a single syllable [pas] or two syllables with a schwa [pa.sə]. Which one is correct?

2. As for the "r" pronunciation, do you trill it at the front of the tongue or at the back of the tongue?

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The answer to (1) is slightly complex, but basically the answer is that both pronunciations are possible depending on the circumstances. If you imagine dividing a given setnece or utterances into "phrases" (how you do that is a complex issue, but let's pretend it's not):

- phrase-finally (i.e. where it would be in the last syllable in the phrase), in "standard" non-emphatic pronunciations, the schwa tends to be deleted;
- phrase-initially (i.e. where it would be in the first syllable in the phrase) , there is a tendency to keep the schwa except in very informal speech; however, there common exceptions that seem more or less common/acceptable in the everyday speech of educated speakers, where the initial consonant a single fricative (you've probably heard, e.g. "je t'aime" pronounced as "chtaime", "je crois" as "chkrois"), or possibly just because the combination of words in question is common (e.g. "t(e) fais pas de soucis");
- phrase-internally, things are a bit more complex, but as a guide, speakers tend to avoid having a schwa preceded by just a single consonant, but tend to retain it if preceded by two or more consonants;
- before an "h aspiré", the schwa tends to be retained (and is obligatory with the word le if the speaker is genuinely treating the following word as an "h aspiré" word, so e.g. the classic case is that in "dans le haut", the schwa is retained, but in "dans l(e) bas" it can be deleted).

There are lots of additional complications and points that aren't clear, but the above is a good starting point.

Note that we use the word "deleted" with slight caution-- there is some evidence suggesting that a schwa may be "deleted" but actually retain some residue of pronunciation, e.g. lip rounding. Also, the situation does depend on the particular speaker's particular accent and ideolect, how emphatically/formally they are speaking...

As for (2), generally speaking for most French speakers, the "r" is basically a uvular fricative (see this first version of a page I put together on the pronunciation of the French "r"). That basically means that the tongue makes contact with the uvula (the "dangly" bit in the back of your mouth at the end of the soft palate), and comes close enough to cause friction (the "raspy" noise you hear) as the air passes through the gap, but doesn't actually stop the sound. Note that it's rarely "trilled" in the strict sense, except in emphatic pronunciation.


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