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Perfect "L" in English

How do we pronounce the /l/ sound?  The keys to pronouncing /l/ correctly in English are tongue position and lip position.  

For the /l/ sound, the tongue tip touches the gum, just above upper front teeth, the incisors.  The sides of the tongue do not make contact with the inside of the upper teeth.  When /l/ comes before a vowel, the back of the tongue remains low. When it is pronounced after a vowel, the back of the tongue elevates. The two variants of /l/ have a slightly different sound.  Listen to a native speaker of English, and compare the sound of leap and peel.  You will be able to hear the difference between the two /l/ sounds.

The lips always remain unrounded when pronouncing /l/.  They do not come closer together for the /l/ sound.  

Some English learners confuse /r/ and /l/. Here are some of the differences.

For /r/:

  • The tongue goes back.
  • The tongue tip does not touch anywhere.
  • The lips go forward. They are half-rounded.

For /l/:

  • The tongue goes forward.
  • The tongue tip does touch the gum behind the upper front teeth.
  • The lips retract. They are unrounded.

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