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ESL Learning: The “L” Sound

For those trying to learn a new language, all the subtle nuances between sounds can be very confusing. If you browse through the internet you will find a mountain of resources providing everything you need to perfect your accent, but all you really want is to be understood.

Take for instance the English consonant “L.” An internet search will bring up results for the DARK L, the LIGHT L, but for right now, all you want is to be able to pronounce the letter “L.” So let’s simply it. Forget about dark and light, and just concentrate on one sound.

Step 1

– Let’s start with the sound that is made when you say “uh.”

Do you feel your vocal cords vibrating? Excellent. The L is a “voiced” sound.

 Step 2

– Place the tip of your tongue against your teeth while your vocal chords continue vibrating.

You can place it behind your teeth, in front of your teeth, or even between your teeth, just keep it from moving. (English speakers, try saying the word “love.” You should be able to say the word with your tongue in any of these positions.)

 Step 3

– You can stop now, because you are done. That is it! That is the basic “L” sound.

As you continue to use this sound, you will notice that the placement of the tip of the tongue has a lot to do with the sounds that precede or follow the “L,” especially if the speaker is running the words together. So let’s practice, repeat after me…

It is a lovely day. I would really like to order a latte.

Well done.

Here are some more challenging words:

– lift       – left       – lily       – flu       – bottle

– legal       – cradle       – world       – ladle

L pronunciation

If you would like more help, English Tutor Online offers one on one lessons with native English speakers. Sign up for a free trial and start learning today!


By Joseph

ETO American English teacher

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