Pronouncing /l/ and /r/

Pronunciation is very important in English. Poor pronunciation can lead to a breakdown of communication, and you may even end up changing the meaning of what you are saying. Sometimes it can be amusing for native speakers who hear these mistakes, but with a little effort on the learners’ part, improvement can be made in very little time.

Look at these pairs of words and it’s easy to see how confusing your conversation could become if you struggle with the /l/ and /r/ sounds in English.

So, how can we change the way that we speak? For many learners of English in Asia this area of pronunciation causes particular difficulties because the sounds do not exist in the native languages of the region. It is important to think about the position of the tongue in the mouth and the shape of the lips as we make these sounds.

I have recently spent a lot of time in online classes pushing my face up close to my webcam so that the student on the other end can see what my mouth is doing. They have then tried to replicate what I did, and this has been pretty successful so far. It is something that needs to be practised in your own time too though, and a mirror can be really helpful! Take a look at this excellent Youtube video to help you study this by yourself. It covers pretty much what I do myself in class.

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