How to pronounce the letter L


Correctly pronouncing /l/ is very difficult for many non-native speakers. /l/ is commonly confused with/r/ or /w/. If you don’t have /l/ in your language, you will have to retrain your muscle memory.  You must focus on proper placement for your tongue, lips, jaw and air flow.

Making /l/

  • /l/ is made differently depending on where it is in the word.
  • Don’t move your jaw or lips when making /l/. Move only your tongue. Your tongue will have different places of articulation for Light L and Dark L.

Light L

  • The /l/ at the beginning of a word. This is the easiest to pronounce.
  • Light L is produced before a vowel.   late, like, lamp, look
  • The tip of tongue touches alveolar ridge.
  • Light L is a flick of the tongue against the alveolar ridge.  It has a la-la-la-la sound
  • The back of the tongue remains low.

Dark L

  • The /l/ at the end of the word. This is difficult to pronounce.
  • Dark L is produced after a vowel (or schwa).  call, school, tell, people
  • The tip of tongue touches alveolar ridge, and stays there. It is not a flick, like Light L.
  • Dark L has a “uh-l” sound.
  • The back of the tongue is raised toward the soft palate.

Practice both Light and Dark L

Bring your focus to the difference in tongue placement.

Practice /l/ in the initial position.

  1. later
  2. love
  3. long
  4. leave
  5. left
  6. location
  7. lasagna
  8. lamp
  9. lawyer
  10. listening

Practice /l/ in the final position.

  1. people
  2. call
  3. feel
  4. individual
  5. pool
  6. email
  7. unusual
  8. virtual
  9. until
  10. tell

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2 Responses to How to pronounce the letter L

  1. Slightly press the tip of your tongue on the top portion of your mouth. The position of the mouth is similar to the D and T sound, but is much softer.

    • admin says:

      L is made with the tip of the tongue. T and D are made with the blade of the tongue, slightly behind the tip. Place of articulation for all 3 sounds is the alveolar ridge. “softness” is not a consideration.

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