ESL Learning: The “L” Sound

L letter

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

How to Talk About Time: 3 Idioms

Time is a topic that I am very fascinated with. For those of you who haven’t heard this word so far, “fascinated with” means very interested in.

Let talk about some time idioms:

ETO Time

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  • As we learn a new language, we must be patient with ourselves. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
  • When we are building our dreams, we have to take our time. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Each of these sentences speaks about the idea that everything big and important requires lots of time to finish. The phrase is used to encourage people to be persistent (be willing to do things over and over again until we succeed). The Roman Empire was a huge group of nation states. It was the biggest empire in Europe before the European Union.

The main idea is that anything worth having requires time to create. By the way “building our dreams” describes when we take the time to focus on creating the things that we really desire (really, truly want).

It’s about time!

  • Ah, the train station has a healthy restaurant. It’s about time!
  • It’s about time for us to become better listeners.

This is a phrase that is used to describe that the time for something has arrived. Perhaps we were even feeling like the thing we are talking about should have already come in the past. In the first example, the speaker has been waiting for a healthy food option to be available at the train station. Maybe there were only junk food restaurants (restaurants with unhealthy food) before.

The second example describes how now is the time for us to listen better.


Now is the time.

  • Now is the time for me to improve my speaking!
  • Why wait? Now is the time for me to move forward.

This idiom describes how this moment is the perfect time to take action. There is no need to wait. The time has arrived for right action.

So Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it’s about time to think about the best ways for us to learn language.

Have you tried a free online English class with ETO? Now is the time!

There’s no time like the present! Notice how present, a word that we use to describe right now, also means gift. This moment is a gift for you.  Use it to benefit yourself and the generations to come, and you will be satisfied when it is your time to go.

Blessings for Long Life and Happiness in Every Moment.


By Joseph

ETO American English teacher

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Using At, In and On


At, in, and on are some of the most frequently used words in the English language, but sometimes, they are very easy to mix up!

Let’s make these words a bit more clear.

When we talk about location (where something is), we use all three of these words. Here’s a general rule for distinguishing (deciding) which one is right.

We choose at for a point in space.

  • Where can I find the manager?

He’s at the front of the store.

In this case, we will have to go find the manager at the front (towards the entrance).

  • I parked at the corner of Main Avenue and 1st Street.

This sentence explains that I have parked my car where Main Avenue and 1st Street (also known as 1st St.) cross.


We use in to describe being within a self-contained (closed in) area, also known as an enclosed space, such as a building, a room, or a fenced in yard.

  • She’s in the library checking her email.

With this example, we can find this woman using the computer inside the library. Note that a person can be outside of the library, and still be at the library, but must be inside the building to be in the library.

  • Oops, I left my money in the car!

This sentence would be used especially if I have parked my car and then walked into a restaurant or store. In this case, I would need to go back to my car to get money to pay.


We prefer on to talk about something that is located on top of or connected to a surface.

  • The painting looks good on that wall.

This sentence describes a painting that is attached to the surface of a wall, where it looks nice.

  • Be careful! There’s some dog poop on the sidewalk.

We use this expression to let someone know that he/she needs to be careful to avoid some dog poop that is on the ground.

How about when we talk about time? By the way for some great time idioms, click here.


We use at to describe exact times, either based on a clock, or the time of day.

  • I will meet you at 10:30.
  • I love walking on the beach at sunset.

We choose in to talk about longer periods of time, like months, years, and beyond.

  • I will visit the U.S. in May.
  • Top hats were popular in the 19th century (1800s).

And on is reserved for specific days and dates.

  • I will see you on Thursday.
  • Her birthday is on July 14th.

Note that we say, “Her birthday is on July 14,” in British English.

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By Joseph

ETO American English teacher