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

Learning Pronunciation

Using your eyes to learn pronunciation

This is simply 100% required if you want to reach a high level of fluency and comfort in your pronunciation. What you are about to read could possibly change the way you learn pronunciation forever; and I hope this is the case.


What is the problem?

Language learners simply have bad ears when listening to other languages. Many times we think we hear one sound, but then we speak it wrong. This is because our ears are poor and our mouth shapes are wrong. A specific vowel has specific mouth, lip and tongue shapes. If you are not aware of this, then learning pronunciation is very hard. Let us have a look at some examples to better understand the topic.

1) I may say the word ‘dog’ and the student may say ‘duck’ on accident.

This mistake happens because the learner is not aware that the word dog is spoken with the ‘aw’ vowel, which requires the lips to be put into a tall oval shape.

2)  I may say the word ‘off’ and the student may say ‘of’ on accident.

This mistake happens because the learner does realize that ‘off’ is pronounced with the ‘aw’ vowel which requires the lips to be put into a tall oval shape.

Also the learner does not realize that ‘of’ is a short ‘u’ vowel, meaning the jaw drops open naturally with the teeth only 1 pen-width gap between the teeth, requiring no oval shapes

So how do I benefit from knowing this?

Successful learners of pronunciation have 4 things in common:

  1. They know the actual name of every vowel they speak, for example the short ‘a’ or long ‘o’.

  2. They all watch TV, real people, YouTube clips or online lessons and learn much of their pronunciation by using their eyes.

  3. They actually use the language to communicate once they learn the correct pronunciation.

  4. They look at their own mouth shapes in mirrors and cameras when practicing pronunciation.


So how can I use this learning strategy?

Using your eyes for learning pronunciation is a strategy and skill that you can use when learning new words in real life or during lessons in class or online. Use this strategy when learning vowels or consonants. There are not that many vowels and consonants in English and you can learn this stuff fast.

Also, if you would like to try a pronunciation class with a specialist, feel free to send an email and book a free trial lesson with ETO.

By: Luke 

ETO American English teacher

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