R and L Sounds Diagram and Explanation

R and L Sounds

The R and L sounds change considerably from one language to another.
L Sound Pronunciation: To make this sound, place the front of your tongue flatly on the ridge behind your upper teeth. Some languages have a heavy L sound in which a lot of the tongue is firmly pressed. American English has a moderate L sound. A small U-shape portion of the front of the tongue is lightly pressed. When L comes at the end of a word, it is usually an even lighter sound. Think about the difference between saying ladder and people. With ladder, the L is more distinct. With people, it is very quick and light. Get extra practice with L and N sounds here.

R Sound Pronunciation: In the English language, the R sound is made by tensing the tongue. It is actually similar to a Y sound, as in yellow. Yet with R, the tongue is much tenser. This causes the throat to feel a little tight. Of course, when we speak, the R sound happens quickly, but there are a lot of muscles at work. In British English, the R is dropped in the middle and at the end of words. In American English, we speak all R sounds. When R is the last letter, as in weather, it is softer, but it is still a clear R sound. Get extra practice with R in different places within words.

Trilling: The trilled R that is used in Spanish, Arabic and other languages, is exactly opposite to the American R. The tongue touches the upper ridge of the mouth repeatedly as air is released. This means the tongue has to be relaxed. In American English, the tongue is so tense that it cannot touch the top of the mouth. If you are used to a trilled R and want to use the American R, keep tensing the tongue until the trill is impossible. If you prefer to keep a trilled R as part of your moderate accent, teach yourself to use a soft, light trill. Most people will understand you without difficulty.

Building L and R Sounds

The L Sound: If you are used to a heavy L sound, it can help to say Lalalalalala a few times a day with a lighter L. You can also read aloud from a book and concentrate on using a lighter sound.

The R Sound: If the American R is difficult, you can say RRRRRRRRRR to yourself whenever you have free, alone time. There are 36 muscles in the tongue, and it takes time to build these muscles. You can also read aloud from books and push yourself to pronounce all R sounds.

The RL Ending

Some people struggle with the -rl ending. The secret is to put a small schwa sound between the R and L. Because the schwa sound is so simple, it is basically giving you time to move from one sound to the other.
750 Business WordsR and L Main Page
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