How to pronounce the R & L sounds

How to Pronounce the R & L Sounds

How to Pronounce the R & L Sounds

How to pronounce the R & L sounds

Many of the Japanese and Chinese speakers who I work with in my accent reduction coaching program have difficulties with the American English /r/ & /l/ sounds.

These sounds are different

While the /r/ & /l/ are not distinct sounds in Mandarin, Cantonese or Japanese, they’re VERY distinct in American English. That’s why it’s a good idea to learn to differentiate these sounds when you speak.

When both sounds occur in the same word such as relevant, literally or reliable, saying these sounds clearly and distinctly can be really challenging.

Tips for pronouncing /r/ & /l/

Here are a couple of TIPS you can use to help you articulate these sounds correctly.

To make the light /l/ sound, touch your tongue to the ridge behind your upper teeth. The air should flow around your tongue as it leaves your mouth.

Slowly say the words:

  • light
  • listen
  • look

… feel the placement of your tongue.

To make the /r/sound, start with your tongue in a central relaxed position. Then bunch your tongue up and pull it back.

Slowly say the words:

  • red
  • rent 
  • run

……to feel the placement of your tongue.

Don’t let your tongue touch the roof of your mouth when you make the /r/ sound!

Practice drill

Use the practice drills below to pronounce the sounds of /l/ & /r/ in some common words.

Say each word slowly to feel the tongue position for the /l/ & /r/.

  • lake/rake
  • Eileen/Irene
  • led/red
  • light/right
  • list/wrist
  • long/wrong

This takes practice!

Getting these sounds right takes a lot of concentration & practice. You won’t master these sounds overnight!

When I work with my Chinese & Japanese clients we work on these sounds for a few minutes each time we meet. Then I assign them homework drills they can use to practice these sounds.

New sounds, just like new habits, take time to master. ☆

If you are a Chinese or Japanese  speaker who is working to improve your American English communication skills, follow this link to see the benefits of accent reduction coaching.

Get results!

While coaching costs more than books & audio courses, the personal attention & feedback that you get will help you improve much more quickly than self study options.☝

Professionals who use English on the job everyday such as doctors, managers & sales people frequently choose coaching to meet their professional development needs.