Hi! I'm Clever Apple! Today, I will introduce some ways to pronounce L and R sounds. I The strategies are based on English teaching theories that I learned at Wollongong university in Australia.
- 0. Why we should pronounce L and R correctly?
- 1. Tips for pronouncing L and R
- 2. Identify the parts you cannot pronounce L and R sounds
- 3. Another way of practice: 'Shadowing'
- 4. Summary
0. Why we should pronounce L and R correctly?
I have seen a lot of EFL (English as a foreign language) learners struggle with pronouncing L and R sounds.
I fully understand how you feel. I was one of the learners who could not pronounce L and R and I practiced again and again.
However, don't worry about that!! This is natural for learners who do not have such sounds in their first languages.
In this article, I will discuss some strategies for pronouncing such sounds as soon as possible!
Firstly, why are L and R sounds especially important???
The answer is, the 2 sounds significantly affect your 'Intelligibility'!
Intelligibility has a strong connection with what the interlocutor understands or not. High intelligibility can lead to smooth communication without misunderstanding.
According to Catford (1987), the functional load of L/R sounds pair is staggering 83% and this figure is much higher that 51% that is thought to be 'high functional load' (Munro and Derwing,2006).
The sounds whose functional load is high can influence the intelligibility, and mispronouncing the sounds can cause miscommunication.
(On the other hand, the functional load of pairs such as b/v and z/ð are 29% and 1% respectively and not important for communication.)
When you say ' I eat lice' instead of 'I eat rice', the meanings of the sentences are totally different. (I don't think people eat lice...)
In summary, distinguishing L and R sounds is important for effective communication.
1. Tips for pronouncing L and R
Let's learn how to pronounce R at first!
When you pronounce R, your tongue does not touch any parts of your mouth.
①Shape your mouth to utter /ɑ/ sound and say 'Ah'.
②Roll your tongue up gradually and the sound become R sound.
③Don't say 'ru' at the end.
Next, I will explain how to pronounce words that begin with R such as right.
①Shape your mouth to utter /u/ sound and say 'ooh'.
②Then, roll your tongue up and you may feel the quality of the sound become different.
③Say 'right', stretching your tongue forth.
④Try other words with R sound.
⑤You can skip the first step if you can pronounce well.
Next is L sound!
①Shape your mouth to utter /e/
②Pronounce /u/, your tip of the tongue touching between your upper teeth and tooth ridge.
You can pronounce words that start with L such as 'light' in this way.
①Your tip of the tongue touches between your upper teeth and tooth ridge.
②Flick your tongue forward and say light.
③Practice other words as well.
Did it go well??
If you cannot pronounce at first, you can definitely do it!!!
You can also use your mirror to practice the sounds.
2. Identify the parts you cannot pronounce L and R sounds
Once you can pronounce words like 'right' and 'light', next step is to practice words that have L and R at the middle or the end of the words.
The words include words such as 'elbow', 'problem', 'little' and 'car'. (If you can pronounce these words more easily, you can start with the words.)
After that, you can check your pronunciation by using Siri or similar devices.
3. Another way of practice: 'Shadowing'
If you don't like the method I explained above or you can utter individual words, you can try 'shadowing'.
In shadowing, you speak sentences like a shadow just after a model speaker read scripts.
Through shadowing, your pronunciation and accents become like that of the model speaker, and you can learn how to pronounce English sentences in authentic contexts.
When I started shadowing for the first time, my family members said to me that 'Stop doing that! Your English pronunciation is weird and annoying!!' But they don't say that anymore, thanks to continuous shadowing practice!!
As transcripts for shadowing, comprehensible and very easy ones are good to do for the first time.
Enjoy your pronunciation practice :)