Pay Attention to Your Tongue!

This post is brought to you by Ken, who teaches Classes 3A and 3B:

Pay attention to your tongue!

Students often, in pronouncing words which contain “l”,  have difficulty in distinguishing between the two qualities of the  “l” sound: the “light” and the “dark.”

Tongue formation for the “dark”  L sound:

The dark l is commonly used at the end of a word or before a consonant sound. If the vowel sound right before the consonant is an “oo”  sound or an “aw”, dark  l is more likely. When you make the dark “l” sound, the tongue is more bunched up,  and the back of the tongue is raised. This is the sound you hear in the words: bell, call and fall.

bell         call          fall


Tongue formation for the “light” L sound:

light l is generally used at the beginning of a word, especially right before  certain vowel sounds: If the vowel following the L sound is a long “e” or short “i”, a  a light L is more likely to be used.

To create the “light L”  sound, the tip of the tongue is placed against the middle of the tooth ridge. The sound is created when air travels alongside the tip of the tongue, between the front of the tongue and the side teeth.

For example, practice pronouncing the following words and pay close attention to where your tongue touches the ridge behind the upper teeth:

light            listen          only


To practice the different pronunciations of the light and dark   “L”,   go to this website   and type in the  following words:


With a little luck and a lot of labor you will love the light and dark “l”!

Remember:  Pay attention to your tongue!

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