One of the most difficult pronunciation issues that English language learners face is saying /l/ and /r/ correctly. For Japanese and Korean speakers, for example, these sounds can be quite hard to say in such a way that native speaker listeners can understand them easily.
This week, we’ll focus on helping you improve how you say these two sounds because they are so important to making yourself understood to listeners. In this series of activities, you will listen to yourself say /l/ and /r/ words, learn how to say them properly, and then you'll be able to listen to your improvement.
1.) First, record yourself saying these words with your phone or computer, with video if possible.
/l/ and /r/ at the beginning of the word:
/l/ and /r/ at the end or in the middle of the word:
2.) Now, watch yourself. It might feel uncomfortable, but it’s definitely worth it to see your improvement. Watch your lips. Where were they for each word? If you turn the sound off, can you tell which word you’re saying each time? Try it. Turn the sound off, watch yourself. At a random point in the video, pause the video, and try to guess which word you said.
If you don't have video and just used a voice recorder, try to write down the words that you said at some random point in the recorder. Then compare them to the list above. Did you hear them right?
3.) Now, watch the video of me saying the words. Listen to it with the volume on first and then with the volume off. Pause the video from time to time to re-watch me say a pair of words with the volume off. Can you figure out which words I’m saying? Turn the volume on, and re-watch that pair to see if you were right.
4.) Now, watch Rachel’s English video that compares how to make these two sounds:
5.) Using a mirror, or the reverse camera on your phone, watch yourself make the /l/ and /r/ sounds. Watch your lip and tongue position. Are they in the right spots for each sound?
6.) Re-record yourself saying the same list of /l/ and /r/ words. Did you notice any improvement? You probably did. If not, or if you didn’t see as much improvement as you’d like, watch the video again, and record yourself again.
7.) Watch the video of me saying the list of words again, and try to see if you can tell which words I’m saying with the volume off. How did you do this time?
Let me know how you did! Did you see any improvement? Was this activity helpful for you? Email me at Leyla@empowerenglishtutoring.com if you have any questions or comments!
Check out our video on how to pronounce the past tense of verbs and some adjectives in English. There is A LOT of new vocabulary in the video, and I give you examples on how to use most of the words. Even if you're confident in how to pronounce these verbs and adjectives, you might learn some new words by watching it.
CHALLENGE! Around the 8:30 mark in the video, there is some advanced pronunciation practice and lots of new vocabulary and adjectives in English.
SPECIAL OFFER: Email me at leyla@empowerenglishtutoring if you found the word that starts with an "r" that I didn't give a definition for in the adjective part of the video. Your email MUST include the word AND a sentence that uses the word correctly. If you're a current student, you'll get 20% off your next lesson.
Check out our short video below for how to use 3 idioms about excitement!
You probably learned how to write formally when you were in school. When email became more popular, you probably wrote formally to your work colleagues and with clients. Today, there are more and more situations where it is completely acceptable and, indeed, expected, that you write informal emails. This is especially true when you know the person you are writing to and/or have communicated by email for a while.
One way you can reduce the formality of your emails is to do something you might normally never consider doing in your writing: dropping “I,” “I’m,” “You,” and “It’s.”
For example, try:
· “Couldn’t make it to the meeting yesterday. My kid was sick.”
instead of “I could not come to the meeting yesterday as my child was ill.”
· “Not sure if she got my last email. Haven’t heard back yet.”
instead of “I’m not sure she received my last email. I have not yet received a reply.”
· “Great job in the meeting today!”
instead of “You did a great job in the meeting today!”
· “Totally fine to turn in the report Friday.”
instead of “It is fine to submit the report Friday.”
In these examples, I’ve showed you that you can also reduce the formality of your emails by changing the words you choose. For instance, use “sick” instead of “ill,” or “kid” instead of “child.” Another change you could use is “got” instead of “received.” Using more common words helps your email sound more friendly and conversational.
So why would you want to use a friendly email at all, particularly in a business or academic context? Formality in the professional and academic spheres is important, yes, especially when you’re making contact with someone for the first time. However, you come across as more approachable and open when you use friendly emails.
People like to do business and correspond with people who are more relaxed and open in many English-speaking countries. So try to cut down on using subjects like “I’m,” “I,” or “It’s” in your emails, and watch your diction (word choice) to give the impression that you are easy to work with and a friendly person.