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!