How to help your child correctly pronounce the letter “L”.
When Should Your Child Say the L Sound?
The average age children tend to learn the /L/ sound is four.
How to Make the /L/ Sound
We make speech sounds using our jaw, tongue, lips, voice, lungs, (and sometimes nose). Articulation of the “L” sound resonates from the placement of the tongue. A ridge is located behind the front teeth and on the roof of the mouth. To make the “L” sound, you place the tip of your tongue to the top of the mouth. Turn the mouth on, and allow the air to flow around your tongue. That’s it!
Once you have the tongue placement, you also need to make sure there aren’t any other movements, like lip rounding, that get in the way of a clear “l” sound.
If you need a little extra help, YouTube offers some great tutorial videos to help your child learn how to create the “L” sound https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmdNEn5P5-0
Making the /L/ sound While Speaking
As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect! Or, more accurately, Perfect Practice Makes Perfect. To perfect something, you must repeatedly do it. The same rule applies to speaking and learning how to sound out the “L” sound. To say it correctly, you need to make the correct /L/ sound a habit, then bring it into a conversation.
Add syllables to the new sound, such as
• La La
After you include syllables to the sound, you want to experiment with the sound. Add it to various vowels. You also want to say words that start with “L” (Lady) or have an “L” in the middle (Silly).
Next, practice this new sound in syllables, like “la la la” “lee” “Lie” “Low”
This is often the trickiest part because when we are talking, the tongue is in the “L” position for a split second before the next sound is made. Your child has had years of practicing the wrong placement for /L/. It is challenging (but not impossible!) to learn the motor movements for the correct way to make the /L/ sound.
After words, work up to phrases, sentences, reading, then stories and conversation.
Articulation Therapy is fun!
Make a game out of it!
Use your tongue to hold a cheerio (or other food) in the “L spot”.
When eating ice cream or a lollipop, practice saying the word “lick”
Go on a scavenger hunt looking for words that have the /L/ sound
Include written words to help foster your child’s literacy skills.
/L/ is a very tricky sound – many kids don’t learn /L/ until age 4. If your child is struggling, then they probably need a specialized technique to learn /L/. Contact a Speech Pathologist near you for help. (Look here for recommended speech therapy practices)
Spending too much time practicing the sound incorrectly, or with too much frustration can cause more problems than help, so contact an expert. Some children do best with a unique sequence of steps – as the vowels or other neighboring sounds can help or hurt their ability to make the /L/ sound.