L Sound

Light L & Dark L

(tall, like, English)

English Pronunciation, Lesson 27

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The L sound can be difficult to learn for some English language learners. That's because there are actually two L sounds in English: the light L sound and the velar (or dark) L sound. In this lesson, you will learn how to make both L sounds and practice pronunciation with exercises.

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Click Here for the American Accent Audio Course.

The voiced L sound (IPA symbol: ɭ ) can be found in American English words such as pulllike, circle, light, help, clean, English, language, and milk.

There are actually two L sounds in English:
  • light L sound (like, language, clean)

  • velar L sound (help, circle, pull)

    The velar L is also called the dark L sound
    . For the rest of this lesson, we will call it the dark L sound. 

    The dark L sound can be represented by the symbol ɫ. However, most dictionaries represent both sounds with the same symbol / ɭ / . That confuses many language learners because there are two L sounds in English.

Letter L

How to pronounce the L sounds

The best way to learn these sounds is to see and hear someone make these sounds. Watch the following video from Rachel's English to see how to make the two L sounds.



Review

Light L sound

If the L sound comes BEFORE the vowel or diphthong in a syllable, it will be a light L sound.

    Remember:

    vowels = a, e, i, o, u

    diphthong = two vowel sounds together

When you make the light L sound, the tip of your tongue will rise up and press against the back of your top teeth. The light L sound is a voiced sound, so your vocal cords will make the sound.

The light L sound is usually found at the beginning of a word.

Let's practice:
  • like

  • lip

  • laugh

  • long

  • lay

  • less

  • large

  • long

  • low

  • learn

  • flag

  • slap

  • black

  • blog


Dark L sound

If the L sound comes AFTER the vowel or diphthong in a syllable, it will be a velar or dark L sound.

    Remember:

    vowels = a, e, i, o, u

    diphthong = two vowel sounds together

The dark L sound is really two sounds: a vowel sound + the L sound. After making the vowel sound, the tip of your tongue will rise up and press against the back of your top teeth in the same way as the light L sound. The dark L sound is a voiced sound, so your vocal cords will make the sound.

The dark L sound is often found in the middle or at the end of a word.

Let's practice:
  • circle

  • pull

  • milk

  • help

  • whole

  • tall

  • pool

  • ball

  • fall

  • will

  • all

  • tall

  • girl

  • call

  • puddle

  • real

  • deal

  • detail

  • e-mail

  • family

Now say these sentences out loud.
 
The light L sound is in blue. The dark L sound is in red:


1) I like to learn languages.

2) Lisa loves Larry a lot.

3) That is a long blog about learning.

4) It is a really good deal.

5) The small ball fell in the cool pool.

6) Call the tall girl.

7) Please leave the whole glass of milk on the table.

8) Look at the realllittle flag.

9) I will list all of the final details in my letter.

10) Please send the last e-mail to my family.


The L sound is not difficult if you practice! Keep up the good work!

Click Here for the American Accent Audio Course.


Let's move on...

List of Lessons

Lesson 01: International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

Lesson 02: Word Stress and Syllables

Lesson 03: Long E sound (meet, see)

Lesson 04: Short I Sound (sit, hit)

Lesson 05: UH Sound (put, foot)

Lesson 06: OO Sound (moon, blue)

Lesson 07: Short E sound (pen, bed)

Lesson 08: Schwa Sound (the, about)

Lesson 09: UR Sound (turn, learn)

Lesson 10: OH Sound (four, store)

Lesson 11: Short A Sound (cat, fat)

Lesson 12: UH Sound (but, luck)

Lesson 13: Soft A Sound (arm, father)

Lesson 14: Long O Sound (boat, know)

Lesson 15: Long A Sound (say, pain, make)

Lesson 16: Short O Sound (not, off, socks)

Lesson 17: Diphthong (a combination of two vowel sounds)

Lesson 18: P Sound (cup, punch, pull) and B sound (cub, bunch, bull)

Lesson 19: The Nasal Sounds (M, N, NG)

Lesson 20: F Sound (four, lift, graph, tough) and V Sound (love, knives, grave, vine)

Lesson 21: W Sound (wow, quit, where)

Lesson 22: R Sound (red, sorry, write)

Lesson 23: H Sound (he, behind, who)

Lesson 24: T Sound (top, it, later) and D Sound (do, had, made)

Lesson 25: S Sound (sit, box, cats) and Z Sound (zip, buzz, boys)

Lesson 26: K Sound (kid, talk, black) and G Sound (go, big, dog)

Lesson 27: L Sound: Light L & Dark L (tall, like, English)

Lesson 28: Y Consonant Sound (yes, you, beyond)

Lesson 29: CH Sound (China, century, watch) and J Sound (Germany, educate , judge)

Lesson 30: TH Consonant Sounds – voiced TH sound (the, father, them) and voiceless (unvoiced) TH sound (think, birthday, south)

Lesson 31: SH (shop, chef, special) and ZH (usual, massage, Asia)

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