Difference between L and R Sounds

Today’s question is from a Japanese speaker:   “I confuse the ‘L’ and ‘R’. What am I doing wrong?”

This is a very common problem for Japanese ESL speakers. Typically, this problem is due to confusion with the tongue placement.

Here is what I suggest:

  • For the “L”, place the tip of your tongue behind your top teeth. Your mouth will be slightly open. The air moves around the sides of your tongue out of your mouth.
  • For the “R”, place the tip of your tongue behind your bottom teeth. Your mouth will be open with your lips rounded. The air moves over your tongue and out of your mouth.

Try using the suggestions above on these words:

  • “long”-“wrong”
  • “lace”-“race”
  • “light”-“right”

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