This is a great and frequently asked question from a subscriber: “Is it necessary to touch your tongue to the back of your top teeth? Sorry for asking so many questions! :)”
I love questions…keep them coming!
Some native speakers will make this sound in different places. For instance, I typically make the L between my teeth. Where I grew up, we didn’t use an L at the end of a word, so of course, we didn’t touch our teeth.
My lessons are geared to be easy to follow. I teach the most “idealized” pronunciation. Variations occur, especially depending on the sounds before and after the L.
Which lead to the follow up question: “Thanks! And, for general North American speech, if you say a word, for example “girlfriend” does your tongue have to touch the back of your top teeth in order to make the “l” sound for “girl”?”
Again, there are acceptable variations. However, I recommend that my ESL clients DO touch the back of the top teeth for L. It is especially important to remember to touch the back of your top teeth when L is at the end of a word (like in girl). When clients don’t do this the L then sounds like an O.