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Q: Proper way to pronounce the letter "L" ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: Proper way to pronounce the letter "L"
Category: Health > Children
Asked by: nkamom-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 15 Jan 2006 18:20 PST
Expires: 14 Feb 2006 18:20 PST
Question ID: 433804
My 4 year old pronounces her "L" like a "Y."  I want to teach her the
proper way to speak.  Can you direct me to some instructions so I can
teach her properly?
Subject: Re: Proper way to pronounce the letter "L"
Answered By: cynthia-ga on 15 Jan 2006 21:53 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi nkamom,

First, I want to assure you that your child is normal, this type of
mis-articulation is common in children learning to speak. Here's a
Speech Sound Development Chart to put your mind at ease: 

I found a web site that specifically deals with mispronunciation of
the letter "L" (as a "W") in a 4 year old child. It gives suggestions
for improving your childs speech, as well as how to make it fun for
your child. One thing I want to point out is that many web sites I
scanned while looking for the perfect ones for you, made a point to
mention NOT over-correct your child. Learning to speak is natural, and
mispronunciations are to be expected, and if you constantly correct
your child --you could make her afraid to speak! Above all, make it
fun. Model good pronunciation when you're not playing the letter
games, eventually she'll get it. She is right in the middle of the
developmental chart, everything is fine.

I went to a speech therapist as a child, I had trouble with the letter
L as well, I said it by putting my tongue on the back of my front
teeth. Also, I didn't use the TIP of my tongue, I was flattening my
tongue a bit. Try it, you'll see what I mean.

Move your tongue back from your teeth, the correct contact point is
the RIDGE/BUMP about a half inch back from the back of your front
teeth. The TIP of the tongue is supposed to contact that ridge. Also,
there are only 4 letters that are supposed to contact the same ridge:

L, T, N, & D

Try it!

Here's what I gathered for you:

Articulation of L sounds
..."Q) My son is four years old and cannot say the letter "l"; instead
"w" comes out. Can you please give me suggestions?...

..."A) It is actually okay for a four year old child to pronounce "l"
as "w". If you take a look at the Speech Sound Development Chart
[above], you will see that children have until the age of 6 to fully
master the correct production of "l".

In the meantime, you can play fun games that will help your child
learn the correct placement of the tongue for the "l" sound.
Basically, you want your child to learn that the tongue tip reaches up
and touches the skin behind the top front teeth. This is very easy for
kids to see, so it's often easy to teach. We often associate the
sounds with a name, so the "l" sound becomes the "lala" sound or the
"lollipop" sound. Whenever you talk about the sound, you can call it
by it's fun name.

You can hone your child's awareness of the correct production of the
sound by having your child listen to you as you say words with the "l"
sound. You will then say some of the words correctly and some with the
"w" sound. You want your child to learn to hear the difference. We
often use a thumbs up/thumbs down game to reinforce this activity
(thumbs up for correct "l", thumbs down for "w"). Once your child can
perceive the differences, you can then start trying to work on
improving his production. Using a mirror for visual feedback can be
very helpful. That way the child can see his own mouth. Start with
consonant-vowel sounds (lay, lee, lie, low, lou). Once your child can
say the sounds in these syllables, you can move on to words.

For more ideas on stimulating the "l" sound, as well as other sounds, please go to:

Teach Specific Sounds to Your Child ..."

Here's the Speech Sound Development Chart again, it's linked from the site above:

Strategies to Support Early Literacy Development

Letter  Sounds
..."Free educational software.  Letter Sounds helps children make the
first, vital connection between the letters of the alphabet and the
sounds they represent. Children drag pictures to the letters that make
the first sounds of the word that describes the picture. Voice is used
to be sure that children know the right word and to reinforce the
connection between the first letter and the first sound in the word.
Fun, educational hands-on learning..."

..."These activities for 3-5 year old children are suggestions and
examples of ways parents and families can support and encourage early
literacy development through play and positive interactions..."

I hope this information helps, good luck to you and your daughter!


Search terms used at Google:
"The letter L" child pronounce
letter sounds children
nkamom-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
What a great help!  Thanks.

Subject: Re: Proper way to pronounce the letter "L"
From: trijay3-ga on 15 Jan 2006 20:05 PST
I have a young friend about the same age who had the same problem. The
speech therapist just said that he had to break the habit of not
putting his tongue to the roof of his mouth when pronouncing "L"s. To
break that habit the person needs to take a lot of practice and kept
accountable to pronouncing it correctly.
Subject: Re: Proper way to pronounce the letter "L"
From: probonopublico-ga on 15 Jan 2006 22:56 PST
My elder daughter is called 'Victoria Louise' and as a toddler she had
difficulty with her second name and for some time her best efforts
sounded like Wa-lees or Wheels.

It soon sorted itself out, so it is nothing to worry about.
Subject: Re: Proper way to pronounce the letter "L"
From: stressedmum-ga on 16 Jan 2006 03:39 PST
There's heaps of information at this site:
Plus, have you tried having some fun and getting her to sing
songs/nursery rhymes using "La, la, la" rather than the lyrics? (or
show her *that* part of the [Australian] movie, Babe).
If you show her how *you* say "L" and "Y" then get her to show you how
she does it. Kids often just need to be given the idea and then she'll
probably run with it. Have fun with it at this early stage and don't
let her see you're worried about it and you just might find out that
"By George, I think she's got it!"
I'll bet that in 17 years time, at her 21st, you'll recall this
endearing, long forgotten little habit with much affection.
Subject: Re: Proper way to pronounce the letter "L"
From: richardmtl-ga on 16 Jan 2006 05:57 PST
Just a quick note: "mis"-pronunciations like this are what leads to
language change. As this is a rather common error, maybe in 100 or 300
or 500 years, "English" will have changed to accomodate what is now an

I have a BA in Linguistics, this is the kind of thing that Historical
Linguistics and Phonetics/Phonology looks at.
Subject: Re: Proper way to pronounce the letter "L"
From: pinkfreud-ga on 16 Jan 2006 10:44 PST
My cousin Philip pronounced many of his L's as if they were Y's until
he was in second grade. I can remember being embarrassed for Phil when
adults teased him about this. Folks were particularly amused when he
would pronounce the word "little" as "yitto." Phil obviously took the
teasing as praise, and I wonder if that may have caused the
mispronunciation to persist, since he thought he was pleasing people.

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