There is a stereotype that Japanese, Chinese and other Asians mix up the letters R and L, and to some extent it’s true, although Japanese, Chinese and other Asian language speakers will have different problems with these letters (This blog has more ). In English we have to learn the difference between R and L and when to use them. Let’s look at the pronunciation here.

How to make the /r/ sound

Let’s start with /r/. Think about the sound that an angry dog makes – rrrr. The dog puts its head down and growls in the back of its throat rrrrr.  Like this guy, you can see teeth, but the tongue is right back.

Embed from Getty Images

How to make the /l/ sound

Now you are a singer, but you don’t know the words so you sing lllll. Your mouth is open, head up, your tongue is loose and flappy like a flag, llllll. These three have got it, just flap your tongue up and down at the front of your mouth.

Embed from Getty Images


Listen to the words and play the quiz. Click the word you hear. Click on continue for the next question. All the answers will be shown at the end.

How did you do? Listen to all the words here. 

I’m grateful to David Paul of Language Teaching Professionals for teaching me the dog and singing way to remember /r/ and /l/.

Which R and L words cause you trouble? Let me know below.

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