Three Steps for Teaching the /l/ Sound
1. To teach the /l/ sound place the tongue tip on the alveolar ridge (the ridge behind the front teeth). To help your child do this touch your child’s alveolar ridge with your finger or a lollipop. Then ask your child to place his tongue tip there.
2. Then with his tongue tip in place ask him to relax and then let air flow out the sides of his tongue.
3. Now to make it sound like an /l/ all he has to do is make the sound “loud” by turning on his voice.
1. Teaching the Tongue Tip to Go Up On the Alveolar Ridge
If he has difficulty getting his tongue tip in the right place you could practice by having him lick peanut butter with his tonge from behind his front teeth. Or you might try having him hold a cheerio up behind his front teeth with his tongue tip. You may also try stimulaing the tongue tip with an electric toothbrush and then stimulating the alveloar ridge with an electric toothbrush as well, then tell him to touch the two surfaces together.
2. Teaching the Air to Flow Out the Sides of the Tongue
If he has difficulty with air flowing out the sides of his tongue, with his tongue tip in place on the alveolar ridge have him breathe in so he can feel the cool air going over the sides of his tongue. Have him follow this exercise by then breathing out letting the air escape out over the sides of his tongue. Another way of teaching this lateral air flow (air escaping out the sides of the tongue) is to place a straw in the front of his mouth (not between the lips) and have him blow air into it, then place two straws on either side of the mouth and have him try to blow air into it.
3. Turning on the Voice
If understanding how to “turn on his voice” is the problem have him place his hand over his voice box and feel how it vibrates when he makes loud sounds and quiet whispered sounds.
Another Way to Teach the /l/ Sound
If your child can produce a good voiced TH sound as in “this” or “that” then you can teach the /l/ sound by shaping it from the Th sound. For example, have your child say TH all by itself and then pull the tongue back to the alveolar ridge while still producing voice and you will have a nice /l/ sound.
Move the /l/ Sound Into Syllables
Once your child can produce a good /l/ sound all by itself it is time to move it into syllables. For example practice saying, “la, lo, lee, lai, lay, loo, lu” or “all, ale, eel, I’ll, ‘ol” or “allo, ella, illu, ollo, ulla”
Move the /l/ Sound Into Words
If your child can say the syllables above with a nice /l/ sound then he is ready to move them into words. Below are 3 links to download picture cards of words beginning with the /l/ sound, ending with the /l/ sound or with /l/ occuring in the middle. You can also download these and other sound cards on the downloads page.
Move the /l/ Sound Into Sentences
If your child can say the /l/ sound in the beginning of words then practice the initial /l/sound in sentences. For example “Lucy loves learning about _________.” Fill in the blank with the initial /l/ words you have been practicing, “Lucy loves learning about lemons, or Lucy loves learning about lions…”
If your child can say the /l/ sound at the end of words then practice the the final /l/ sound in sentences. For example, “Paul will call _________.” Again filling in the blank with the final /l/ words you practiced.
If your child can say the /l/ sound well in the middle of words then practice the medial /l/ in sentences. For example, “Bella follows the elephant to __________.”
Move the /l/ Sound into Stories
Have your child practice the /l/ sound while reading out loud. If your child cannot read have your child practice the /l/ sound while retelling short stories.
Move the /l/ Sound into Conversation
If your child is successful with the /l/ sound while reading aloud he is ready to move the /l/ sound into conversation. It is at this point you can correct your child if they forget to pronounce the /l/ correctly.
These suggestions should help your child move in the right direction with the production of the /l/ sound. Good luck, and remember to be patient!