Think of any particular pronunciation problem faced by ESL (English as a Second Language) students and probably l versus r comes to mind. It seems that a lot of people are wondering how to pronounce these two letters. Here in Japan, (and I guess in many parts of Asia and around the world) "l" and "r" is considered particularly difficult. Well, here's some help if you've been struggling with these two letters.
The letter "l" as a letter of the alphabet is pronounced "el" like elephant. Because it begins with a vowel sound it's "an l." However, for words that begin with "l" use "a" (a lion) not "an" (consonant sound). Also note that "l" is sometimes silent in words like "walk" (sounds like wok, that round-bottomed, Chinese fry pan) and "should."
The letter "r" as a letter of the alphabet is pronounced "ar" like arm. Like the letter "l," use "an," when talking about the letter "r," but "a" (a rabbit) when "r" is the beginning letter of a word.
L R Pronunciation = Warm vs. Cool
# Hold the palm of your hand about an inch or two away from your mouth. Now say the word "arm." Pay particular attention to your breath as you say the word. How does the air feel? Is it waRm? This is correct for the letter "r."
* The letter "l" is a little more tricky. Open your mouth slightly and with the tip of your tongue, touch the backs of your center top two teeth (central incisors). Your tongue should be somewhat thin rather than spread out. Now suck air into your mouth. Notice how the air feels along the sides of your tongue. How does it feel? Is it cooL? This is correct for the letter "l."
Bill Ralens writes for http://www.naruhodo-eigo.com, a website aimed at provided ESL materials to teachers of elementary-school ESL in Japan.