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How to Teach the 'L' Sound - featured December 15, 2011

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Guest Blog: How to Teach the SH Sound

By: Heidi Hanks
Copyright 2010. Reprinted with the express permission of the author as it appeared on her blog Mommy Speech Therapy

II have had several requests on how to teach the /l/ sound so I put some thoughts together and wanted to share them with you!

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 worksheets page.

3 sets of word cards to help teach the L sound:
1. l-initial words.pdf
2. l-medial words.pdf
3. l-final words.pdf

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!




Our Featured Guest Blog/Author: Heidi Hanks of 'Mommy Speech Therapy'

Thanks to Heidi and MommySpeechTherapy.com for sharing her blog post with us. Please support our contributors and visit MommySpeechTherapy.com

About Heidi and 'Mommy Speech Therapy':
My name is Heidi Hanks and I’ve been a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist since 2000. I am also the mother of three wonderful kids, Sam (8), Sophie (5) and our little red-headed tornado Sawyer (2). They are my sweet little ones. I have enjoyed every minute of watching them learn, and discover their world.

One of my favorite parts of being a mom is hearing them say their first words and getting some insight into what goes on in their little heads. I’m sure my fascination with their language development is in part because I am a Speech-Language Pathologist, but becoming a mother has also magnified my desire to give them every opportunity to learn and grow.

The reason I named this blog “Mommy Speech Therapy” is because as parents we have the greatest impact on our children’s language development. No one can make a bigger difference than you!

My goal is to share some tips and techniques I have learned over the years in working with my clients and my own kids, and hopefully give you the information you need to be successful in helping your little ones become the very best communicators they can be.

My Education and Experience

I went to school at Utah State University where I completed both my Bachelor’s and my Master’s degrees. After I graduated in 2000 I started my first job at Kids on the Move, an early intervention program in Orem, Utah. I worked there until my first child, Sam, was one year old and then I decided it was time to spend a little more time at home with him.

I’ve been doing private therapy from my home ever since and it’s been a great transition. I love it! It gives me an opportunity to be a Mom, and still help children. It’s an adventure working with every child and my goal is to continue to learn more and improve my skills as a Speech Therapist so that I can see more of these kids progress and grow in their language development.

My hope is that you will find some helpful information on this site and that you might share this blog with other parents that would find this information helpful as well.

Tags: Articulation SLP Newsletter 16 December 2011