Crumbs of Knowledge – Hints and Tips to Improve Your English – l/r

Making the ‘l’ and ‘r’ sound different to each other is a challenge for some.

Some people can’t even hear the difference between the 2 sounds very well; when speaking, they find it hard to make them sound different.


To make the ‘l’ sound, with your mouth open a little, it is important for the tip of your tongue to touch the top of your mouth, not touching your front teeth, but just behind them.


To make the ‘r’ sound, again start with your mouth slightly open. With the tip of your tongue in the middle of your mouth, not touching anything, pull it backwards slightly so the back of your tongue lightly touches your top back teeth on both sides. At the same time, push your lips forward, and pucker them into an ‘o’ shape.

Below are some simple examples to help train your ear, minimal pairs (two words that sound the same apart from one difference), some tongue twisters and song lyrics to practise with:

“red/led; rap/lap; rip/lip; rain/lane; rug/lug; rock/lock; reef/leaf; rice/lice; row/low; root/loot”

“Red lorry, yellow lorry, red lorry, yellow lorry, red lorry, yellow lorry.”

“Rolling red wagons, rolling red wagons, rolling red wagons.”

“Truly rural, truly rural, truly rural, truly rural.”

“Red blood, blue blood, red blood, blue blood, red blood, blue blood.”

“Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…” – (from Limp Bizkit, Rollin’).

“Big wheel keep on turnin’, Proud Mary keep on burnin’, and we’re rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river…” – (from Tina Turner, Proud Mary).

“Three wheels on my wagon, and I’m still rolling along. The Cherokees are chasing me, arrows fly right on by, and I’m singing a happy song!” – (from Dick Van Dyke, Three Wheels on my Wagon).

“Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.  So, tell me what you want, what you really, really want…” – (from Spice Girls, Wannabe).

“All aboard and we’re hitting the road, here we go, rockin’ all over the world.” – (from Status Quo, Rockin’ all over the World).

“Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, though the streams are swollen.  Keep them dogies rollin’, rawhide” (from Frankie Lane, Rawhide (theme tune to the TV program ‘Rawhide’)).

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