‘l’ is a long noisy sound that is made with the tongue tip up behind the top teeth. This sound typically develops around 4 years of age. It is normal for children to replace ‘l’ sounds with ‘w’ or ‘y’ sounds up until they are 5. For example, a child might say “weg” for leg or “yike” for like.
You can help your child produce ‘l’ by trying the following strategies:
- encourage your child to put their tongue behind their top teeth, hold their tongue there and say their ‘l’ sound.
- using a mirror for your child to see the correct placement
- using hand gesture to cue you child to place their tongue up and behind the top teeth position
- saying your ‘l’ sound with a smile to avoid making the ‘w’ sound
- if your child is unable to say the ‘l’ sound, focus on modelling, repeating, and emphasising words containing ‘l’ (e.g. low, love, leg)
- give lots of specific praise for trying the sound – e.g. “great ‘l’ sound”, “you said ‘l’ with your tongue up behind your teeth!”
Activity ideas for practicing ‘l’:
- find objects around the house that have the ‘l’ sound like leaf, light, ladder
- pretend to be a singer, singing ‘lalala’ songs
- talk about things you like and things you don’t like
- using playdough to make long shapes like a long sausage, a long snake, etc.
It will take time and practice for children to develop their speech sounds. Children may be able to say a sound on its own but will take time to put it into words. Longer words will be trickier. It will take time and practice to be able to say their new sound in everyday conversation.
Some words are more complex because they have harder sounds, multiple sounds or different combinations of sounds. ‘l’ clusters such as ‘sl’, ‘fl’, ‘gl’, ‘tr’, ‘pl’, and ‘kl’ (e.g. “clock” ) are even trickier and will take time to learn.