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How To Teach R and L
I begin by demonstrating the difference between the two sounds. First I introduce the ‘r’ sound. I make a growling noise like a dog and point to the letter r that I have written on the board. All my students are Japanese and familiar with the problem in imitating this sound. I ask the students to copy me and show them the sound comes from within the throat with the tongue back. Facial expression like a dog for emphasis and ‘fun.’
Next the ‘l’ sound. This is a high la la la sound. Tongue to the front and touching the front teeth and rising into the roof of the mouth. Pointing to the letter l on the board I ask the students to repeat. I swap from l to r and back asking the students to copy and checking pronunciation. I point upwards to emphasize the rising l sound.
The drill phase. Practicing minimal pairs of words written on the board e.g. frame/flame; crime/climb; right/light etc. Drill again.
Then practicing the target sounds in phrases and short sentences. Window frame; hot flame; Police! It’s a crime; climb the hill; turn right; turn on the light. These examples are illustrated by miming actions and students read from prepared handouts.
The checking phase. I target sounds and students say which word they hear by saying R or L sound. Crown/lip/lake/clown/rip/rake/lap/rap etc. I repeat after the students make their first choice pointing at the tongue’s position i.e. throat or teeth/roof of mouth and miming the words.
Finally demonstration by way of a communication activity. The students try to make as many fun sentences as they can with the R and L words already practiced. I pre-teach with a few examples on the board. “I met a clown wearing a crown. He was near a lake holding a rake.
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