48 answers

My Son Can't Pronounce the Letter L Well. Is It Normal?

My son started speaking English quite well early on. By the time most kids say 500 words he already had 1,000 in English and a few in Spanish under his belt. But just around the time he turned 3 I started to notice that even though he enunciated clearly most words, he still had trouble with the ones that contained an L. English words are usually short so it was only when he started using longer Spanish words more often that I realized that he had this problem. He's now 3.5 and I think this issue is hindering his progress in Spanish because he gets tangled in sentences of 3 words if there's an L somewhere.

I did some research some time ago and they were mentioning kids having difficulties with letters like K,R but nobody mentioned the letter L.

Does anyone know of other kids having the same problem? Is it relatively normal... or should I bring it to the attention of his Pediatrician?

Thanking you in advance for your answers,

L.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Guess what? He simply didn't know where to put his tongue to pronounce the "L" sound well! Just after practicing a couple of those exercises some of you recommended I've seen a huge change! What used to sound like W is now a soft sounding "L" in 100% of the words! What a dramatic change!
Thank you sooo much!
L.

Featured Answers

L.,
Most kids I know have trouble with the letter L. They pronounce as a Y, or vice versa. My son could not say yes, he would say Les. However, my nieces and nephews would say yittle instead of little. It's a common problem and it will just go away. One day they will just get it. No worries. =)

He is 3 1/2 and can speak two languages? That is incredible. Most kids misprononce sounds till Kindergarten. If he is still having a problem they will help him with speech.

Though many kids can pronounce the L sound at his age, it is normal to not have this sound until after 4. If you can understand him at least 75% of the time, he is within normal range.

More Answers

My son has a tough time getting words that begin with the letter L out, but he knows that he will stutter his "L" words, so he stutters it at first and then I always ask him "say it one more time" and its fine. And my son is 5. Give him some time, be patient with him when he speaks, and its ok to ask them to repeat themselves, nine out of ten times they will repeat the words without stuttering. I suggest doing some word rhymes with the letter L and mix it up in english and spanish, focus only on L words but like 5 a day and for short intervals

My son (who is now 23, and speaks perfectly) also had problems with "L", he went to school in Manalapan, and speech teacher called it "glottal L", apparently quite common, Tom Brokaw also has this. It really just required concentration and practice. He went to speech class for a short time and problem resolved. Hope this helps.
DC

Hi L.,

As a child I too had a problem with my L's. I also had a problem with sh,ch,and s in general. I had what was called a lazy tongue. I had speech therapy for several years, and it did help. Do you notice it more when he is tired? I still have it sometimes when I am very tired. But, speech therapy may help. Or, you could have him try fun tongue twisters with the letter L in them. He may get flustered at first, but make it fun for him. Do not make it a chore, and do not show disapointment when he does not do it correctly. He will eventually learn how to roll his tongue properly. I hope I helped. Sincerely, K. PS I am now a teacher. Age 46

Totally normal!! My son only speaks only language and could speak an L by the age of 4, the other one by the age of 5. No worries! Try to teach him to "lift his tongue" to the roof of his mouth. But I wouldn't push it till he is 4 or 5 unless it really bugs you. Good luck!

When my daughter was in 3-year-old and 4-year-old nursery school she was very vocal as well. She had difficulty with the letter C and G. I talked with her nursery school teachers about this and they assured me that she'd grow out of it. She did.

But if you are at the doctors in the near future, ask them to check it out just to allay your fears.

B.

Though many kids can pronounce the L sound at his age, it is normal to not have this sound until after 4. If you can understand him at least 75% of the time, he is within normal range.

My son turned three in October and I have two daughters, both of whom are older, so I have been through the speech concerns. The main thing to remember is there are no speech concerns until the child is older than five. Five years old is considered a turning point (for most children) in tongue muscle control and by that time children should have "worked out the kinks." My son can currently say his "L's", but only when he uses them incorrectly. Instead of saying "music" he says "lusic", but when he says "love", it comes out "wuv." These kind of speech kinks are always based on where the letter falls in the word and in what combination the word is used in a sentence.

Two and three-letter combinations are usually the most difficult for children to master, which for us, has resulted in a comical, but not socially acceptable form of the word "firetruck." My son says the first "r", drops the "t" and second "r" and substitutes an "f"....oops. Words that begin with "br" or "tr" or "str" will totally result in a complete mess of a word for a young child.

The most important thing you can do is NEVER mispronounce your child's word back to them or others - no matter how cute it sounds. Children often believe they are saying the word correctly, which is why they are so frustrated when we do not understand them. When my son says something I cannot understand I always ask him, "Can you show me?" This usually does the trick.

My oldest daughter had extreme difficulty with "L's" and she is now a 13 year old eloquent, well-spoken articulate girl who also speaks Spanish just as beautifully!

Hi L.!

I saw your message, and have a few questions. I am a speech language pathologist, and run into this quite a bit. Is this the only sound he can not produce? If so, I would not worry too much. The "L" is one of the "Late 8" developing sounds. The reason for most of it is that the tongue does not stop growing until around age 7, and often the kids do not yet have the coordination for this movement. You can try having him imitate you, and show him where to put his tongue, but I would give it about 6 months to see if there are any changes. If not, let your pediatrician know and contact your local school district who may provide speech therapy if it is causing enough difficulty.Usually, one sound is nothing to worry about. Is he having any problems eating or swallowing? Do you understand most of what he says? You can practice with him by first trying the sound by itself (l - l - l) and then going to syllables (La, le lo, lu) and then words once he achieves each level. Hope it helps!

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