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I'm having a hard time to make 'also' and 'all' sound correct.

My native American tutor told me my 'also' sounds like 'arso' and 'all' sounds like "or".

He says I have no trouble with making "L" and "R" sounds correct when

R and L is the first consonant of the word - for example, look, room, love, risk

But, when they come in the middle of the word or come together, for example,

also, world, squirrel, I can't make sounds correctly.

Is there any tip to make 'also' 'all' 'order' 'older' sound correct?

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    You could try this. Step 1: keep saying, "La-la-la-la-la-..."; try to make them sound like one long word instead of breaking them into one-syllable words. Step 2: blend those "La-la-la-la-..." into "lalalala..."; try to make those l's sound like they are at the end of the previous syllable and the beginning of the next at the same time. Step 3: try to blend step 2 into "al-al-al-al-..." instead. (Now you should have a good "al"!) Step 4: do the same with other vowels (such as /ɔ/, to get "all"!) -- Hope this helps a little! Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 16:34
  • @DamkerngT.- Excellent suggestions! +1 Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 19:51
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    What is your native language @InfimumMaximum? That might help us to understand your difficulty and suggestion some approaches. For example, many Japanese have difficulty with L and R because they have one sound which is half way between those two, and so if they use that, then to a native English speaker then it always sound wrong.
    – brendan
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 4:47
  • @brendan my native language is Korean. Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 14:53
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    I don't agree with what your teacher told you -- also/arso and all/or aren't typical American pronunciations. They sound like a bad parody of British cockney.
    – John Feltz
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 12:54

3 Answers 3

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L and R are approximants. you make a continuous sound, much like a vowel, and then you release it sharply to move into the the following vowel. The continuous sounds of L and R are very similar, but the sound made when you release it is quite different: for L, the tongue pulls off the alveolar ridge (the ridge behind and above your upper front teeth) and produces a much sharper sound than with the R, where the tongue was not initially in contact with the alveolar ridge.

The problem comes when you have an L or R that's not followed by a vowel, for example before another consonant or at the end of a word. The consonant is not released. For L, you get a dark l, and for American english you get a rhotic R. (British English is non-rhotic so the R is not pronounced at all except before a vowel).

With the L in also, you have to get an accurate tongue position to make the small difference between L (a lateral approximant) and R (a frontal approximant).

First, you will have probably have to deal with the South East Asian problem of not opening the mouth very wide when speaking. Take, for instance, the British English word cat or the American English word got. To produce this correctly, you need to see at least a couple of millimetres vertical gap between the top and bottom teeth, and keep the tongue well down so that it does not touch the upper back teeth at the sides. If the teeth overlap, there is not enough space to separate the tongue and back teeth, and the sound is more like ket, which almost passes for an American English cat.

To make an L sound, start form the cat position, with the lips pulled back form the teeth, about 2mm vertical gap visible between the front teeth, the sides of the back of the tongue curled down so that it does not touch the upper back teeth at the sides, place the tip of the tongue against the alveolar ridge. Now start voicing in this position. The air should be coming out overe the back of the tongue, through the back teeth and into the cheeks: if you press gently against both cheeks, the sound should falter or stop.

To make an R sound, pull the lips back from the teeth, overlap the front teeth as much as possible without letting the back teeth touch, curl the sides of the back of the tongue up so that it touches the upper back teeth, and curl the front of the tongue upwards so that it is just behind the alveolar ridge. Now start voicing. The air flow is over the front of the tongue, through the front teeth. Pressing on the cheeks has no effect, because there is no air flow there.

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Try saying "alo-so" and concentrate on the ll. Once you can say that start losing the "o" from "alo" and try to say "al-so". Mastering that will give you mastery of "all" too.

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Concentrate on the position of your tongue.

When making the 'al' sound in also, your tongue should be tensed, and the tip should touch the top of your mouth, just behind your teeth.

Whereas when pronouncing 'r', your tongue is more relaxed, pulled back in your mouth a little, and won't contact the top of your mouth.

It's hard to notice this slight difference when speaking quickly, so just practice saying 'all' and 'our' and paying attention to what your tongue does.

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