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How can I help my 4 year old learn to say 'L' properly....

(25 Posts)
Mo2 Mon 16-Feb-04 11:52:28

DS1 ( 4 and 2 months) was an early talker, has a fab vocabulary (asked me who the 'illustrator' of a particular storybook was yesterday...!) but simply can't (or won't) pronounce his 'l's properly...
He tends to use a 'y' sound instead, so "I Love you" becomes "I yove you".

I haven't really worried about it too much, assuming he'll grow out of it, but in the last few months I've tried to get him to say it properly - shown him how to curl his tongue to say it properly; played 'la la la' singing games; played lots of 'L' word games, etc. He CAN say it properly if he puts his mind to it, but just seems like he's got into a habit of not.

Don't know what to do - whether to be worried, to perservere and reward for correct pronounciation or what?
I didn't really want to resort to speech therapy unless absolutely necessary.

Anyone any experience?

LadyCodworth Mon 16-Feb-04 11:53:33

ask your Hv?
dont over correct deffo , I would leave it and see

oldmum Mon 16-Feb-04 11:54:36

Give him/her a lolly pop or ice cream, and as the tongue licks it get them to say L! Try it it may help, although it could get expensive and messy!

LadyCodworth Mon 16-Feb-04 11:56:08

My iece has speech delay and they do warn against correction unless there is a scheme to it as it can cause a stutter which would be miles worsse

nutcracker Mon 16-Feb-04 12:03:04

Hi Mo2, My DD (4 and 2 months also) has exactly the same problem. If a word starts with L then she will pronounce it with a Y, and if there is a L in the middle of the word then she will miss it out all together. She also does it with the letter R. I wasn't really worried about it too much as i can understand her as i am used to it, but i noticed other people couldn't. I asked my health visitor about it, and although she said she thinks it's just a phase, she has reffered her to be assessed by a speech and language therapist.
I'm not too worried really as generally her language skills are pretty good.
If he can say it properly at times then i wouldn't worry, he'll probably get better and better. My dd never says it properly and has got worse i think.

roisin Mon 16-Feb-04 13:15:11

Mo2 - 'l' is actually a very difficult sound to make, it's quite a subtle sound, and the difference between 'w', 'r', 'l' and 'y' are actually quite small.

Don't pressurise your ds1 - it will probably come in time. The main thing is to make sure he can hear the difference. So see if he can differenciate between words ... trying to come up with an example off the top of my head ...

Draw pictures illustrating 'rap' (say someone knocking on a door), 'yap' (a puppy), and 'lap' (someone with a teddy on their knee). Then say a related sentence, and see if he can pick up the correct picture.

You can also try with Roo and loo and you ... year, rear, and leer!

Slinky Mon 16-Feb-04 13:20:56

My DD2 (also 4) has a similar thing in that she struggles to pronounce "v", ie "seven" becomes "seben".

Not too worried about it as I'm sure she'll grow out of it - after chatting to the nursery staff, they also advised against correcting her as she may give up and avoid talking altogether.

No-one has a problem understanding her and she's not being held back at nursery by it.

Incidently, I used to have a problem saying "y" ie "yellow" became "lellow". I didn't attend speech therapy or anything like that, and eventually grew out of it.


Wallace Mon 16-Feb-04 13:27:22

my ds (4y 7m) has the same problem. He can say it if he really trys, but it usually comes out as "z" in words like "look", "w" in the middle of words like "yellow", and occaisionally "y".

The speech therapist said to play games that get him to use the tip of his tounge. Like trying to touch his nose with his tounge, and running his tounge along his front top teeth.
The speech therapist was very unconcerned, and said it will come in time.
There is a great website which has a list of the ages at which children can make speech sounds. I'll try to find it.

harman Mon 16-Feb-04 16:43:38

Message withdrawn

Wallace Mon 16-Feb-04 17:05:54

tounge? Of course I mean tongue!

Wallace Mon 16-Feb-04 17:13:22

Here is the speech sounds page. There are also lots of other interesting bits on children's language development if you have a look around the site.

Mo2 Mon 16-Feb-04 21:35:43

Thanks everyone! Collective Mumsnet wisdom has been reassuring as always!
Thanks too, Wallace, for that link - very interesting, and it's certainly put my mind at rest for the mo...

tigermoth Tue 17-Feb-04 07:45:03

Mo2, I wouldn't say my the l sound when I was four years old either. I remember it well. I can still hear my worried mother saying to other grown ups ' she just can't say her ls yet'.

But it wasn't a case of couldn't, it was a case of wouldn't. I used to secretly say to myself words with l. I could do it perfectly. However I had got into a habit of saying them without an l. I also liked the fact I was 'different' and also (perish the thought), that my mistake got me extra attention and all the adults worrying about me. It was a 4 year old power thing. I felt that once I said my ls correctly I would just be like every other 4 year old, so I held on to my uniqueness for as long as possible. In the end, I gradually forgot to keep up the pretence and kept letting the l sound slip out.

I'm not saying your son is like me, but I thought I'd just give you another angle on things.

Posey Tue 17-Feb-04 20:14:35

Dd was a great and early talker but couldn't do Ls either, she always did a Y sound instead. It came eventually without any intervention. Just wanted to tell you her best phrase one day as we were walking past a house being painted "yook mummy, there's a yong yeyyow yadder" Still brings a smile to my face now.

jmb1964 Tue 17-Feb-04 22:54:44

Off thread really, but our ds1 who is 6, has had trouble with his 'r' sound. We got very used to it, and I suppose I thought he might be a bit of a Jonathan Ross. Then at Christmas he suddenly learnt how to roll his 'r's, and went through a really funny phase where he replaced all his 'w' sounds with 'rrrrr'. So 'Rrrrrunce in rrroyal David's city', 'I rrrrunder if it will snow', 'I'm rrrrrurried about rrrreather' etc etc - very typical of his ordered little Aspergers mind!

nutcracker Tue 17-Feb-04 22:57:55

Like i said, my DD can't pronounce her L's either. It can be very funny though, if the L is in the middle of the word and she just misses it out.
Coming home from nursery the other day, i asked her what she had been doing, 'we were hunting around the nursery' she said. Hunting for what i said. "Cocks she said". I eventually realised that she meant Clocks.

Mo2 Sun 25-Apr-04 21:14:52

Quick update - DS1 has suddenly decided he CAN say 'L' and since about 2 weeks ago just started using it all the time in the correct way....

It's almost as if he suddenly just 'got it'...

So - panic over - and what can I say, "Kids, huh!"

Nutcracker Sun 25-Apr-04 21:28:21

Oh thats good. Hopefully my dd will just suddenly get the hang of it oo. She is still not pronoiuncing her L's or R's. I'm not too worried though as nursery are not at all worried by it and said they can understand her perfectly well.

suzywong Sun 25-Apr-04 21:30:28

my boy can't say L either, I'm not really worried as I 'm sure, and you lot have testified, that it will sort itseld out.
I have a friend who is forever sending her boys to the speech therapist, nothing better to do IMO.

Posey, that sentence about the yadder is priceless

SoupDragon Sun 25-Apr-04 21:34:20

DS2 (3) can't manage Rs yet. He swaps them for either W or L, depending ont he letter combinations I guess. My favourite is Chlistmas (I have to get him to sing a specific song to hear it!). His favourite ninja turtle is, unfortunately, Waphael

I'm hoping he'll just grow out if it.

Soapbox Sun 25-Apr-04 21:34:55

My son goes to a SALT and the way she helps with learning how to do Ls is to put some jam/marmite/choco spread at the back of the top teeth (where the tongue has to go to make the L sound) and then she gets them to lick it off.

Once they get the hang of this she gets them to try to make L sounds as they lick it off, getting them used to the tongue motion.

She also says that it is one of the hardest sounds to learn and one of the latest to come, because with a lot of letters you see the movement someone else makes when they make it and so they can copy it. But with the L sound you can not observe and copy!


suzywong Sun 25-Apr-04 21:36:56

very good point, soapbox, it is an invisible sound isn't it
(I do like the way he says ' I yuv you', though)

SoupDragon Sun 25-Apr-04 21:44:28

That's the problem I'm having with the Rrrr sound. I can't think of a way to make DS2 say it as it "looks" very similar to an L.

jodee Mon 26-Apr-04 21:25:44

Soapbox, I might have to try that - ds (4.1) has a real problem with L too, which is a a shame as he can't say his name properly. If a word begins L he says it as a Y, if L is in the middle of a word he says it as a D (eg yellow becomes yeddow).

carla Mon 26-Apr-04 21:29:14

I have same prob with dd2 - and I love it. He'll grow out of it soon enough. In the meantime, I'm learning to love all her idiosyncrancies. She'll grow out of them soon enough

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