English Pronunciation Podcast
Free English Pronunciation and Accent Reduction Lessons
  English Pronunciation student   American accent conversation in English    English Pronunciation podcast course   

English Pronunciation Pod 67

Saturday Sept 4th, 2010
The Vowel /ɚ/ Part II - Connecting /ɚ/ to the consonant /l/
as in the words "early" and "girl."
Learn how to pronounce this challenging connection of the vowel /ɚ/ to the consonant /l/.


In this week's podcast, we're going to continue learn how to pronounce one of the most important
vowel sounds of American English- /ɚ/, as in the words "sir" and "early".

The focus of this week's podcast is:

  • Learning how to connect the vowel /ɚ/ to the consonant /l/.
  • Practicing this sound combination in some key American words, phrases.
I strongly recommend that you listen to podcast #66 before using this one. Podcast 66 explains how to
pronounce the sound /ɚ/ in full detail.
Today's lesson is more advanced and deals with /ɚ/ in a more difficult case.

The sound /ɚ/ does not exist in many other languages and is therefore one of the most difficult
sounds for English students to pronounce.

This sound is even more difficult to pronounce when it when it connects directly to the consonant /l/,
as in the words "early" or "girl." And this connection is the focus of today's podcast.


How to pronounce /ɚ/ :

Tongue: . Tongue begins flat in a neutral position. Slowly curl your tongue tip backwards so that it points
at the roof of your mouth.
Do not touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue tip.
Feel the back sides of your tongue touching your back inner gums.

Lips: Move forward a little

Jaw: Somewhat tense (a litle tension is fine.)

Exercise: Please listen and repeat /ɚ/, paying careful attention to your form:

/ɚ/ ... /ɚ/

Now let's discuss how to pronounce /l/ correctly as in the word "like" and "live."

How to pronounce /l/ :

Tongue: Extend your tongue forward. Press the tip of your tongue against the gum ridge (bump on the roof
of your mouth), exhale and vocalize.
Feel the air travel along the sides of your tongue.

Lips: neutral

Exercise: Please listen and repeat:

/la /... /la/

The Difference between /ɚ/ and /l/

Notice how the tongue postions for /ɚ/ and /l/ are very different, almost opposites.
For /ɚ/, we curl our tongue back. For / l/ we extend forward.
Always thinks of /ɚ/ as tongue tip curls back, /l/, tongue tip extends forward. Think of these contrasting and
contrary positons. If you think of it in those terms, it will help your tongue move in the right direction and position
and your pronunciation will be clear.

Physical (kinesthetic) exercise

Now were going to try an exercise which will help you connect /ɚ/ with /l/. It is a physical exercise which
will keep your tongue moving in the right way in order to combine these sounds.
I use this exercise with my private students here in New York and I've had great success doing so.

We're going to say "Earl." /ɚl/. When we say /ɚ/ we're going to curl our arms toward our chest.
When we say /l/, we're going to extend our arms away from our chest.
As you can see, our arms are moving in the same direction and manner as our tongue.

Let's break it down:

1) /ɚ/ arms curl toward our chest .

2) /l/ arms extend away from your chest.

Let your tongue move in the same manner and directions as your arms.

Exercise: Please listen and repeat, slowly moving your arms towards you on /ɚ/
and then away from you on /l/.

/ɚl/... /ɚl/

Now a bit faster:


If this physical exercise doesn't help you and actually makes things more difficult, not to worry.
It's not necessary for you to move your arms back and forth when pronouncing the sound /ɚl/.
But if this physical, kinesthetic exercise actually helps , all the better. Now you have one more method of
practicing this difficult combination of sounds.

Now let's try some words containing /ɚl/:

Exercise : Please listen and repeat the following words containing /ɚl/:

I encourage you to move your arms back in forth as we did in the previous exercise but again, it's not necessary. Do whatever works for you.

Earl... girl ... early ... pearl ... world ...

Tongue Twister:

Now let's try this phrase. It's a bit of a tongue twister, so please go slowly.

Every girl in the world loves pearls!

Mastering the /ɚ/ sound takes time and practice. As you can see, it is even more difficult when combined with other sounds such as /l/ .

But the key to mastering this sound is slow repettive practice on a daily basis. You have to repeat and repeat until you develop what's known as muscle memory- the ability to do something automatically, without thinking.
Accent reduction is a lot like physical activities such as sports, dancing or playing an instrument. You have to first do it slowly and correctly in order to do it quicly and correctly.

In other words, you need training!

The Right Training Tools for Better Pronunciation:

If you want more practice exercises like the one in this podcast and are interested in learning all of the the sounds of English, I recommend that you try my full English pronunciation course in mp3-Best Accent Training mp3s!

No matter what your first language is, Best Accent Training has the lessons you need
for speaking English clearly and correctly.

All the sounds of English in one course!

Best Accent Training mp3s contains all the sounds of English with step by step instructions and practice exercises.
You'll get all the vowels of English, all the consonants, syllable stress lessons, intonation lessons and connected speech!

Best of all, Best Accent Training is a fast and easy download that you can put on your mp3 player and take with you wherever you go!

I specifically designed it for that purpose.

Any questions, comments or suggestions ? Contact us at:   contact@englishpronunciationpod.com

Please donate to English pronunciation Pod!

Your support helps make English Pronunciation Pod free and accessible to anybody who wants to improve their accent!

Thank you and see you next time!


Tell a Friend


After practicing with Best Accent Training daily,
I can say that my English communication has improved 100%. "

- Domingo Ponce Rodriguez- - Marketing Manager USA (Spain)

Get the full accent reduction course in mp3 now


Podcast Archive

Full Pronunciation

About Us



Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Tell a Friend