If you’re a speech-language pathologist looking for a quick list of initial and final l target words to practice during speech therapy, make sure to bookmark this post. SLPs will also find helpful tips for making articulation therapy more fun with a variety of engaging games, resources, and speech therapy activities for teaching the l sound. At the bottom of this post, lists of initial l, medial l, final l words, and l blends are provided, as well as a variety of strategies for teaching the correct placement of the l sound.
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Correct Production of L
The l sound is classified as a liquid sound. It is a voiced lingua-alveolar sound.
Tongue placement differs slightly depending on which type of l you are making.
If l occurs at the beginning of a word, it is called a ‘light l‘. An example of this would be ‘lime’. To produce a light l, the tongue tip touches the small bump behind the upper front teeth known as the alveolar ridge. The side of their tongue should allow the air to escape laterally. The light l is considered an alveolar sound.
If l occurs in the final position of words, as a syllabic, or before a consonant, it is known as a ‘dark l’. Examples of this would be ‘fall’ or ‘bottle’. The tongue tip is still raised toward the alveolar ridge, but the back of the tongue is also raised toward the velum.
References: Bauman-Waengler, J.A. Articulatory and Phonological Impairments: A Clinical Focus. Third ed., Pearson Education Limited, 2013.
Shriberg, Lawrence D. & Kent, Raymond D. Clinical Phonetics: Third ed. Pearson Education Inc. 2003
Common L Sound Errors
Children with speech sound disorders may make the following substitutions for the L sound:
- w for l (for example, a student might say “woah” for “low”)
- r for l (for example, a student might say “right” for “light”)
- “oh” or a vowel-like sound for the dark l (for example, a student might say “bah-o” for “ball”)
How To Teach the L Sound in Speech Therapy
Speech Therapy Suggestions
A great way to start articulation therapy is to give the l sound a fun name, such as “the singing sound” (la, la, la).
The next step would be to explain what the alveolar ridge is to a student.
Older students can be told, “The tip of your tongue should be at home [aka the alveolar ridge]”.
It is often helpful to provide a tactile cue. This might be as simple as tapping to remind of lingua-aveolar placement.
Many errors involving the initial l involve a w for l substitution. When a liquid sound (such as the l sound) is substituted for a glide (such as w), this is a phonological process known as gliding. Minimal pairs may be very beneficial in this case. Telling the student to “smile” and “freeze” will help keep the lips from rounding to say w.
Occasionally, speech-language pathologists may also need to address r vs l substitutions in therapy sessions. For example, a student might say ‘right’ for ‘light’. Use simple reminders for lingual placement, such as pointing to the alveolar ridge, or using a hand model to show bunched or retroflex r positioning. In fact, one research study indicated that treating R first can lead to a generalized L.
Sometimes, students say an ‘o’ (or a vowel-like sound) in place of the final l sound. They need to remember to make tongue tip contact with the alveolar ridge.
Speech pathologists might also try to have the student add a schwa (ball-uh), then slowly fade it using a whisper technique, in order to elicit final l.
Speech Sound Word Lists for the L Sound
The following word lists contain words with the initial l sound, medial l sound, and final l sound. These articulation word lists allow the SLP to easily work on a target sound in speech therapy at the word level. Or, have your student think of an extra word or two to create short phrases for practice. Quickly pull these word lists up during your speech therapy session and pair them with the game or activity of your choice.
Initial L Word List for Speech Therapy
Here is a list of l words in the initial position to use in speech therapy (initial position of the l sound):
- Los Angeles
Medial L Word List for Speech Therapy
Here is a list of l in the medial position of words to use in speech therapy (l in the medial position of a word):
Final L Word List for Speech Therapy
Here is a list of l in the final position of words to use in speech therapy (l in the final positions of words):
- high school
L Blends Word Lists for Speech Therapy
Here is a list of initial l blends to use in speech therapy:
Initial BL Words
Initial FL Words
Initial GL Words
Initial KL Words
Initial PL Words
Initial SL Words
Speech Therapy Activities for the L Sound
Are you a school speech therapist looking for some great activities to work on your student’s articulation skills? I’ll share some of my favorite go-to articulation activities that can be used for targeting this speech sound in your therapy room- as well as a couple of fun worksheets!
Hint: get ready to go to the “speech salon”! It’s manicure time!
Initial L and Final L Picture Cards for Speech Therapy
A school speech therapist has a non-stop day and needs hands-on, effective materials to use in therapy. These initial l and final l articulation picture cards are wonderful because they provide a speech sound mouth placement visual cue. They are also easy to send home for at-home practice. Family members can easily review the articulation l words as a carryover activity to work on their child’s speech. These practice words are practical and a great way to get started with targeting the l sound in initial, medial, and final word positions.
These articulation cards are perfect to print & laminate for therapy use- or a speech therapist might print them out in B&W to send home with students to practice and color.
Play dough Articulation Activity
This play dough articulation activity targets a variety of speech sounds at the word level. Have fun practicing the l sound while creating “speech therapy manicures“! This resource will be a HIT in your speech therapy room! It is SUCH a fun way to work on articulation!
The manicure activity is easy to set up and use during therapy sessions.
You will want to print, laminate, and cut out each task card.
You will then select which target speech sound to work on.
Your student can select a favorite color of play doh to pair with the articulation task card selected. Just like at a real salon, it’s fun to have different colors of play dough available for this activity, since you are doing a “manicure”.
Your students won’t even realize all of the hard work they’re doing in therapy. Before you know it, you will have easily elicited 20-30 minutes of practice on the target speech sound! The articulation manicure activity is available in my speech therapy store on TpT.
Fun Articulation Worksheets
These articulation tic tac toe worksheets are perfect to pair with a dot marker or a magnetic wand and chips! Each page is low ink, no prep, and provides pictures along with text to support your readers and non-readers.
A variety of speech sounds are included, such as the l sound. These speech therapy worksheets are ideal for individual therapy or small-group speech and language therapy.
These articulation worksheets are fun, quick, and easy! Magnetic wands and dot markers are always rewarding for students to use in speech therapy.
Fun Articulation Game Ideas
These fan-favorite board games aren’t technically for articulation- but they work perfectly for ANY sort of speech sound drill practice.
Whenever I play games in speech therapy, I like to choose ones that are quick, rewarding and don’t require batteries.
Here is a list of my favorite games for speech therapy:
- Crocodile dentist– this game is a favorite because it’s QUICK- simply say a word and push down a tooth! Don’t get bit (but be dramatic if you do!)
- Pop Up Pirate– this game is also a fun and easy game to use in therapy- simply practice a target word, then push a sword into the barrel and hope the pirate doesn’t pop!
- Don’t Break the Ice– this game requires some set-up, but the positive is that it doesn’t require any batteries!
- I Spy Dig In Game– this one is a lot of fun and provides the perfect “brain break” in between working on articulation words- plus, you can easily target language objectives (such as describing and following directions) with this game as well!
- Spot It– this is a classic fun and quick card game- say a target speech sound, quickly flip two cards over, and be the first one to “spot” the matching pictures! This game is really handy because it’s small and can be transported in a therapy bag easily.
- Hoyle 6 in 1 Fun Pack– my absolute favorite “simple” game in this card deck is Flap Jack. You simply pass out the cards, then take turns flipping them over until someone dishes out a moquito! Be the first to slap the mosquito to win the round! After a mosquito is pulled, we practice 5-10 target words with our target articulation sound.
Check here for a full list of my favorite games to use in speech therapy.
Fun Articulation Therapy Ideas
Sometimes, it’s fun to switch things up! We all get bored from time to time. When we’re bored, it’s almost a guarantee that our students are bored too!
Here are a few easy- but fun- ideas to try during articulation therapy.
- Hide mini articulation objects in theraputty. Your student will have fun digging through the stretchy putty to find the objects.
- Hide articulation cards in a sensory bin.
- Pair target articulation words with yoga stretches!
- Go on a scavenger hunt around the school and look for items with the target articulation sound.
- Play “Simon Says” with l words.
- Play ‘musical chairs’ in group therapy- but instead of chairs, write articulation words on large pieces of construction paper.
- Tear up paper! Younger students could create a picture, perhaps of a tree, using paper strands. SLPs can write target articulation practice words on the paper.
More Articulation Word Lists for Speech Pathologists
Do you need more handy articulation word lists to use during your therapy session? How about some easy-to-implement ideas? Luckily, there are several more articulation blog posts available covering highly targeted speech sounds! Make sure to bookmark these articulation word lists so you can use them while on the go during a busy school day.