Teach L & R

I teach L and R to 4 and 5 years olds during speech therapy! For some, this may sound a bit crazy, but stick with me for a second.

In 2018, McLeod, S. & Crowe, K. completed a cross-linguistic review of 27 languages, and it completely changed my articulation therapy and goal writing, especially for /l/ and /r/ (for the better). 

teach l and r

Before 2018, I worked in schools and would wait until 1st or 2nd grade to teach L and R.

Even without the research to back feelings, I knew this was way too late. My students really struggled to make any progress and ended up in therapy for YEARS!

So, when this study came out and said children should be able to say /l/ by 4 and /r/ by 5 years of age, I was ecstatic! I had the research to back up my desire to work on these sounds MUCH earlier.

To read more about this study and the new standards for all sounds, please click here.

Is it possible to teach L and R so early?

My answer is YES!!!

Anecdotal Evidence

In my private practice, I do a lot of articulation therapy. Since 2018, I have work on /l/ with 4 years olds and /r/ with 5 year olds. 

I'm happy to report that many (if not all) are able to master these sounds in a timely, stress-free manner.

I used to dread /l/ because it was also so tough for my 1st and 2nd grade students. Now that I work on /l/ with 4 year olds, they learn it very quickly!

Same goes for /r/! Most 5 year old children learn it with such ease!

Scientific Evidence!

I'm happy to report that there is scientific evidence now to back up my anecdotal evidence.

According to the article Krueger, B. I., & Storkel, H. L. (2022). The impact of age on the treatment of late-acquired sounds in children with speech sound disorders. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699206.2022.2093130 , 4 and 5 year olds can and do make comparable progress on /l/ and /r/ when compared with older children!


Teach L and R Materials

Since I work on /l/ and /r/ with younger students, I did need to update my materials to meet the needs of my younger students. 

At Speech Therapy Talk Membership, I have many materials available:

1. Cue Cards

I like to start with cue cards when introducing and working on sounds. I'm partial to my animation cards. 

2. Caregiver/Teacher Handouts

To make sure everyone is on the same page when I teach L and R, I hand out "how to say sounds" and "cue sheets" as needed.

3. Drill Materials

There are L and R drill materials in print and no-print forms. 

I give the printable flashcards for home practice and use the interactive and/or no-print flashcards during therapy. 

I don't like the clutter of cards in my work space!

4. Gliding Materials

For some students, you may need to target the phonological error pattern of gliding.

You can use printable worksheets or web-based materials to identify first/last sounds (differentiating between /l/ and /w/ or /r/ and /w/, fill in missing sounds, etc...

5. New Valentine's Day Game!

There is a new Valentine's day game that targets /l/, yeah!

Look between 2 pictures and spot the differences. All the differences will have /l/ in the initial, medial, and final word position. It is a quick, fun way to target /l/ in either words or phrases. 

Access ALL these Materials!

If you would like to access ALL these materials and 3,000+ more, please check out:

Quick Reference: Articulation Chart

For those who need it, here is a reference chart of the updated age of acquisition for all sounds.



2-3 Years

P, B, M, T, D, N, H, T, K, G, W, NG, F, Y

4 Years

L, J, CH, SH, S, V, Z

5 Years

R, ZH, TH (voiced)

6 Years

TH (voiceless)

How To Use This Chart:

  • Find the age of your child on the left.
  • Next, scan across the row to the intelligibility column. Intelligibility indicates how much others understand your child.  For example, a 3-year-old may not be saying all sounds correctly; however, listeners can still understand 90% of his utterances.   
  • The next column indicates which sounds 75-85% of children are able to say correctly by the age in the corresponding row.

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