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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Jae here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Korean questions.
The question for this lesson is…
How do you pronounce the consonant ㄹ[rieul] (r/l)?
In Korean, the “l” and “r” sounds come from the same underlying consonant ㄹ. If you put your tongue in between making an “l” and making an “r,” you’re almost there. The question is, when does it sound more like “r” or more like “l?”
If the consonant ㄹ[rieul] is between two vowels, then it’ll usually have the English “r” sound. However, if it’s at the beginning or end of the word, or precedes a consonant, it’ll have more of an English “l” sound.
Let’s break it down with some examples so you can clearly hear how to pronounce the consonant ㄹ[rieul].
Let’s take the word 라디오[la-di-o] which means “radio.” In this word, the consonant ㄹ[rieul] is at the beginning of the word, so it’ll have an “l” sound.
Let’s do another example with the word 미래 [mi-rae], meaning “future.” Here, the ㄹ[rieul] consonant is between the vowelsㅣ[i] andㅐ[ae], so it’ll have more of an “r” sound. Let’s say it together. 미래 [mi-rae].
Let’s do one more example with the “l” pronunciation. We’ll use the word, 말[mal], which means “word” or “language.” The ㄹ[rieul] consonant is at the end of the word, so it’ll be pronounced as “l.” Let’s say it together. 말[mal].
Remember that in English, some “l” sounds are hard, like the l’s in “ball.” In “ball,” you put some tension in the back of your mouth to make it stronger. In Korean, the “l” sound is much lighter, without any tension. ...so remembering where NOT to put the tension, especially at the end of words, will be really helpful for sounding more natural in Korean.
How was this lesson? Pretty interesting, right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
See you next time. 다음 시간에 만나요. (Daeum-sigane mannayo.)