EL Competition 2022: LR problem, by NAKAMURA Genki

When learning English, you may come across pronunciations that are difficult for Japanese people. If our understanding of them is vague, we often face communication problems and gaps.
Speaking of pronunciation problems, the biggest one is the difference in pronunciation between “l” and “r”. Distinguishing between these two sounds is a very difficult task for Japanese people who do not usually use their tongue to pronounce words. In Japanese junior high school English classes, we are often taught to pronounce “l” with the tip of the tongue touching the base of the front teeth and “r” with the tip of the tongue does not touch the mouth. It’s easy to understand when you hear it, but it’s hard to actually try it. I think this is the impression many people have, including myself. I have an experience that I felt embarrassed because I was not able to distinguish these pronunciations.
When I was in junior high school, I was chatting with my ALT and the topic of food came up. When I started talking about rice, the ALT frowned and explained that “lice” is a disgusting insect and that he doesn’t want to hear this word when talking about food. It was the first time that I realized how big the impact of the difference between “l” and “r” is. Since this incident, I have become sensitive to the difference between “l” and “r”.
There are many kinds of miscommunication caused by “l” and “r” around us. For example, “light” means something that shines, and “right” means the qualification to do something. Of course, they are often distinguishable from the context, but Japanese people need to make an effort to pronounce these two sounds correctly in order to communicate correctly.