Nasalized /l/ and /r/

By Pam Marshalla

Q: I have a client who makes a nasal sound for L and R. He has no other nasal problems. What can I do?

This is all a matter of ear training. This is a client who can move his velum, but he has a habit of lowering it when he makes certain sounds, in this case, L and R. In other words, the client does not have a velo-pharyngeal insufficiency or incompetency. He simply has a habit of lowering the velum when he makes L and R. I do the following with kids who have nasal production of oral sounds in the absence of true VPI:

  1. I have the clients make a vowel, like Ah, which they can do orally. I have them use a tube (RapperSnapper or vinyl tube), stretched from their mouth to their ear, to listen to the sound as it comes out the mouth. Then I repeat this with the tube held at the nose. They discover that sound can come out the mouth or the nose. They discover that Ah is made out the mouth, and not the nose.
  2. I teach them that only three sounds are nasal: M, N, and Ng. I use the tube to have them listen to these three nasal sounds as they come out the nose. They discover that these three sounds come out the nose, and that no other sounds come out the nose.
  3. Then I use the tube to help them discover that they are making L and R out the nose. They hold the tube at the nose and at the mouth, with the other end at their ear, to discover this.
  4. Then they use the tube to monitor their nose sounds while they make L or R. If they automatically switch to the nasal sound when they say L or R, they will hear this in the tube. Tell them NOT to do that, to keep it oral. They may or may not be able to control it this well.
  5. If they cannot do #4, I then have them continue to make the vowel while they lift the tongue up and down. In other words, I have them prolong their oral vowel while listening in the tube, and then continue to be oral while lifting the tongue.
  6. If they can do #5, then I have them do it again, this time lifting the tongue for L or R.
  7. I also have kids hold their noses so they can feel the pressure build up in the nose as they make M, N, and Ng. Then repeat for L and R. If they are driving L and R out the nose, the sounds will stop when the nose is pinched. I teach them NOT to do that, but to make the sound come out the mouth.

I have written more about oral resonance in these posts:

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