Lateral Approximant Consonant Sounds

Lateral approximant consonant sounds are made by releasing air past the sides of the tongue whilst making a block in the middle. English pronunciation has one lateral approximant phoneme:

A very common variation (allophone) of /l/ is also found in standard pronunciation: [ɫ]. It is made in the same way at the front of the mouth, though the tongue is also raised at the back of the mouth:

Clear vs Dark l

In pronunciation teaching, the two ‘l’ sounds above are often referred to as ‘Clear l’ for the alveolar sound and ‘Dark l’ for the alveolar and velar sound. 

Lateral Approximant Spellings

The lateral approximant sound in English is always spelt with ‘l’:

like
allow
fall