Why do many Asian languages have difficulties differentiating 'l' and 'r'?

While it might have been funny (for the time), the whole issue of ‘r’ and ‘l’ is a fascinating one when it comes to learning many Asian languages.  It’s also a very important one to understand for English as a Second Language teachers who feel like they are getting nowhere when it comes to coaching the English ‘r’ and ‘l’ sounds to Asian students.

The issue actually extends to the letter ‘n’ too – and and many languages across Asia, there are interesting rules that have come about to govern the use of these sounds.  Native speakers of Thai, Thai, Lao, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Cantonese and other Southern Chinese dialects have particular issues when it comes to pronouncing the English ‘r’ and ‘l’ sounds.