Teaching tips

Tongue twisters

Hi everyone,

I am so happy to see you again! This week I suggest we work together on your speaking skills and more particularly on pronunciation. A famous and very entertaining exercise is the use of tongue twisters. Let’s have a closer look at them, understand how to use them and practise a bit in several languages!

What are tongue twisters?
Tongue twisters (Trabalenguas (Es) – Virelangues (Fr)) are usually words or sentences that are difficult to say because they are made of a combination of similar sounds and syllables. Some of them are so challenging they can trip up the tongues of even the native speakers. Undoubtedly motivating and fun to learn a foreign language, they are often used in the classroom by both teachers and learners. In addition to that, tongue twisters also have a very practical application as they can be used as a tool to treat speech problems in speech therapy.

2. How can we use them?

Tongue twisters are universal for all ages and users, which makes them ideal for reinforcing newly acquired speaking skills as they provide a variety of opportunities to practice language goals. They can help you identify incorrect productions, you can use them to reinforce rhyming, synonyms, antonyms and homonyms. Lastly, you can practice the rhythm of speech which will eventually lead to acquiring more fluency in the target language.

If you are not familiar with tongue twisters, let me give you some tips before you start using them:

  • Take your time and start slowly.
  • Make sure the start and end of each word is neat and clear.
  • Repeat the words, getting faster and faster while maintaining clarity.
  • If you stumble on particular words, stop, breathe and start all over again.
  • Tongue twisters can be used to help you pronounce targeted sounds or emphasise on individual phonemes. For instance, if you are a Spanish speaker, you may struggle with the pronunciation of the affricate consonant /ʤ/ in English. The following exercise can really be effective: Try repeating the following sentences several times and focus on the articulation of the /ʤ/ sound:

James just jostled Jean gently.

Jack the jailbird jacked a jeep.

If you are a French speaker, the following exercise may help you with the pronunciation of the phoneme »th »which can be pronounced /ð/ or /θ/:

The thirty-three thieves thought that they thrilled the throne throughout Thursday.

This one is a bit tricky as it sometimes includes the sound /r/ following the /θ/ sound.

3. Examples of International tongue twisters

If you are currently learning French, here is a series of famous tongue twisters which will help you progress with your French accent:

Je veux et j’exige d’exquises excuses du juge. Du juge, j’exige et je veux d’exquises excuses.

Ces saucissons-ci sont si secs qu’on ne sait si c’en sont !

Les chaussettes de l’archiduchesse sont-elles sèches, archi sèches?

Fruits frais, fruits frits, fruits cuits, fruits crus

If you are learning English, try the following ones:

A big black bug bit a big black bear and the big black bear bled blood on the big black bugbear.

A big pink pig

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, a peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, how many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?

Three witches watch three Swatch watches. Which witch watches which Swatch watch?

She sells seashells by the sea shore. The shells she sells are surely seashells. So, if she sells shells on the seashore, I’m sure she sells seashore shells.

And to conclude, practise some Spanish with these famous trabalenguas:
El perro de San Roque no tiene rabo porque Ramón Ramírez se lo ha cortado.

El cielo está enladrillado. ¿Quién lo desenladrillará? El desenladrillador que lo desenladrille, buen desenladrillador será.

Una largartija roja debajo de une hoja roja en jardin de Guadalajara.

Cuando como poco coco, poco coco compro. Cuando compro poco coco, poco coco como.

That’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed this exercise. See you next week and in the meantime, have fun learning!

Have fun learning!

Miss Learning