There’s nothing like an expert tongue twister to challenge your language skills! In this article, you’ll learn how to use tongue twisters to improve your pronunciation in any language you’re learning. This is brought to you by our friends at Magoosh.
Tongue twisters, as you probably know, are silly poems that use very similar sounds. They’re especially popular with children, who delight in the challenge of speaking them clearly. Many famous American picture books, like Fox in Socks, thrill kids of all ages with tongue twisters that are hard (but fun) to read out loud.
Many other tongue twisters in the English speaking world are simply part of the culture. Well-known tongue twisters include sentences like, “She sells seashells down by the seashore,” and, “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”
You can also use tongue twisters to boost your skills with a second language. Indeed, every language from Spanish to Vietnamese has tongue twisters of various difficulties. Do you want to know what it takes to become an expert tongue twister in your language of choice? Read on to find out!
Simple Tongue Twisters in English for Beginners
Children like to recite these poems for fun, but they can serve a very real use for people studying English as a second language. For example, the tongue twister above about selling seashells could be especially useful to ESL students, because it contrasts the similar “s” and “sh” sounds in English.
Tongue twisters can be used to help your child pronounce certain sounds that are challenging for them. Their memory skills will also be boosted when they try to recall these tricky phrases. Learning how to pay close attention to the nuances of speech can be used in public speaking, and even singing, later in life.
The classic tongue twister about Peter Piper is a great way to practice English vowels; it puts different sounding vowels between similar-sounding consonants. It also combines vowels with “r,” a vowel-consonant combo that’s common in English but rare in a lot of other languages. These simple tongue twisters in English for beginners can boost your child’s engagement with the language.
Using Tongue Twisters for Other Languages
Tongue twisters aren’t just for learning English vowels and consonants – they can help you master the vowels and consonants of any language. Korean tongue twisters are world-renowned for their ability to trip up even the most skilled linguists. There are also plenty of fun ones to learn as a beginner!
Korean tongue twisters typically focus on consonant repetition and vowel contrast. Korean tongue twisters also frequently contrast two similar sounding family names. This is very useful for students who are learning Korean, because Korean family names are universally one-syllable, and often differ in just one vowel or consonant.
Here’s a good example of a Korean tongue twister, with an English translation and phonetic transliteration:
Korean tongue twister:
“간장공장 공장장은 강 공장장이고, 된장 공장 공장장은 장 공장장이다.”
“The owner of the soy sauce factory is named Gang and the owner of the soybean paste factory is named Jang.”
Gan-jang gong-jang gong-jang jang-eun gang gong-jang-jang i-go dwayn-jang gong-jang gong-jang jang-eun Jang gong-jang-jang i-da.
Want to practice these Korean tongue twisters with a teacher? Find your Korean tutor today!
Other tongue twisters can cover features more specific than vowels or consonants – features that may not exist in all languages. For instance, tonal languages can have tone-based tongue twisters where the pitch of the syllables change, but the consonants and vowels remain virtually the same. Highly tonal languages include Mandarin Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Hmong. Here’s a particularly good tongue twister for practicing tonal speech in Hmong:
Hmong tongue twister:
“Lub luv luj luj lug lawm.“
“The big car already came.”
Phonetic transliteration (without the actual tones):
Loo loo loo loo loo la-oo.
Here’s a video tutorial with proper tonal reading of the sentence.
Those were just a few examples of beginner and expert tongue twisters. On the web, you can find tongue twisters in just about any language you’d like to study, focusing on nearly any kind of sound you need to practice. Use these twisters to challenge your tongue and take your pronunciation skills to the next level.
Two of the best international tongue twister portals found on the web are the ones from Omniglot’s world language encyclopedia and the 1st International Collection of Tongue Twisters on Uebersetzung Translation Service’s website. If you’re taking language lessons, be sure to also ask your tutor about language-learning tongue twisters.
By far, the best way to master these expert tongue twisters is to work one-on-one with a language tutor. Online lessons make it possible to practice your conversational skills and perfect your pronunciation from the comfort of home. TakeLessons makes it easy to stay connected with your language teacher from anywhere in the world. Find your tutor today!
Do you have any other favorite tongue twisters you’d like to share?
Let us know in the comments below!