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Tongue Twisters from around the world

by Niamh on Jan 14, 2020
Tongue Twisters from around the world
When learning a language it is always fun to learn tongue twisters. Tongue twisters can also be a great tool to help you perfect your language skills. They also aim to perfect your speed and clarity. Tongue-twisters are phrases or terms that are very complicated to pronounce (and, therefore, they “tie” the tongue of the person who tries to express it). They use words that require the same muscle movement to pronounce them which causes peoples tongues to get tied.

It seems the brain momentarily loses coordination and control of the mouth. Did you know that tongue twisters have existed for centuries and were used by the ancient greeks? They often have repeating sounds such as “sh“, “p” or “b”. Usually tongue-twisters do not make sense. Fun fact: tongue twisters are often used as a warm-up by actors and politicians. Listening to them during their warum-up period can be really funny!

How to Practice Pronunciation with Tongue-Twisters

  • Repeat, repeat, repeat – With tongue twisters, repetition is key. You will struggle at first to say the tongue-twisters but with practice you will gradually get better.
  • Focus on articulation – People often try to say them as quickly as possible which can be very fun. However, if you want to improve your pronunciation you should focus more on articulating each word rather than focusing on speed.
  • Use a mirror –  Stand in front of a mirror and look at where your mouth is positioned while saying certain words.

Tongue Twister Activities to do with your Host Kids during your Au Pair stay 

  • Make a list of tongue-twisters. Then sit in a circle.The first person says the tongue twister once. The next person has to say it twice, the third person three times and so on.
  • Keep going until someone’s tongue gets twisted.
  • To make it harder why not try saying the tongue twisters with your tongue sticking out. 
Why not use this fun game to teach your Host Kids tongue-twisters in your native language:
  • Write a tongue twister on a piece of paper. 
  • Get your Host Kids to say the tongue twister slowly first and then slowly increase the speed.
  • See who can say it the fastest or as fast as you! 
Not sure which tongue twister to use? Here's a collection from all over the world:

English

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He would chuck, he would, as much as he could.
 
Here, you get to practice the w sound, as well as the ch sound again in “woodchuck could chuck
Some  vocabulary you may not be familiar with
Woodchuck — a groundhog
Chuck — to throw
 
Betty bought some butter, 
but the butter was bitter,
so Betty bought some better butter
to make the bitter butter better.
 
She sells seashells by the seashore,
The shells she sells are seashells, I'm sure.
So if she sells seashells on the seashore,
Then I'm sure she sells seashore shells.
 
This tongue twister is actually based on a song which was written about a real seashell seller in the 18th century called Mary Anning.

Swedish

Sju undersköna sjuksköterskor sköter sju sjösjuka sjömän på det sjunkande skeppet Shanghai.
Seven beautiful nurses take care of seven seasick sailors on the sinking ship Shanghai.
 
Sju sjösjuka sjömän sköttes av sju sköna sjuksköterskor.
Mom pack daddy’s suitcase
 
Sju sjösjuka sjömän på skeppet Shanghai sköljde sju skjortor i sjön.
Seven seasick seamen on the ship 'Shanghai' washed seven shirts in the sea.

German

Auf den sieben Robbenklippen sitzen sieben Robbensippen, die sich in die Rippen stippen, bis sie von den Klippen kippen.
Seven seal tribes sit on the seven seal cliffs, poking each other in the ribs until they topple off the cliffs.
 
Wenn Fliegen hinter Fliegen fliegen, fliegen Fliegen hinter Fliegen her.
If flies fly behind flies, then flies fly after flies.
 
Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut und Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid.
A red cabbage is always a red cabbage, and a wedding dress is always a wedding dress.

Spanish

Tres tristes tigres tragan trigo en un trigal.
Three sad tigers swallow wheat in a wheat field.
 
Mi mamá me mima mucho.
My mom spoils me alot.
 
Pepe Peña pela papa, pica piña, pita un pito, pica piña, pela papa, Pepe Peña.
Pepe Peña peels potatoes, cuts pineapple, blows a whistle, cuts pineapple, peels potatoes, Pepe Peña.

French

Combien ces six saucissons-ci et ces six saucisses-ci ?
C’est six sous ces six saucissons-ci et six sous ces six saucisses-ci aussi !
How much are these six little sausages and these six sausages?
These six little sausages are six cents, and these six sausages are also six cents!
 
Cinq chiens chassent six chats.
Five dogs hunt five cats.
 
Cinq gros rats grillent dans la grosse graisse grasse.
Five large rats grill in the big, fatty fat.

Italian

Apelle figlio di Apollo
Fece una palla di pelle di pollo
Tutti i pesci vennero a galla
Per vedere la palla di pelle di pollo
Fatta da Apelle figlio di Apollo.

Apelle son of Apollo
made a chicken skin ball
All the fish came to the surface
To see the chicken skin ball
Made by Apelle son of Apollo.

Sopra la panca la capra campa,
sotto la panca la capra crepa.
Above the bench the goat lives,
under the bench the goat dies.
 
Do you know some tongue-twisters in your native language that you would like to share? Leave a comment here!
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