Tongue twisters can be a welcome addition to a TEFL pronunciation lesson. It may seem a little ‘evil’ to give the suffering students sentences that even natives struggle with but it actually serves as good practice. Most tongue twisters revolve around the mass use of 2 sounds; if one of those sounds just happens to be one of the problem areas for your students then it makes sense to use it.
Adding the fun element
When introducing a tongue twister make it fun and light-hearted. Perhaps ask them to offer tongue twisters in their own language and you try to pronounce them. Let them laugh at you before they attempt your tongue twisters.
As we mentioned earlier, Germans often have an issue with /th/ so why not use:
The thirty three thieves thought they thrilled the throne throughout Thursday.
Japanese have a major issue with /r/ and /l/ because they just don’t have anything like them in their own language, and so struggle to hear the difference. Try:
Red lorry – yellow lorry – red lorry – yellow lorry.
Spanish have problems producing /sh/ and it often is pronounced as just /s/. A perfect tongue twister is:
She sells sea shells on the sea shore.
Other useful tongue twisters:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
Betty and Bob brought back blue balloons for the big bazaar.
Chip shops stock chips.
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Mr See owned a saw.Mr Soar owned a see-saw. See’s saw sawed Soar’s see-sawbefore Soar saw See.