What Is a Tongue Twister?
A tongue twister is a sentence that is difficult to pronounce due to similarities in the sounds of the words. Because these sounds are similar, you have to concentrate considerably in order to pronounce the sentence correctly. Tongue twisters are found in most languages and a very famous one in English is as follows: –
She sells seashells on the sea shore.
The shells she sells are seashells, I’m sure.
And if she sells seashells on the sea shore,
Then I’m sure she sells seashore shells.
Notice how this tongue twister alternates between the /s/ and /ʃ/ (sh) sounds. This makes it ideal practice for someone who struggles pronouncing and differentiating /s/ and /ʃ/.
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,
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
This is another famous tongue twister that switches between the /p/ sound and various other consonants.
Tongue twisters can be a lot of fun and are often used as word games. As well as being fun they are a great way to practise difficult sounds in English and improve pronunciation.
Think of them like lifting weights, the harder it is in the gym, the easier it is in the real world. If you can say these difficult sentences then you should have no problems with “normal” sentences!
Start by saying each one slowly and gradually build up speed until you have mastered them.
Tongue Twister List
Most of these tongue twisters alternate between two sounds. This is ideal for focusing on very specific areas.
For example if you are a native Russian speaker you may choose to focus on the V / W tongue twisters as this can be a difficult area to pronounce.
Similarly, native Japanese speakers may prefer to spend a lot of time with the R / L tongue twisters as this is a common problem area for native Japanese speakers.