English pronunciation is a challenge for foreign students, especially if you’re teaching English abroad in places like China, Japan, or South Korea, where the phonetic system is completely different from English.
The student’s first language typically sets the tone for their English pronunciation. For example, in Spanish, “b” and “v” sound the same; however, both letters exist in the language. Similarly, students from China tend to have difficulty with “l” and “r.” Therefore, teachers should not overlook any pronunciation issues and devote some time at each lesson to exercise it. It is also important to have a basic understanding of your students’ native language in order to find out which areas to work on and which English tongue twisters could help.
In this article, we have gathered some of the best tongue twisters that will help your students improve their English pronunciation.
But first, we would like to share with you some tips on how to effectively implement those fun tongue twisters in your classroom as an ESL learning activity.
Here are examples of fun ESL learning activities.
Practice on your own
Try to practice the ESL tongue twisters on your own before introducing them to the class.
Start with sounds
Encourage your students first to pronounce just the sound that you are going to practice. For example, if you are going to introduce some r tongue twisters, first explain how to pronounce the “r” sound, and then practice this sound. After that, you can add the tongue twister sentences.
Write down the tongue twister
Sometimes it is not enough just to speak out any English tongue twister, because many students perceive the information visually. Writing them down on a board or handing out worksheets with the printed tongue twisters and underlined sounds would be a much better experience for your students.
Use a mirror
This will allow the students to shape their mouths correctly and to see if their tongue is in the right position. You can also draw the correct positions on the board.
Your students can compete either individually or in groups. Each of them should speak out a tongue twister without stumbling. Those who stumble are out, and those who say the twister correctly continue the game. You can level up the game by adding more complicated twisters.
And now, as promised, we will show you our list of tongue twisters.
R Tongue Twisters vs. L Tongue Twisters
As we have already mentioned, students from China and Korea have difficulties with the “r” and “l” sounds. These tongue twisters will help students from those countries to distinguish between these two sounds.
- Red lorry, yellow lorry.
- Truly rural.
- I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.
- Jerry’s jelly berries taste really rare.
- Rolling red wagons.
- Really leery, rarely Larry.
- Real rock wall.
- Robert Rolley rolled around roll around. A round roll Robert Rolley rolled around. Where’s the round roll Robert Rolley rolled around?
Th Tongue Twisters
“Th” is one of the hardest sounds in English, no matter the students’ native language. Here’s how you can practice is:
- I thought I thought of thinking of thanking you.
- He threw three free throws.
- Three thin thieves thought a thousand thoughts.
- Is this the thing? – Yes, this is the thing.
- “I can think of six thin things. And you?” “Yes, I can think of six thin things and six thick things, too.”
B Tongue Twisters vs. V Tongue Twisters
- Blue blurry vines blind.
- Blue berry is very tasty.
- Betty loves the velvet vest best.
- Barber baby bubbles and a bumblebee.
- My brother bought a bit of baking powder and baked a batch of biscuits.
V Tongue Twisters vs. W Tongue Twisters
- Wendy had vicious wishes that the worst would happen to the versed men; these vicious wishes made the versed men very wary that the worst could happen.
- We went to Wally’s volleyball event under the village’s wilted willow, with victory in mind.
Vowel Tongue Twisters
Some English vowels may be as difficult as consonants, especially those in minimal pairs like ship and sheep, so here are some tongue twisters to practice vowels:
- Annie ate eight apples.
- Joe told a joke.
- Betty Botter bought some butter, but she said “This butter’s bitter.”
- The sheep on a ship slipped on the sheet of sleet.
- Quite nice white mice.
- A black cat sat on a mat and ate a fat rat.
- All four daughters of Mrs. Crawl are tall.
- It is easy to breathe when there is a breeze.
Have You Ever Used Tongue Twisters in Class?
These are the tongue twisters in English that you can practice with your ESL class to make them feel more confident with their pronunciation. Have you ever used tongue twisters to teach English pronunciation? If you so, we want to hear about it. How did it go? What did you do?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below.