Tongue twisters are a fun way to learn English pronunciation. If you’re looking for ways to practice your American English pronunciation that takes you away from coursework for a bit, these are some of our favorites that will help sharpen your skills while you also get a good laugh! Tongue twisters help us to focus on each separate sound and syllable of specific words in the English language, and once we’ve heard ourselves stumble over the same sounds or pronunciation sequences, then we know what needs more work than other parts of pronunciation we may have better mastery of.
For even more fun, practice tongue twisters with others in the process of reducing foreign accents and get a giggle from each other’s twister adeptness!
Sally sells seashells by the seashore: This is an old favorite that gets even longtime native speakers stumbling. Slow it down to begin, and see how fast you can get Sally to the seashore after your fifth or sixth go at it!
Freshly-fried flying fish: This one is especially good practice for those whose native language makes little to no use of the letter ‘L’ or that confuses the lettere ‘L’ and ‘R.’
Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches?: A great tongue twister for pronunciation students working through issues with pronunciation of the letter ‘S’ to hone his or her skills.
Rubber baby buggy bumpers: The more you say this one, the better you’ll get at it. Classically English, and an old tongue twister that really helps with words that begin with ‘B’ to help really hone the sense of the difference between the ‘B’ and ‘V’ sound.
I’m not the pheasant plucker, I’m the pheasant plucker’s son,And I’m only plucking pheasants till the pheasant pluckers come: Great tongue twister to practice the difference between the /ph/ and /f/ sounds created by the difference between ‘p’ and ‘ph’ in English.
A tongue twister is often thought of as a fun way to pass the time, but they really are very beneficial for pronunciation practice, especially for nonnative English speakers. Plus, many of them include classically American imagery and idioms, which help to round out both the linguistic and cultural perspectives.