European Day of Languages…And Tongue Twisters
Teaching English as a Foreign Language puts me in a position to really appreciate both the diversity of languages here and the talents of students of English, many of whom speak more than two languages. And what better way to celebrate a day of languages than to try out some tongue twisters from different languages? Many of these I have gleaned from students, but most appear on the First International Collection of Tongue Twisters as well:
He threw three free throws (x5)
Red leather, yellow leather (x5)
Riba ribe grize rep (From Bosnia, “the fish bites the other fish’s tail”)
Dolar libra rubel (From Slovakia, “Dollar, pound, Rouble”)
Un chasseur sachant chasser sait chasser sans son chien de chasse. (From France, “A hunter who knows how to hunt knows how to hunt without his hunting dog”)
Strc prst skrz krk (From Slovakia, “Stick a finger through your neck”)
Saso susi osusku (From Slovakia, “The clown dries a towel”)
Láttam szőrös hörcsögöt. Éppen szörpöt szörcsögött. Ha a hörcsög szörpöt szörcsög rátörnek a hörcsög görcsök.
(From Hungary, “I saw a bearded hamster. It was lapping syrup. If a hamster is lapping syrup, it will be seized with a hamster-clamp”…okay, I can’t actually say it but I like the translation)
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (From Wales, “Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave”)
Tonarino kyaku-wa yoku kaki kuu kyaku-da. (From Japan…which is not really a European language…but interesting nonetheless, “the customer sitting next to me is eating a lot of persimmons”)
On using tongue twisters in class
Choose a few (English) tongue twisters that focus on sounds your students have problems with. Use like the game of telephone; divide the class into two teams and take one member of each into the hall. Show them the (English) tongue twister and let them practice for a few minutes and commit it to memory. When they return, each whispers it to the next person on his team, who whispers it to the following person, and so on. The last person writes it on the board (but make sure the others don’t call it out to him while he’s up there; it has to be passed from person to person).
Or, let students practice several and then choose one for each team to perform…one person after the other. If someone makes a mistake, he has to start over. Time them – how long does it take for the whole team to say it without any mistakes.