She sells sea shells by the sea shore. How fast can you say it without making a mistake? Your students can listen to tongue twisters and then record themselves saying them here on LearnEnglish Kids: http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/tongue-twisters
Note you can download all the tongue twisters from LearnEnglish kids here on TeachingEnglish.
Using tongue twisters in class is a fun and challenging way of providing pronunciation practice. Tongue twisters don’t always make sense but your students will enjoy trying to say them and learning about this quirky part of traditional English-speaking culture. Here are some ideas for using tongue twisters on LearnEnglish Kids with your learners.
Listen and speak
You could focus on listening and speaking before looking at the written form. Play or say the tongue twister then tell your students that they are going to repeat the sentence bit by bit after you. Start by asking your students to repeat the last part of the sentence and building up to the full tongue twister like this:
Teacher: sea shore
Students: sea shore
Teacher: by the sea shore
Students: by the sea shore
Teacher: sea shells by the sea shore
Students: sea shells by the sea shore
Teacher: She sells sea shells by the sea shore
Students: She sells sea shells by the sea shore
Have your class repeat the whole tongue twister slowly and then more quickly after the version on LearnEnglish kids. Find the above chant here: http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/tongue-twisters/she-sells-...
Now have students work in pairs to take turns repeating the tongue twister as fast as possible without mistakes. This isn’t easy of course and you could demonstrate this to the class by trying to say it quickly and correctly yourself. Get the students to count how many consecutive error free versions you can say.
When they feel confident, your learners can record themselves saying the sentence by just clicking on the red button underneath the tongue twister. Do this as a whole class, in pairs or individually depending on how many computers you have. Have them see how fast they can say it without making mistakes!
Listen, write and speak
How about getting your students to listen to a tongue twister and then put the words in the correct order? You could display your chosen tongue twister on the board with the words written randomly inside a fluffy cloud shape. Ask students to identify which letters are repeated most frequently. Can they tell you how the words containing these letters are pronounced? You could explain any new words if students insist and you could also point out that, as tongue twisters don’t really make sense, they don’t need to understand every word.
You can also create, and display on the IWB, a word cloud made from your chosen tongue twister. Go to: http://www.wordle.net/ then just type in the tongue twister and click on 'create'. You can then manipulate the font, layout, colour and size as you like. The example below is - If two witches were watching two watches, which witch would watch which watch? – which you can find here: http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/tongue-twisters/two-witches
Drill and practise the sentence with the class as above and when the students are ready have them record themselves by clicking on the red button underneath the tongue twister.
Disappearing tongue twister
Choose a tongue twister. You could show the list to your class (http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/tongue-twisters) and have a student select one. Listen to the tongue twister and practise it as a class then write up the sentence on the board, for example:
A tricky frisky snake with sixty super scaly stripes.
Now rub out a couple of words and replace them with lines, for example:
A tricky frisky ______with sixty super scaly _______.
Ask the class to say the complete tongue twister, then remove another word, for example:
A tricky frisky ______with ______super scaly _______.
Continue like this until there are no words left! Your learners can now practise repeating the tongue twister as quickly as possible. They can take turns doing this in pairs before they record themselves by clicking on the red button underneath the tongue twister.
Make your own tongue twister
This is an idea that adapted from 'Young learners' by Sarah Philips.
Decide which sounds you want to practice with the class and chose a tongue twister using these sounds.
- Use - A big black bug bit a big black dog on his big black nose. (http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/tongue-twisters/big-black-bug ) to practise the /b/ sound.
- Use - If you want to buy, buy, if you don't want to buy, bye bye! (http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/node/2486) to practice the vowel sound in buy and bye.
Practise the chosen tongue twister using one of the suggestions above then write up the sentence on the board and underline one example of the sound you want to focus on, e.g. If you want to buy, buy, if you don't want to buy, bye bye! Have the students identify other examples of the sound in the tongue twister and underline them - If you want to buy, buy, if you don't want to buy, bye bye! Elicit (or feed in) more examples of word with the same sound – high, sky, pie, lie, try – and make a list on the board. Now work as a class to substitute some of the original words with some from your list, e.g. If you want to buy, buy pie, if you don't want to buy, bye bye lie lie! Remember it doesn’t have to make sense as it’s a tongue twister! Students work in pairs to create different versions using the example on the board as a model. Have the pairs read out their new tongue twisters for the class to practise.
Do you need help deciding which English sounds your students need to practise? You can find a simple guide to common pronunciation problems for speakers of different languages here:
You might want to use the phonemic chart in class to model sounds for your learners or just use it to check your own pronunciation. There’s an interactive phonemic chart here: http://www.britishcouncil.org/parents-help-pronunciation.htm
You and your students can check the spelling and listen to the pronunciation of words here: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/ Type in the word, then click on the definition to hear the word and see how the sounds are represented in phonemic script.
You might want to remind your students that part of the fun of tongue twisters is getting them wrong so it doesn’t matter if you make lots of mistakes. Just have fun!
When you have used some of these ideas, why not come back to this page and leave a comment below to tell us how your class went. We’d love to know if you have any additional ideas!
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