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Tongue Twisters to Practice Spanish Posted by on Jul 16, 2020 in Pronunciation

Tongue twisters are a great way to practice your pronunciation or pronunciación. These push your tongue or lengua to move in ways it might not be used to thus making certain sounds easier. In this post, I want to cover a few trabalenguas or tongue twisters that can help you improve pronunciation.

Photo taken by Joakim Erdfelt found on Flickr.com with license CC BY-SA 2.0

The sad tigers

When I think of trabalenguas, I immediately remember a page from one of my elementary school books with two very sad looking tigers. This particular one focuses on the pronunciation of tr + vowel or vocal so tra, tre, tri, etc. It is tricky because it also focuses on the pronunciation of t + vocal and if you say the tongue twister fast enough, you might get them all messed up.

Tres tristes tigres tragaban trigo en un trigal
En tres tristes trastos
Tragaban trigo tres tristes tigres

Three sad tigers ate wheat in a wheat field
With three sad plates, the three sad tigers ate wheat

Juan and a tube

Juan tuvo un tubo,
y el tubo que tuvo se le rompió,
y para recuperar el tubo que tuvo,
tuvo que comprar un tubo igual al tubo que tuvo y rompió.

Juan had a tube
and the tube he had broke
and to recuperate the tube that he had,
hee had to buy a tube the same as the tube that he had.

This trabalenguas helps differentiate the pronunciation between and v with two words that are almost the same: tubo y tuvo (from the verb tener).

Storytelling

Cuando cuentes cuentos,
cuenta cuántos cuentos cuentas;
porque si no cuentas
cuántos cuentos cuentas,
nunca sabrás cuántos
cuentos sabes contar.

When you tell stories
count how many stories you tell;
because if you don’t count
how many stories you tell,
you will never know how many
stories you can tell.

This storytelling tongue twister is Spanish language at its best! Here you see the variety of ways of storytelling as a verb and as a noun while also showing the similarities of the verbs contar as in to tell a story and contar as in to count. You can also appreciate the similarity between cuántos as in how many and cuentas as in count.

Mary and her hut

María Chuchena techaba su choza,
y un techador que por allí pasaba le dijo:
‘Maria Chuchena, ¿tú techas tu choza o techas la ajena?’
Ni techo mi choza, ni techo la ajena, que techo la choza de María Chuchena.

María Chuchena roofed her hut,
and a roofer that was passing by said:
‘María Chuchena, are you roofing your hut or are you roofing someone else’s?’
I am not roofing my hut, nor roofing someone else’s, I am roofing the hut of María Chuchena.

This tongue twister is good for your mind and for your tongue! You can practice really well the ch sound with different vowels: chuchena, choza, techaba, techador. It is also a riddle because it seems the techador walking by was mistaken and wasn’t talking to María but to someone else…right?

If you want to practice these trabalenguas and a few more, check out the video below that has tongue twisters in English and Spanish.

And if you are ready for a challenge, I found the following video with 10 tongue twisters and you have 10 seconds to say each. How many did you get right?

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About the Author: Karoly Molina

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with languages and writing. I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and a little bit of French. I am a writer, reader, language teacher, traveler, and a food lover! I now live in The Netherlands with my husband Riccardo, our cat Mona, and our dog Lisa, and the experience has been phenomenal. The Dutch culture is an exciting sometimes topsy-turvy world that I am happily exploring!


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