One of the best ways to practice your Chinese pronunciation is to learn some Chinese tongue twisters. Not only will it help you to pronounce individual words, it will also help with comprehension, increase your vocabulary and most importantly, help you to perfect those Chinese tones!
If you search on the web there are lots of websites with lists of Chinese tongue twisters. One of the best places to search is on YouTube as you will be able to hear as well as read the tongue twisters. Being able to hear the words pronounced properly will definitely be able to help you perfect your recital! It’s important if you want to be able to impress the locals in China. Another reason to search YouTube for tongue twister videos are for the really bad attempts at saying them! Some of them had me laughing out loud.
1. sì shì sì
sì shì sì, shí shì shí, shísì shì shísì, sìshí shì sìshí;
shéi bǎ shísì shuō “shíshì”, jiù dǎ tā shísì,
shéi bǎ sìshí shuō “shìshí”, jiù dǎ tā sìshí.
Four is four, ten is ten, fourteen is fourteen, forty is forty.
If anyone pronounces “shísì” as “shíshì”, hit them fourteen times.
If anyone pronounces “sìshí” as “shìshí”, hit them forty times.
2. chī pútáo
chī pútáo tǔ pútáo pí ér,
bù chī pútáo bù tǔ pútáo pí ér.
chī pútáo bù tǔ pútáo pí ér,
bù chī pútáo dào tǔ pútáo pí ér.
Translates to gibberish pretty much:
Eat grapes throw out their skins
don’t eat grapes don’t throw out their skins.
Eat grapes don’t throw out their skins,
don’t eat grapes throw out their skins.
An extended version of the very famous sì shì sì tongue twister. Very clear so a great video if you want to practice your pronunciation.
This video shows American Katara attempting to take on both of the twisters that I’ve listed above and then give us an old English tongue twister classic. Great to see a wàigúorén taking these on!
This last video is so cute! Here a local Chinese girl helps us to pronounce the two Chinese tongue twisters above and then throws an extra one in for good luck. It’s hard not to watch this video and smile.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these and had a go at saying them yourself!