Some Fun, French Tongue Twisters (and How They’ll Help Improve Your French)
The French love les virelangues, tongue twisters that challenge even native French speakers (and certainly challenge the non-native French speakers as well!) to perfect pronunciation and speed. Try out some of these French tongue-twisters to practice particular French sounds and to impress your friends. If you know someone who speaks French as a first language, ask them to critique your pronunciation. Les virelangues are a great way to practice, memorize and rehearse the more difficult sounds of French. Finally, les virelangues they are a good way to learn French homophones (words that are pronounced the same, but mean different things).
Here are a list of several French tongue twisters, along with an idea of which French sounds they will help you practice, and accompanied by an English translation.
1. This fun tongue-twister poem will give you practice with the nasal vowels and with making a distinction in pronunciation between the vowels “ou” and “u.”
“Tonton, ton thé t’a-t-il ôté ta toux,“disait la tortue au tatou.“Mais pas du tout,” dit le tatou,“Je tousse tant que l’on m’entend de Tahiti à Tombouctou."
“Uncle, your tea has cured your cough,” said the tortoise to the armadillo. “Not at all,” said the armadillo. “I cough so much that you can hear me from Tahiti to Timbuktu."
2. One sound in French that we do not use as frequently in English is the “zh” sound (say the word “vision” aloud and listen to the “s”). In French, this sound can be represented by either a “j” or by a “g” that precedes an “i” or an “e.” This tongue-twister will help you practice this sound:
Un ange qui songeait à changer de visage se trouva soudain si changé que jamais plus ange ne songea à se change.
An angel that dreamed of changing its face suddenly found himself so changed that never again did an angel dream of changing himself.
3. These two tongue twisters will help you practice the sounds “sh” (represented by “ch” in French) and “s” (represented by “s” or “ss” here).
Un chasseur sachant chasser sait chasser sans son chien de chasse.
A hunter who knows how to hunt knows how to hunt without his hunting dog.
Ces cerises sont si sûres qu’on ne sait pas si c’en sont.
These cherries are so sour that one doesn’t know if they really are (cherries).
4. This final, fun French tongue twister will help you perfect your pronunciation of the letter “g,” particularly when it is followed by the throaty French “r.”
Dis-moi, gros gras grand grain d’orge, quand te dégrogragrangraindorgeras-tu ? Je me dégrogragrangraindorgerai quand tous les gros gras grands grains d’orge se seront dégrogragrangraindorgés.
Tell me, big, fat, long barley seed, when will you un-big-fat-and-long-barley-seed yourself?I will un-big-fat-and-long-barley-seed myself when all big, fat and long barley seeds have un-big-fat-and-long-barley-seeded.
Use these French tongue twisters to help you improve your French pronunciation, and, most of all, to have fun with the language.