Author: British Council | Published on 1 December 2022


Tongue twisters are a great way to focus on particular sounds that learners find difficult. 

[play audio]

Three free throws. (Practises /θ/ and /f/)

A big black bug bit a big black dog on his big black nose. (Practises the vowel sound /ɪ/, /æ/ and /ʌ/) 

If two witches were watching two watches, which witch would watch which watch? (Practises /w/)  

She sells seashells by the seashore. The seashells she sells are seashells I’m sure. (Practises /s/ and /ʃ/)

Here are some more tongue twisters: 

If a dog chews shoes, whose shoes does he choose? (Practises /ʈʃ/ and /ʃ/) 

Red lorry, yellow lorry. (Practises /r/ and /l/)

I scream, you scream. We all scream for ice cream. (Practices consonant clusters like ‘scr’)

Allow learners to listen to tongue twisters several times. Get learners to start practising by ‘saying’ the tongue twister in their head. Then they can say it to themselves slowly, before speeding up.

Vowel sounds In English are listed here

/ɪ/ as in ship /ɑː/ as in bath

/e/as in egg /aɪ/ as in find

/æ/ as in apple/eɪ/ as in Spain

/ʌ/ as in cup/ɔɪ/ as in boy

/ɒ/ as in stop/aʊ/ as in cow

/ʊ/ as in book/əʊ/ as in phone

/iː/ as in tree/ɪə/ as in deer

/ɔː/ as in sport /ɛː/ as in chair

/uː/ as in root/ɜː/ as in bird

         /ə/ as in the


Cluster: A group, often of consonant sounds which are pronounced together (e.g. br, cl, ph).

Consonant: A non-vowel sound. Consonants are pronounced by stopping the air from flowing easily through the mouth (e.g. b, g, k, t, v). 

Tongue twister: A sentence or phrase which is deliberately difficult to say (e.g. She sells seashells on the seashore).

Vowel: A sound made when breath comes from the mouth without being blocked by teeth, tongue or lips.