Chinese Tongue Twisters for Beginners

Posted by Lilian Li on 17/07/2016 7:11 PM 1541

learn Chinese tongue twister

“The thirty-three thieves thought that they thrilled the throne throughout Thursday.” “Peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, a peck of pickled peppers peter piper picked...” Looks familiar? Or does it trigger your childhood memory of reciting the English tongue twisters? Actually, we can find the same kind of tongue twister in every language, Chinese is no exception. The idea is to gain fluency and to be able to differentiate the sounds by reading the tongue twisters, which proves to be helpful for beginners.

At the beginner stage, these groups of initials and finals are found more difficult to pronounce than the others: s - sh, j - q - x, an - ian - uan, etc. And let’s not forget the ultimate challenge for foreign learners: tones. These Chinese tongue twisters can be very helpful for both adult and young children who want to learn Mandarin Chinese and practice enunciation in the beginning stages of studying Chinese.

1. ‘ s - sh’:

三山屹四水,四水绕三山;三山四水春常在,四水三山四时春。
Sān shān yì sì shuǐ, sì shuǐ rào sān shān, sān shān sì shuǐ chūn cháng zài, sì shuǐ sān shān sì shí chūn.

2. ‘ s - sh ’ + tones:

石狮寺前有四十四个石狮子,寺前树上结了四十四个涩柿子,四十四个石狮子不吃四十四个涩柿子,四十四个涩柿子倒吃四十四个石狮子。
shí shī sì qián yǒu sì shí sì gè shí shī zi, sì qián shù shàng jié le sì shí sì gè sè shì zǐ, sì shí sì gè shí shī zǐ bú chī sì shí sì gè sè shì zi, sì shí sì ge sè shì zi dào chī sì shí sì gè shí shī zǐ 。

3. ‘q - j - z ’:

七加一,再减一,加完减完等于几?七加一,再减一,加完减完还是七。
qī jiā yī, zài jiǎn yī, jiā wán jiǎn wán děng yú jǐ? Qī jiā yī, zài jiǎn yī, jiā wán jiǎn wán hái shi qī.

4. ‘ ian - an - ang - eng ’

扁担长,板凳宽,扁担没有板凳宽,板凳没有扁担长。扁担绑在板凳上,板凳不让扁担绑在板凳上。
biǎn dān zhǎng, bǎn dèng kuān, biǎn dān méi yǒu bǎn dèng kuān, bǎn dèng méi yǒu biǎn dān zhǎng. biǎn dān bǎng zài bǎn dèng shàng, bǎn dèng bú ràng biǎn dān bǎng zài bǎn dèng shàng.

Feeling frustrated with these? Don’t worry, even for native Chinese speakers, tongue twisters asks for specific ability and is a big challenge. So when you are learning a new tongue twister, start slowly and pronounce every word as clear as possible until you fully master the correct pronunciation. You may want to speak the sentence one syllable at a time, and repeat back after each syllable to ensure you have the correct pronunciation and tone. After the first few times, you can then challenge yourself to memorize the tongue twister and try to increase the speed. This is where the fun begins! Still don’t know how to read it ? Let our teachers help you!

About The Author

Lilian Li

Lilian has a master’s degree in linguistics and didactics from Rennes University in France. An expert in linguistics and educational psychology, she has taught Chinese as a foreign language for several years, primarily in France. Her classes follow a logical and thorough path to ensure students build a methodology of learning that will continue to help them improve their language ability. She likes jogging, swimming, partying, and hang out with friends! Learn Chinese online with Lilian Li >>

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