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Tongue Twisters - Virelangues

By Katie Collom 01-10-2019



5 Tongue Twisters to Help You Master French Pronunciation

Perfecting an excellent French accent can be one of the most difficult parts of the language learning process to master. Sometimes learners can be hesitant when it comes to practicing with native speakers because they fear they may be mocked for a bad accent or a lack of comprehension. As a result, being able to achieve great pronunciation can be something of a challenge. Thankfully, there are plenty of other options out there such as language exchanges which can make practicing your French a safe and enjoyable experience. But how would you like to be able to practice anytime, anywhere, regardless of whether or not you have someone to practice with? If so, French tongue twisters or les virelangues are the way to go! Begin your journey towards excellent French pronunciation with these 5 fun French tongue twisters:

1. Je suis ce que je suis, et si je suis ce que je suis, qu’est-ce que je suis ?

English Translation :  I am what I am, and if I am what I am, what am I?

The difficulty most people face with this twister is differentiating the words suis, si, and ce. Make sure you have a clear understanding of how each of these words can change the meaning of a sentence, paying particular attention to the pronunciation of suis and si as these two words can start to sound quite similar!

2. Cinq chiens chassent six chats.

English Translation : 5 dogs hunt five cats.

This may be a short twister, but it’s definitely something of a trial! When practicing this one your focus should lie with the ss sound like with the word cinq and the shhh sound in the word chassent. It will definitely help you to pronounce these sounds much more clearly!

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3. Cinq gros rats grillent dans la grosse graisse grasse.

English Translation : 5 large rats grill in the big, fatty fat.

Most native English speakers have quite a bit of trouble when it comes to pronouncing the notorious French r, which is where this particular virelangues comes in handy. You’ll have the chance to practice your r paired with several different vowel combos!

4. Si mon tonton tond ton tonton, ton tonton sera tondu.

English Translation : If my uncle shaves your uncle, your uncle will be shaven.

The challenge in this one is using tontonton, and tond which are all pronounced identically in French. Since these are repeated so much in this twister, you’ll have to keep track of the different meanings of the words you’re saying even though they may sound alike!

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5. Ces six saucissons-secs-ci sont si secs qu’on ne sait si s’en sont.

English Translation: These six dried sausages are so dry that we don’t know if they are.

This is probably by far the most difficult and advanced tongue twister on this list and will certainly give your tongue quite the workout! As with #2, this twister also focuses mainly on the ss sound, making it quite a challenge to get through without getting tied up in knots!

Although it is possible to practice these tongue twisters on your own, it’s also important to develop your ear by listening to native speakers say them as well. Check out videos online to help hone your listening skills and record yourself so you can compare how you speak and see how much you’re improving! And don’t forget that you can’t conquer a language solely through self-study, you’ll need to sign up for some excellent language classes and try out free online placement tests to really solidify your skills. With the right language foundation you’ll be free to try your hand at these funky twisters all the while improving your French pronunciation!