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Chinese Tongue Twisters, Can You Say Them All?

Tongue twisters are a challenge, no matter how old you are or how proficient you are in a Language and if you're a language nut, like us, then they're great fun and an amazing way to structure language retention. They are made from words that sound very similar and when combined together become difficult to pronounce, especially at speed - hence tongue twisters. Chinese tongue twisters have the added element of tones, which makes them even more fun to learn! 

Tongue twisters have a multitude of benefits, helping to strengthen the muscles involved in speech, which can improve pronunciation and train the brain to differentiate between the sounds. Whether you are using tongue twisters to learn new words, practise vocabulary or simply impress friends, we have listed our six favourite ones for you to use. 

1. Four Is Four

This tongue twister is renowned for its difficulty. Although the vocabulary itself is simple and can be used to help children learn numbers, the “shi” and “si” sounds are easy to mix up and therefore require practice. As the tongue moves from behind the teeth, to a curled up position, you may find that your mouth tires after repeating this tongue twister a few times! However, keep trying! 

Not only is this tongue twister good for pronunciation, but it also helps language learners differentiate between the second and fourth tone in mandarin. 

2. Eat Grapes

Who knew that grapes are not only a delicious, healthy snack but also a phonetic challenge! This tongue twister may not make much sense, but helps to improve pronunciation of the “ch”, “p” and “t” sounds. It also introduces the third tone, which will help to train your ears to another important component of the Chinese language. 

3. If You Know, Say You Know?

A tongue twister with a good life lesson! The key takeaway from this tongue twister is not just its moral, that you should always be honest about your knowledge, but the ability to confidently pronounce the “zhi”, “j” and “shi” sounds at speed. Slightly longer than the other tongue twisters, we recommend learning this one once you have a few under your belt

4. Mama Rides a Horse

Short and sweet, this is one of the simplest tongue twisters to learn! With just three lines, it is one of the easiest to commit to memory, and therefore, a good one to start with for young children. The “ma” sound is often one of the first sounds to be spoken by young children and introduced to non-native speakers. Therefore, having a good foundational understanding of its pronunciation will stand you in good stead for learning more complicated vocabulary in the future. 

5. Pot and Bottle

This tongue twister can be hard to wrap your head around. What is hitting what? With “ping”, “peng”, “pen”, you may find yourself soon in a muddle, but with practice, you will be able to confidently pronounce words beginning with the “p”  sound and which have a variety of endings, including “en”, “eng” and “ing”. What’s more, you will be able to dazzle people with your new skill!

6. Flip-flops

This tongue twister is deceptively hard. It may be only one sentence long, but we guarantee you will be tripping up over your own words and left in knots. Therefore we have left it last, for only the bravest to attempt. It encompasses all four tones, and includes challenges such as being able to pronounce  “chu” and “qu” correctly, all at once

We hope that you have had a lot of fun learning these tongue twisters! Remember, practice makes perfect!


If you are interested in learning more about the Chinese language, see our education and childcare options here: