Have you ever wished you could improve your Spanish accent so others could understand you better? Spoken Spanish has 39 elemental sounds, or individual speech sounds produced by vocal organs. You can easily master these through exposure and regular practice. Without forming this habit, however, we are doomed to repeat pronunciation mistakes for the rest of our lives! How can we sharpen our speaking skills, even if we only have five extra minutes a day? The answer lies in the power of Spanish tongue twisters, or trabalenguas.
*To see the tongue twisters, scroll to the bottom of the page.
Why are Spanish Tongue Twisters Useful?
Choosing a Spanish tongue twister that focuses on a particular pronunciation issue will give you the ultimate learning tool. First of all, you can practice it at any moment, anywhere, until you have mastered the sound. Furthermore, Spanish tongue twisters will train the muscles in your mouth to move correctly, creating authentic pronunciation. Once you have learned one sound, you can then move on to harder trabalenguas that combine different sounds. Before long, you’ll be able to speak Spanish without tripping over your tongue!
Quite often, pronunciation problems lie in the physical – where you place your tongue. In American English, for example, we are used to relaxing the tip of our tongue while the center is raised halfway up in the mouth. This creates that typical hard /r/ sound we find in the word ‘red.’ If we attempt to do the same exact movement when pronouncing a Spanish word, such as pero, we quickly hear a striking difference between our pronunciation and that of native speakers. This is because the phonetic usage of /r/ in Spanish is physically different from that of the English language. For correct pronunciation, you must “flick” your tongue against the roof of your mouth, producing a very quick and light sound similar to a soft /d/ in English. With continued practice, you will notice a drastic improvement when you pronounce Spanish words containing the single r.
To practice this tongue movement, try the following Spanish tongue twister:
Tres tristes trapecistas con tres trapos troceados hacen trampas truculentas porque suben al trapecio por trapos y no por cuerdas.
Build Muscle Memory to Improve Pronunciation
Think back to being young and wanting to learn how to ride that shiny new bike in the driveway. When you started out, you fumbled quite a bit and lost your balance. You may have even fallen over and ended up with a scraped knee or two. Likewise, learning how to pronounce words in a new language is a process of learning a new physical skill – without the scraped knees. Instead of simply copying what you hear and attempting to copy the sounds native speakers make, you can take the time to study the actual movement required by the tongue to produce such sounds. Once you isolate a certain sound and begin to practice it, you can look for an appropriate Spanish tongue twister. Search for one that forces you to repeatedly practice the desired sound, especially in conjunction with other sounds.
Some accents may be almost impossible to mimic at first due to weak facial muscles since not every language uses the same muscles to create sounds. However, you can overcome this through extensive practice and awareness of how to strengthen those specific muscles. Thankfully, Spanish tongue twisters are the perfect answer because they provide repeated practice with certain muscles and sounds. Do yourself the biggest favor by creating a daily routine of pronunciation practice. First, identify which sounds are the most difficult for you, then find the corresponding Spanish tongue twisters that work those muscles. In no time, you’ll see how easy and efficient it is using Spanish tongue twisters to enhance your pronunciation!
A Collection of Spanish Tongue Twisters
Here are some of the best Spanish tongue twisters that children giggle over and adults remember fondly from their school days. Many are fun to try and will certainly get you smiling over how hard – and silly – they can be.
For Practice with Vowels:
- Lado, ledo, lido, lodo, ludo, decirlo al revés lo dudo. Ludo, lodo, lido, ledo, lado, ¡Qué trabajo me ha costado!
- ‘A’ – Si Pancha plancha con 4 planchas, ¿con cuántas planchas plancha Pancha?
- ‘E’ – Esteban es escalador escala y escala, Esteban el escalador, de tanto escalar, en una cima quedó.
- ‘I’ – Tengo una gallina pinta pipiripinta gorda pipirigorda pipiripintiva y sorda que tiene tres pollitos pintos pipiripintos gordos pipirigordos pipiripintivos y sordos. Si la gallina no hubiera sido pinta pipiripinta gorda pipirigorda pipiripintiva y sorda Los pollitos no hubieran sido pintos pipiripintos gordos pipirigordos pipiripintivos y sordos.
- ‘O’ – Un dragón tragón tragó carbón y el carbón que tragó el dragón tragón le hizo salir barrigón.
- ‘U’ – Cuando cuentes cuentos, cuenta cuantos cuentos cuentas. Porque si no cuentas cuantos cuentos cuentas, nunca sabrás cuantos cuentos cuentas.
For Practice with ‘b/v:’
- Juan tuvo un tubo, y el tubo que tuvo se le rompió, y para recuperar el tubo que tuvo, tuvo que comprar un tubo, igual al tubo que tuvo.
- Nadie silba como Silvia, porque si alguien silba como Silvia, es porque Silvia le enseñó a silbar.
- Un ave pensaba mientras que volaba, que sentía el pez mientras que nadaba. Y pensaba un pez mientras que nadaba, que sentía el ave mientras que volaba.
For Practice with ‘c/ch:’
- La casa de Casique muy casicada es y si Casique no limpia la casa de Casique yo no la veré.
- Yo compré poca carne, poca carne yo compré, como la carnicería carne tenía al carnicero poca carne le compré.
- María Chucena techaba su choza y un techador que por allí pasaba le dijo: María Chucena, ¿techas tu choza o techas la ajena? Ni techo mi choza ni techo la ajena, que techo la choza de María Chucena.
For Practice with ‘p:’
- Pepe Pecas pica papas con un pico, con un pico pica papas Pepe Pecas.
- Compré pocas copas, pocas copas compré, como compré pocas copas, pocas copas pagué.
- Pedro Pablo Pérez Pereira pobre pintor portugués, pinta pinturas por poca plata para pasar por París.
For Practice with ‘q:’
- ¿Cómo quieres que te quiera si quien quiero que me quiera no me quiere como quiero que me quiera?
- Yo no quiero que tú me quiera porque yo te quiera a ti, quieréndome o sin quererme, yo te quiero porque sí.
- Quique Queco Quicas quiere quintales de queso para quesadillas quebradizas, así que quintales de queso para quesadillas quebradizas quiere Quique Queco Quicas.
For Practice with ‘r/rr:’
- Tres tristes tigres comen en tres tristes platos de trigo.
- El perro de Rita me irrita dile a Rita que cambie el perro por una perrita.
- Erre con erre cigarro, erre con erre barril, rápido corren los carros cargados de azúcar al ferrocarril.
For Practice with ‘s:’
- La sucesión sucesiva de sucesos sucede sucesivamente con la sucesión del tiempo.
- Si Sansón no sazona su salsa con sal, le sale sosa; le sale sosa su salsa a Sansón, si la sazona sin sal.
- La sucia Susana ensucia suficientemente el suéter de Sonia.
For Practice with ‘z:’
- Tengo un durazno muy desduraznador, el que me lo desdurazne, será un gran desduraznador.
- Un zapatero zambo, zapateaba zapateados de zapata, de zapata zapateaba zapateados un zapatero zambo.
- Baza, come calabaza. Baza, calza zapatas y come calabazas.
Advanced Spanish Tongue Twisters:
- Doña Panchívida se cortó un dévido con el cuchívido del zapatévido. Y su marívido se puso brávido porque el cuchívido estaba afilávido.
- El volcán de Parangaricutirimicuaro lo quieren desemparanguatizar y el que lo desemparangaritutimice, un buen desemparanguatizador será.
- El otorrinolaringólogo de parangaricutirimicuaro, se quiere desotorrinolaringaparangaricutirimicuarizar, el desotorrinolaringaparangaricutimicuador que logre desotorrinolaringaparangaricutimicuarizarlo, buen desotorrinolaringaparangaricutimicuador será.
How to Use Spanish Tongue Twisters
- To make the most of your experience with Spanish tongue twisters, try writing them down while memorizing them. Although native Spanish speakers likely learn these silly sayings verbally, it may be harder for you without writing them down. When learning any other language, it’s beneficial to practice both spelling and pronunciation. Not only is it important to train your tongue to pronounce words correctly, but it is good to know how to spell what you are saying.
- Do not waste your time trying to understand every word in a tongue twister! The words will often be from particular regions of the Spanish-speaking world and will not have a meaning outside of that area! They were also meant to be fun to say, not to have a deep meaning. Remember when you were a kid learning tongue twisters in your native language? You were not concerned about the meaning of what you learned, but instead tried saying it faster and faster! Keep this in mind as you expand your volume of memorized Spanish tongue twisters. What’s most important here is using it to enhance the quality of your pronunciation.
- If you are learning Spanish with a friend or classmate, turn the tongue twisters into a game. You can play telephone, where you say a tongue twister as fast as possible and your friend repeats what they heard. Similarly, you can also try playing Pictionary with Spanish tongue twisters both you and your friend know. One person draws the basic idea from a tongue twister with the other tries to guess it.
Most importantly, have fun! Learning a language can be hard, so don’t forget to take a step back and enjoy the process. ¡Disfrútalo!
Do you need help pronouncing these Spanish tongue twisters?
Check out our video to see our very own teachers pronounce some of the tongue twisters mentioned above! Comment with your favorite one.Read More
Do you love setting goals, taking ownership of your language learning and building a following? You need to keep a language journal. A simple record of your progress in Spanish class can be the difference between attending class and rocking it.
Even if the thought of a daily journal doesn’t appeal to you, there is a way to make this practice work for you. HSA wants to see you succeed, so here is a quick guide to help you set up and use your new language journal.
Designate, Decorate and Design your Journal
Your journal practice should be easy and fun, so keep your habits in mind. Think of how you record items for yourself or your work and let that inform your journal. Don’t force yourself into something new; keep what you like at the forefront to help you stay active in your practice.
Here are three fun choices:
Invest in a notebook with a beautiful cover, nice heavy paper and maybe even a bonus like pre-written dates, room for images or a calendar at the top. Get yourself a nice pen you love to write with and some good pencils for extra notes. If you live for office supplies, go for highlighters, organizational tabs or stickers to use as you like.
If you live to draw or paint, go for an unlined book or choose a large pad that can handle heavy ink, charcoal or paint. Turn your entries into comics, illustrated images or fun doodles to help you record what you want to save.
A Journal App
Note taking apps have become more popular because they help people do more than write; they can add photos, audio, and video to what they want to remember. If you love music, you can record live performances in Spanish and notes about where you heard it, your favorite lyrics or what the song reminded you of as you listened. If you live on Instagram, you can recreate your posts in your journal and caption them in Spanish.
For phone journals, you can try several apps. Google Keep is good for lists and adding images. Penzu is an online, private diary you can access from your phone and can share with a teacher. Microsoft OneNote is a nice choice for longer entries with additional media attached.
Find one you like and keep it on your home screen to remind you to update it often.
A Published Blog
A blog is a set of articles written in first-person about your real progress as a Spanish learner. It’s an interesting twist on a journal because with this option you can gain followers and get comments on your writing.
Not for the faint of heart, a blog can be a great tool, but only if you’re prepared for it. It requires maintenance, special tools to block spammers and regular updates. Good bloggers post at least once a week and only fully-developed, polished pieces.
The benefit of publishing your journey is that you can interact with readers. You can ask for comments on a theme, (in Spanish), share it with a classmate and even use it to share other parts of your life. Be ready for the critics and enjoy the fans. If it’s your goal to improve as a writer, a blog is a great place to start.
What to Write and Why
You have your journal of choice. Now, you need to write something.
The more organized learner will want to create sections within their journal. They can Reflections on class, Vocabulary, Progress and Beyond. If you aren’t much for organizing or subsections, use these ideas to get you started.
The reflections section is to help you cement in what you learned at your last lesson. The idea is to find a place to journal right after class and then note down things you remember. Get out your workbook or class notes to help you along. What joke did the teacher make about a certain phrase? If in a classroom setting, which classmate had the best pronunciation that day? Did you speak up in class or hide in the back?
Don’t judge yourself here. Record what happened so you can look for patterns. Maybe you’re more open to language lessons on Tuesdays rather than Fridays or you perform well in class if you switch out your morning coffee for water. It’s easier to notice these things if you keep a record of your own experience.
Vocabulary is where you can take note of words to ask your teacher about, words you’ve heard but don’t understand or confuse with similar words. This is also a great place to practice verb conjugations and tenses. Building words is a valid practice that many language experts recommend, so add it to your regular entries.
Track Your Progress
Personal progress is an important section. This is where you can set goals for yourself like Order an entire meal in Spanish or Joke to José over the phone. If you write your goals down, you are much more likely to strive for them. When you achieve one, write about it. Show yourself that you can speak Spanish. Remember, confidence is half the battle – build it with your journal.
The beyond section is where you can go further than the learning in class. Translate a song to or from Spanish and record yourself singing it. Illustrate vocabulary words into a beautiful story. Do anything you like that helps you stay excited about Spanish.
The Benefits of a Language Journal
Journalling alone is great – it helps you keep a clear head, organize your thoughts, develop ideas. However, a language journal has a laser focus that empowers you in your language acquisition.
- It helps you remember new words to ask your teacher about or to look up later. This builds your vocabulary faster and easier.
- Take notes on what kind of exercises are your favorites and help you remember. When you analyze these reflections you will see a record of your learning style. Once you have a written record of what works best for you; songs, readings or something else – you know how to practice on your own and optimize your homework time.
- Your journal is a physical reminder of everything you learned in class. When you have off days and feel frustrated, you can look back at all of your accomplishments. That’s enough to motivate you on any day.
- Record your mistakes. This sounds negative, but it’s an effective way to avoid repeating the same mistake over and over. If you throw an s into deporte or switch the number tres with trece, write it down. Once you record that mistake and see it on paper, you’re less likely to make that flub again.
No matter how you keep a language journal, the key is to use it in a way that feels natural and helpful. Make it fun, keep it personal and a true expression of your linguistic journey.
Do you have a great language journal? Please comment below and tell us how it’s helped you in your journey to learn a foreign language.Read More
We all dream of speaking Spanish at full-speed and hope that all of the studying will result in new friends, exciting travels, and maybe even job opportunities. Many students spend the bulk of their time learning a new language just reading and writing it in hopes of fluency. Unfortunately, this is not the most effective way to learn Spanish or any language. We all have to gulp down our fears, open our mouths and speak.
Passive Versus Active Learning
Speaking Spanish fluently involves four areas of learning: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The first two, when you pay attention and respond, are the active parts of the language. The other two sections are important but fall under the passive subheading.
Passive study techniques have their place and they are absolutely necessary to master a new language. As we learn new vocabulary, the list of new words can overwhelm us. As we read, we can take our time, look up and double-check meanings, take notes, etc. It’s a comfortable, slow-paced way to absorb new vocabulary.
The same goes for writing. We can relax a little more, help ourselves out with a dictionary or a tutor if desired. This is also a good chance to practice accents, spelling and sentence structure.
What happens when we’re in conversation? First, we have to navigate around words we don’t know, which is frustrating. That ignorant feeling can raise a student’s stress level and keep him or her from speaking at all. When we do know a word, it doesn’t always make it out in time. A new Spanish speaker may experience that tip-of-my-tongue sensation. The “I know the word, but I can’t put my finger on it…” feeling.
These are all stages of language learning known as Going Public. Students fear speaking out loud because they might accidentally say the wrong word, offending someone or embarrassing themselves. However, making mistakes in Spanish is just part of the learning process and essential for mastering the language.
Say it Wrong, then Say it Right
Teachers know the best learning opportunities exist within student mistakes. A falter in a sentence, a missed part of speech or an incorrect conjugation are all good opportunities for students to reflect and learn from these mistakes.
Staring at a dictionary or writing a sentence one hundred times to memorize it can appeal to a language learner who will give anything to avoid speaking. However, working through that fear is what will seal the correct phrase in their mind. This emotional journey, while scary and intimidating, is what students need behind the language. Good teachers know pushing past a mistake and through the embarrassment means something as simple as the Spanish word for bread can internalize the lesson and make it part of a student’s permanent bank of knowledge.
What to Look for in a Class
A good Spanish class will have a balance of active and passive learning activities. The teacher needs to encourage individual students to speak to him or her and to classmates. One-on-one lessons should also be a lot of speaking and listening, but texts should be a part of the lesson.
If you feel your child is spending too much time in a textbook or watching movies in Spanish and not enough in conversation, consider looking for a program that offers a more immersive, conversational curriculum where actually speaking Spanish is at the core.
Sign up for a FREE TRIAL class today and see why HSA is the best way to learn Spanish for students of all ages. Click here.Read More
You’re learning Spanish – well done! Now it’s time to plan out how and when to study. Let’s take a moment to go over some good practices for studying your new Spanish vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension.
Students use flashcards for a reason; they work. Physical cards let you add notes, organize and practice like a pro. If you have good flashcards, (like these) for your new Spanish words, all you need is a regular study habit.
First, make them early. After you finish a chapter or section of class, sit down and make your new set right away.
Separate the cards into five groups and number them 1 through 5. They can be sorted by theme, type of verb or conjugation into boxes or pouches. Start with pile one and go through your cards. Every definition or conjugation you get right goes into pile two. An incorrect answer stays in pile one. Then move on to pile 2 and continue to put correct answers into the next pile while incorrect answers move back to one.
Keep going until you get to the bottom of pile five. Start again with the cards from pile one only and continue until you’re all out of flashcards.
Play a Vocabulary Game
Games are a great way to make studying fun! Take advantage of your goofy side with a great word game like ¡Basta! or Stop! This takes a little practice but it’s a great way to practice your new words and push yourself to learn new ones.
Here’s how to play. Print up a ¡Basta! Board for each player, (easy or hard, depending on students’ levels). Then, designate a game master to be in charge of how the game starts. The master says, “I’m thinking of the alphabet…” then goes through their ABC’s until the players yell ¡Basta! The master lets the group know what letter he or she stopped at. Players then use that letter to start each word in each category and write as fast as they can.
After a minute, the Master yells ¡Basta! and everyone puts their pen down. Players then read what they wrote. If another player wrote the same word, they have to cross it out. Go through each player to make sure final answers are original and not repeats. Each unique word gets 100 points. Use the final column to add up their points and the next round begins. The player with the most by the end of the game is the winner.
Listen to Spanish
Listening to Spanish is important for various reasons. It allows students to pick up on accents and pronunciations, but also offers another means of learning. If your child is an a strong auditory learner, listening to Spanish is a plus. Students have a few choices – they can make an audio recording of their lesson for review, record themselves speaking or find a radio show designed for Spanish learners.
A popular site with Spanish podcasts is Audiria. The site is free and designed to promote the Spanish language and culture. They post a new podcast each day and tag each with a level and a theme so students can easily navigate to the podcast that best suits them.
Take Advantage of Technology
If your child uses Facebook, Instagram or any other fun site, try changing their account settings so it functions in Spanish. This way they will see their second language every time they log in, even if they don’t type in Spanish. Students can also use their Instagram account to make short, digital stories to review new vocabulary or to show their comprehension from the latest lesson. Many other devices allow for this too. Have an iPhone or use Alexa around your home? Try changing the settings on your devices so practicing Spanish becomes inevitable.
Sing a Song
Have a learner in your house who can’t sit still or loves music? You’re in luck – there are tons of Spanish songs that work well for learners of all levels.
For a song with direct commands and tons of encouragement to dance, try Te Mueves Tú by Ha*ash, Reik and David Bisbal. This song has a lot of repetition, is kid-friendly and tells you how to dance along.
There are tons of songs about family that can aide your studying. Most of them are for young learners, (like this one from Peppa Pig), but some are more grown up. Try Mi Familia by Basho & Friends for older kids.
Songs are wonderful for more advanced review. Check out ¿Con Quién se Queda el Perro? by Jesse and Joy. The song looks at a couple’s tough decision of who gets their beloved dog once they break up. This version shows the lyrics to help you sing along.
Have some additional tips and tricks for effective studying? Share them with the HSA community in the comments below.
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