How To Practice English Word Sounds Ep 553

A photo of marshmallow twister sweets. Practice your English speaking with free English tongue twisters pronunciation exercises!

📝 Author: Hilary

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Techniques To Practice English Word Sounds

When learning to speak English clearly, tongue twisters are great practice. Tongue twisters will help you master the art of correct diction by exercising the intricate muscles in your mouth. This type of exercise forces you to slow down and think about how you are going to shape your mouth to achieve the sounds you need. Tongue twisters are difficult but can also be fun. If you're watching on YouTube or Spotify, then you also get to see me struggling to say them.

You use your mouth muscles to form the sounds needed for words. Normally, your brain is in autopilot mode. You don’t even think about what you need to do to create a word sound. This is great for your native language, but it can cause problems with a second language. With a new language, you need to achieve unfamiliar sounds that might not exist in your native language, or you will need to change sounds because spoken English needs this.

You can use Tongue twisters to train the muscles of your mouth, just like going to train at the gym. It helps you speak English more precisely, and it helps speed up how quickly you find the sounds you need to pronounce English words. Forcing yourself to say difficult word combinations in a new language does two things.

  1. It forces you to switch off the autopilot and actually think about how you need to form your mouth muscles to achieve a sound.
  2. It helps you develop, literally build muscles in your mouth that you need to speak English.

You won’t find it easy. Native speakers find these difficult, so practice until you can say these tongue twisters loudly and clearly. Have fun with it. This is a great way to improve your English speaking.

Most Unusual Words and Phrases:

  • Tongue Twister: a phrase or sentence that is difficult to say quickly and correctly because of similar sounds
  • Gym: a place where people go to exercise and do physical training
  • Sausages: a type of food made of ground meat, spices, and herbs, usually stuffed into a casing
  • Tongs: a tool with two long, movable arms used for gripping, holding or moving objects
  • Rhyme: a repetition of similar sounds in words, usually at the end of lines in poems or songs
  • Schwa: a very short, unstressed vowel sound found in many English words
  • Batter: a mixture of flour, liquid, and other ingredients, used for making pancakes or coating food before frying
  • Bitter: a taste that is sharp and not sweet, often considered unpleasant
  • Olives: small, oval fruit with a hard stone and bitter flesh, often eaten as a snack or used in cooking
  • Grapefruit: a large, round, yellow citrus fruit with a slightly bitter taste

Most common 2 word phrases:

Your Mouth5
Tongue Twisters4
Mother Tongue2
Speaking Practice2

Most frequently used words


Listen To The Audio Lesson Now

The mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.

Transcript: How To Practice English Word Sounds

Hi there today. Let's do some English speaking practice. Let's do some 'tongue twisters'. Here at Adept English. We put a lot of focus on listening. It's the most important skill when you're learning a language, but you do need to practise your speaking too. And 'tongue twisters' are a good way to do this. They're the equivalent of 'going to the gym' for your mouth. So let's give your mouth a good exercise, a good workout today and do some 'tongue twisters'.

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

What is a 'tongue twister'?

First of all, what is a 'tongue twister'? Well, your 'tongue', that's T O N G U E. That is in your mouth. It helps you speak and helps you eat your food. I don't want to be rude, but that's my tongue! Your tongue is so important to speaking a language that in English, we sometimes refer to languages as 'tongues'.

We might talk about your 'mother tongue' that means 'your first language', the language you learned as a baby. So English is my 'mother tongue'. Don't confuse 'tongue', T O N G U E, with that silent U and E with a different word, 'tong', T O N G. When you hear that kind of 'tong', it's either something that you might get your sausages off the barbecue with - a 'pair of tongs', or you might use 'tongs' to straighten your hair. That's a different word.

And the word 'twister'? Well -'to twist', that's T W I S T that means 'to form something in a bent or twisted, spiral shape' . If you twist something, it's sort of this kind of action.

So a 'tongue twister', that's a term, an expression for a rhyme or a sentence, which is difficult to say, which makes your tongue and your mouth work really hard to say the word. And these are good speaking practice if you're learning a language because they strengthen the muscles in your mouth, but they also help you make those essential connections in your brain. Your brain learns to say new words and possibly new vowels or consonants, possibly new sounds.


Previous podcast examples for even more 'tongue twisters'

So I have covered tongue twisters before in a previous podcast - that's podcast number 375. You can find that on our website still, at And in that podcast, I covered the following. I'm gonna read these.

  • How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

That's hard to say.

  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
  • Red lorries, yellow lorries, red lorries, yellow lorries.
  • The chic Sikh's sixty sixth sheep is sick.

And the last one was in that podcast?

  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickle peppers,
  • A peck of pickle peppers, Peter Piper picked.
  • If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickle peppers,
  • Where is the peck of pickle peppers, Peter Piper picked?

So you get the idea? They're difficult, even for someone who is a native English speaker to say, so they're good practice for you. Let's do some different ones today. In that podcast in 375, I do give you a vocabulary explanation for them as well.

They are nonsense. They don't make sense, but I think it's more useful to you to be saying words that you recognize and you know the meanings of, so I'll do the same today.

Do you want to speed up your English language learning?

Just before I go on, if you would like to know how to use our podcasts so that you speed up your English language learning, what are the best techniques for learning English? Just sign up for our Seven Rules of Adept English on our website, and you will find out. It will speed up your English language learning. So sign up today,

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Let's do some less well-known tongue twisters today. Some of these are new to me, so it it it it gives you opportunity to practice. It gives your mouth chance for exercise. So try saying these ones with me.

Tongue Twister One

  • You know New York, you need New York, you know you need unique New York.

That's hard. Again?

  • You know New York, you need New York, you know you need unique New York.

If you're watching on YouTube or on Spotify, where you can get video, then you can see the words in front of you on the screen as I speak. That might be helpful here.


A HDR photo of the New York city skyline. If you speak English as a second language, you can practice in a fun and effective way with these tongue twisters!

©️ Adept English 2022

Last time.

  • You know New York, you need New York, you know, you need unique New York.

Yep. That's quite difficult. That's got me struggling.

Tongue Twister Two

What about this one?

  • If a dog chews shoes, whose shoes does he choose?


  • If a dog chews shoes, whose shoes does he choose?

A bit more slowly this time?

  • If a dog chews shoes, whose shoes does he choose?

We're testing out some of the things that I covered in that recent podcast on consonant pronunciation and the stuff that gets covered in the course on our website, on consonant pronunciation as well. Similar stuff. Last time on that one?

  • If a dog chews shoes, whose shoes does he choose?

Tongue Twister Three

Practise. It'll help! Another one? Feeling the need to prepare for this one.

  • Fred fed Ted bread and Ted fed Fred bread.

Again, it's very simple English. Isn't it?

  • Fred fed Ted bread and Ted fed Fred bread.

See if you can say that.

Practise 'tongue twisters' with Dr Seuss?

If you know the children's books by Dr Seuss, that's S E U S S, an American author, these specialise in rhymes for children that are tongue twisters. It's very famous. You may well know it. The problem is it probably doesn't translate well into other languages. It has to be in English and it is American English.

These books come with rather crazy pictures as well. My children used to love them as bedtime stories. And I think English- speaking children tend to use rhymes and nursery rhymes to help with their pronunciation, but also when they're using the 'schwa', in order to get the rhythm of the language correct. So rhymes are useful in that way as well. I do recommend one called 'Green Eggs and Ham'. You may know it. That's a book that has sold millions and millions of copies all round the world, but you can listen to it on YouTube. You can see the pictures and hear someone reading it out in American English. The link's in the transcript for that one, if you're interested. But I do recommend Dr Seuss for tongue twisters.

Tongue Twister Four

Let's end with a slightly more difficult one. This one's a bit like 'Peter Piper and his peck of pickled pepper'. See if you can say this one. I'll do it several times and I'll explain the vocabulary as well.

  • Betty Botter bought some butter, but she said the butter's bitter.
  • If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter.
  • But a bit of better butter will make my batter better.
  • So 'twas better Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter.

OK. I'll do some vocabulary here.' Betty Botter' is just a made-up name to help the rhyme. 'Butter' B U T T E R is what you put on your bread or your toast. And 'batter', B A T T E R is something that you might make when you're cooking.

If you want to make pancakes, for example, you will first of all make a 'batter'. And this is what you pour into the pan, to make a pancake. The word 'bitter', B I T T E R is an adjective. And it's usually used to describe tastes. Can be used in other contexts, too, but mainly here taste. So if something is bitter, it might make you pull a face.

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

If you tasted shampoo, if you put shampoo in your mouth, that would be bitter. But we also have foods that we quite like sometimes, that are bitter. Olives, grapefruit - they're 'bitter'. They're 'bitter tastes'. So they're 'bitter in a good way', if you like them. Let's go again with that one. Now you understand the words,

  • Betty Botter bought some butter, but she said the butter's bitter.
  • If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter.
  • But a bit of better butter will make my batter better.
  • So 'twas better Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter.

That word ''twas' is just an old-fashioned abbreviation of 'it was'. ''Twas' - T W A S. Once more?

  • Betty Botter bought some butter, but she said the butter's bitter.
  • If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter.
  • But a bit of better butter will make my batter better.
  • So 'twas better Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter.

The need for a lie down

Again, like I said, at the end of the last podcast on tongue twisters, I think I need to go and have a lie down or at least a drink to 'wet my whistle', as we say. I've got a dry mouth after all those tongue twisters!

But work on this material. Play this video or listen on audio to this podcast a number of times, and see if you can slowly get your mouth around those tongue twisters, it will really help you when it comes to speaking English.


Enough for now, have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at



The voice of Adeptenglish, loves English and wants to help people who want to speak English fluently.
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