Tongue-Twister Challenge 😝

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

Tongue twisters are such a fun way to practise and improve your English pronunciation & November 11th is International Tongue Twister Day! 😝 (There is ACTUALLY a special day on the calendar to celebrate tongue twisters!!) So, Gabby (from Go Natural English) and I challenged each other to a few tricky tongue twisters … And we are challenging you too!

Using tongue twisters to improve your English pronunciation helps you to practise difficult sounds by repeating them quickly! They are lots of fun and really do help to speak more clearly.
In this video, we practised:
How can a clam cram in a clean cream can
Six sick hicks nick six slick bricks with picks and sticks
Rory the warrior and Roger the worrier were reared wrongly in a rural brewery

They are a mouthful, aren’t they?!!

Gabby is an American English teacher and I am an Australian English teacher, so you’ll definitely notice a few differences in our pronunciation – in fact, in this lesson, I’ll talk about the some of these differences!

Make sure you check out Gabby’s lesson too! She challenged me to some tricky tongue twisters on her channel. Watch to hear me say these tongue twisters:

  • Rolling red wagon
  • The thirty-three thieves thought that they thrilled the throne throughout Thursday
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers

Video Transcript
Section 1
Well hey there, I’m Emma from mmmEnglish! Today, I’ve asked a good friend of mine to join me for a tongue twister challenge! And you might just recognise her! Just in case you missed it, yesterday, November the eleventh, was International Tongue Twister Day. Yep, there is an official day to twist your tongue and focus on some challenging English sounds.

So Gabby and I decided that we’d like to celebrate this fine day with you by challenging each other and you to complete some tricky tongue twisters. Now you may recognise Gabby from the amazing Go Natural English Youtube channel. If you do know her, make sure you say hi in the comments below. She’ll be down there saying hi too.

Gabby is an American English teacher and since I’m an Australian English teacher, you might hear some differences in our pronunciation during this lesson. Most notably, you’ll hear a little difference in vowel sounds and the /r/ consonant sound, particularly when it’s at the end of words. So see if you can recognise some of those differences. You might need to listen carefully.

So in this video, I’ll be challenging Gabby to some tongue twisters. And they’re pretty tricky ones too! But Gabby challenged me to some of her favourite tongue twisters, and you can watch that video on her channel. I’ll link to it at the end of the lesson. So don’t go anywhere!

Now even though tongue twisters are short sentences, they repeat the same or very similar sounds over and over again – like an intense gym workout for your tongue! Repetition will help your tongue to feel more comfortable with these strange English sounds. And it will also help you to reduce your accent a little and pronounce words more quickly. And lastly, tongue twisters are ridiculously fun! I guarantee that you’ll be laughing at Gabby and me during this lesson. And you’ll probably be laughing at yourself too and that’s fine!

Emma: So Gabby, I hereby challenge you to say my tongue twisters as fast as you can.

Gabby: Emma, I hereby accept your tongue twister challenge!

Emma: Are you ready?

Gabby: Yes! I think I’m ready!

Emma: Okay! Let’s do this.

#1 How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?

It’s tricky, right? So one of the most challenging parts about this tongue twister is the repeated /kr/ and /kl/ consonant clusters. Many of you have trouble hearing and producing the different sounds for /r/ and /l/ consonants. And when these sounds are pushed together with the /k/ sound, it’s even more of a challenge.

So if you’re having trouble with this part, then pause the video for a minute and practise the sounds a few times.

Clam. Clean. Cram. Cream.

Try it one more time yourself. Are you ready?

Okay Gabby, number two. And this one’s a little tricky!

#2 Six sick hicks nick six slick bricks with picks and sticks.

Gabby: I can’t remember it! This one is really hard! Woo! I think I memorised it!

That one’s hard! So I said earlier that we use tongue twisters to practise difficult sounds again and again to try and improve them. So can you guess which combination of sounds we were practising here? The /ks/ consonant cluster.

Six. Hicks. Bricks. Picks. Sticks.

And also, the short /ɪ/ sound. So try to focus on the short /ɪ/ and avoid the long /ɪ/ sound. It’s not ‘peeks’ and ‘steeks’ but ‘picks’ and ‘sticks’. Okay?

If you need to pause and practise some of these words on their own first, then please do – that’s a great strategy. Now if you’re ready, it’s your turn to try.

#3 Rory the warrior and Roger the worrier were reared wrongly in a rural brewery.

Gabby: One more time, even faster! Oh yeah!

This one is so hard! ‘Rural brewery‘ – it’s a tongue twister on its own, isn’t it? The challenge is the /r/ consonant sound so if you need to spend a few minutes getting your tongue warmed up and ready for that sound, then do it! So the tip of your tongue should not be touching anything at all and it should be raised up a little in the middle and pulling back in your mouth.


Now, you’re lucky that neither Gabby or myself speak with a British English accent because this word is really hard to say in an English accent. Ready? Practise with me!

That’s the /u/ vowel sound. So the second syllable is unstressed and it’s lower in pitch.

Now, ‘brewery’. So the middle syllable here is really soft so if you’re having a lot of trouble pronouncing this word then I’ve got a trick for you! Try ‘brew-ry’ It’s close enough and it’s a little easier to say.

Now there’s a noticeable difference in the way that Gabby and I pronounce this word, ‘warrior’. Can you hear the difference in that stressed syllable there? That /ɒ/ sound. The first syllable. And that’s actually the same sound that you’ll hear in this male name, ‘Roger’. And in ‘wrongly’, as well.

So where I pronounce this vowel sound as Gabby uses more of an R sound. Roger. Wrongly. And did you also notice the different pronunciation at the end of the name, ‘Roger’?

Standard American English pronunciation pronounces the /r/ sound at the end after the vowel sound, and you’ll hear Gabby say that.


But standard British English and Australian English, we don’t pronounce that sound.


So this is a really noticeable pronunciation difference between our accents.

Well thanks Gabby! I picked some really tricky tongue twisters there for you.

Gabby: Thank you so much Emma! I enjoyed your challenge, those were really tricky tongue twisters! Happy International Tongue Twister Day to everyone!

And how did you go? Was one of those tongue twisters particularly difficult for you? Tell me which one was the hardest in the comments. I think that the second one was probably the most difficult for me.

And have you got any other tongue twisters of your own that you practise with? If you do, share them in the comments. I want you to see if you can get my tongue twisted to celebrate International Tongue Twister Day.

Now don’t forget to head straight over to the Go Natural English YouTube channel to practise some more tongue twisters but over there, Gabby is challenging me.

Don’t forget to subscribe here at mmmEnglish and over at Go Natural English and for more pronunciation practice, why don’t you check out these lessons right here? And I’ll see you in there!

Links mentioned in the video

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