Accent Reduction Tongue Twisters

Many of our clients at Accent Pros, who are interested in learning accent reduction techniques and how to speak with an American accent, have advanced degrees and have excellent command of the English language. Given the evolving state of the English language; however, they may not understand informal slang and phrases that are regularly used in the workplace, and on various popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Occasionally our accent reduction clients will understand the meaning of an idiom, but use it in an improper context, which could potentially have embarrassing consequences. In our continuing efforts to  feature only the most relevant and practical terms when helping you achieve accent reduction goals, here are three tongue twisters to help hone your pronunciation skills.   

Accent Reduction Tongue Twister 1 – I wish to wish, I dream to dream, I try to try, and I live to live, and I’d die to die, and I cry to cry but I don’t know why.

Definition: Ideal for practicing rhyming final sounds, these song lines turned tongue twisters can serve as practice pronunciation particularly for the final “i” sounds. It mainly revolves around that final vowel sound, but also gives exposure to the digraph /sh/ and the labio-dental “v” sound. Although different from most tongue twisters which focus on initial sounds, this can still be used for pronunciation exercise purposes.

accent reductionExample: I wish to wish, I dream to dream, I try to try, and I live to live, and I’d die to die, and I cry to cry but I don’t know why (Memorize the lines and pronounce as quickly and as many times possible).

Origin : These are song lyrics from Soundgarden’s song called “Somewhere” which was written by Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd. It is one of the songs featured on Badmotorfinger, an album released in 1991. It can be used as a pronunciation exercise for both adult and young language learners.

Accent Reduction Tongue Twister 2 – Babbling bumbling band of baboons

Definition: Focusing strongly on the bilabial stop-plosive initial “b” sound, accent reduction learners will learn how to properly block air by pressing the lips tightly together before letting the sound go. It also helps differentiate the “b” sound from the softer but also bilabial stop-plosive “p” sound. It can be used in line with the “Peter Piper” tongue twister to help differentiate these stop-plosive sounds.

Example: Babbling bumbling band of baboons (Pronounce it several times as quickly as possible without looking at a copy).

Origin : This is one of the more comical moments from Harry Potter, specifically in the fourth book—Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It is said by the character Minerva McGonagall as she berates the students during their practice for the Yule ball event. It is implied by the Weasley twins to be a tongue twister when one of the twins asks the other to try pronouncing it 5 times quickly.  accent reduction


Accent Reduction Tongue Twister 3 – Santa’s Short Suit Shrunk

Definition: A short yet jam-packed and effective tongue twister, Santa’s Short Suit Shrunk shows a great combination of “s” and “sh” sounds in an alternate pattern—which is what makes it such an effective tongue twister. The arrangement of the “s” and “sh” sounds makes it a difficult tongue twister for both adult and young accent reduction learners. Making it even more challenging to pronounce is the presence of the aspirated and non-aspirated “t” sounds—where it is only aspirated or pronounced more evidently on the second syllable of the first word.

accent reductionExample: Santa’s Short Suit Shrunk (Pronounce it quickly without looking at a copy).

Origin : Santa’s Short Suit Shrunk is a book by Laura Godwin and Nola Buck featuring several Christmas-themed tongue twisters aimed to catch the fancy of young readers. It is said to give readers a tongue-tied Yuletide.

Accent Reduction: Want to Learn More?

Accent Pros has a continuing series on accent reduction tips, including common English phrases and American idioms.  Be sure to check out other blog posts to find your favorites.  Ready for a complimentary accent reduction tutorial or a free accent screening?  Check out our on-line accent reduction courses  available to students with accent reduction goals all over the world. For consistent access to our idioms series and other accent reduction tips. Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter