Why Practice Tongue Twisters?
While they do look intimidating at first glance, practicing a few German tongue twisters (Zungenbrecher = tongue breaker!) can really help you to nail German pronunciation. Aside from the fact that they are great fun and a hilarious challenge, the repetition you find in each tongue twister is a great way to improve the target sound.
Each of these tongue twisters focuses on a different sound such as ‘f’, ‘sch’, ‘z’, ‘gr’ and ‘br’. And many of these letter combinations have a different sound to their English counterparts.
You find each tongue twister has it’s own downloadable JPG image, so you can keep your favourites on your smartphone to practice anywhere!
How To Master These Tongue Twisters
They may look impossible to start with, but the key with tongue twisters is to break them down into manageable chunks. Make sure you are aware of the correct German pronunciation for each letter group. For example ‘br’ sounds a little different in German than it does in English.
Master one word at a time and read slowly. If there are any works you’re struggling with, focus on them on their own until you’re happy. Once you’re happy with the pronunciation of every word, begin to string them together. Eventually you’ll be able to speed up the tongue twister to normal speed.
If you’re struggling with getting the sound right, practice with a language partner. If you don’t have a tame German speaker available, check out the free app Tandem. There are loads of native German speakers who would love to do a language exchange with you. If you’re feeling a bit self conscious, just bring a few English tongue twisters for your partner to practice as well.
8 German Tongue Twisters To Improve Your Pronunciation
1. Fischers Fritze fischt frische Fische; Frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritze.
Translation: Fisherman’s son, Fritze fishes fresh fish; Fresh fish fishes Fisherman’s son Fritze.
2. Wenn Fliegen hinter Fliegen fliegen, fliegen Fliegen hinter Fliegen her.
Translation: When flies fly behind flies, then flies fly after flies.
3. Der dicke Dachdecker deckt Dir dein Dach, drum dank dem dicken Dachdecker, dass der dicke Dachdecker Dir Dein Dach deckte.
Translation: The fat roofer covers your roof, so thank the fat roofer that the fat roofer covered your roof.
4. Schnecken erschrecken, wenn sie an Schnecken schlecken, weil zum Schrecken vieler Schnecken Schnecken nicht schmecken.
Translation: Snails are shocked when they lick snails because to the surprise of many snails, snails don’t taste good.
5. Am Zehnten Zehnten um zehn Uhr, zehn zogen zehn zahme Ziegen zehn Zentner Zucker zum Zoo.
Translation: On the tenth of October (10/10) at 10.10am, ten tame goats pulled ten hundredweight of sugar to the zoo.
6. Der Grubengräber gräbt die Gruben.
Graben Grabengräber Gruben?
Graben Grubengräber Gräben?
Grabengräber graben Gräben.
Grubengräber graben Gruben.
The gravedigger digs graves.
Do ditchdiggers dig graves?
Do gravediggers dig ditches?
Gravediggers dig graves.
Ditchdiggers dig ditches.
7. Die Katzen kratzen im Katzenkasten, im Katzenkasten kratzen Katzen.
Translation: The cats scratch in the cat box, in the cat box cats scratch.
8. Bierbrauer Bauer braut braunes Bier, braunes Bier braut Bierbrauer Bauer.
Translation: Brewer Bauer brews brown beer, brown beer brews Brewer Bauer.
I hope you enjoyed wrapping you tongue around some of these Zungenbrecher! Don’t forget to download and practice any favourites, and share them with other German learners.