I have a week or so to kill before I want to do a speaking test, so I decided to have a Tongue Twister competition this week. I find that tongue twisters force students to focus on their pronunciation of specific sounds, and with a reward on offer the students like this much more than normal studies.
This week I will be doing these five tongue twisters:
1. Six sick slick slim sycamore saplings
Many Koreans seem incapable is making the ‘See’ sound. They will often, some always, pronounce it as ‘She’. It has to do with the peculiarity in the Korean language where you the ‘S’ sound inexplicably turns in to a ‘Sh’ when it followed by an ‘Ee’ vowel sound.
2. Toy boat. Toy boat. Toy boat.
Many Koreans, I feel, are lazy with regards to words like ‘Boat’. They very often pronounce it as ‘Bot’. I know they can say it correctly, but they prefer to just fall back on to what is comfortable. Also, to teach enunciation, I expect them not to come and ramble “Toy Bow, Toy Bow, Toy Boat.”
3. Red Lorry. Yellow Lorry. x 3
Aaaah! ‘R’ vs ‘L’. Most Koreans can say a useful version of both, but for the most part they consider it to be the same sound. They don’t seem to realise that in their own language it is ‘R’ at the beginning of a syllable and “L” at the end, but once I write it down in a weird form of Hangeul, they are suddenly able to pronounce it, yet still insist it is the same sound.
4. Three free throws. x 3
There are two important sounds here, but I usually pick just one to focus one, the ‘Th’ or the ‘F’. I personally feel that the ‘F’ is more important because many a native English accent messes with the ‘TH’ sounds and most English speaking people can understand the variations without problem. ‘F’ turning in to a ‘P’ is not a good idea though.
5. How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
A woodchuck would, if a woodchuck could, chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could.
This is my slightly modified version of the twister. Because there is no true ‘W’ sound in Korean, Koreans often just don’t say it. Words like “Wood” will come out ‘ood’. They don’t seem to have the same problem when “W” is followed by vowels other than ‘o’. Interesting that.
As rewards I have one small packet of chocolate chip cookies for the student who can say number five the fastest, and I give one piece of candy to every student who can say the first four correctly. With the first four I am on the lenient side, listening carefully if they get most correct, at least.