You know the famous tongue twister “She sells seashells on the seashore”, right? Try to read it several times, how do you feel?
A very good way of learning a language is via tongue twisters. Tongue twisters can really train the tongues to twist to make the right sound. Tongue twisters are called 绕口令 (ràokǒulìng) in Chinese. Chinese tongue twisters are a bit harder than English ones: to pronounce the right tongue twisters, a person does not only need to make the pronunciation right, he has to make the tones right!
Let’s try some Chinese tongue twisters for children:
1. 妈妈骑马, 马慢妈妈骂马
mā mā qí mǎ, mǎ màn, mā mā mà mǎ.
Translation: Mother rides a horse. The horse moves slowly. Mother chides the horse.
2. 吃葡萄不吐葡萄皮, 不吃葡萄倒吐葡萄皮 。
Chī pú táo bù tǔ pú táo pí, bù chī pú táo dào tǔ pú táo pí
Translation: Eat grapes without spitting out the skin of the grape; eat no grapes, but spit out the skin of the grapes. (quite silly, right?)
3. 四是四， 十是十， 十四是十四， 四十是四十 。
sì shì sì, shí shì shí, shí sì shì shí sì, sì shí shì sì shí
Translation: Four is four, ten is ten, fourteen is fourteen, forty is forty.
4. 扁担长, 板凳宽, 扁担比板凳长, 板凳比扁担宽， 扁担绑在了板凳上， 板凳不让扁担绑在板凳上， 扁担非要绑在板凳上。
Biǎndan zhǎng, bǎndèng kuān, biǎndan bǐ bǎndèng zhǎng, bǎndèng bǐ biǎndan kuān, biǎndan bǎng zàile bǎndèng shàng, bǎndèng bù ràng biǎndan bǎng zài bǎndèng shàng, biǎndan fēi yào bǎng zài bǎndèng shàng.
Translation: The shoulder pole is long, the wooden bench is broad, the shoulder pole is longer than the wooden bench, the wooden bench is broader than the shoulder pole. The shoulder pole is tied on the wooden bench, the wooden bench doesn’t allow the shoulder pole to be tied on the wooden bench, the shoulder pole simply wants to be tied on the wooden bench.
5. 知道就说知道, 不知道就说不知道, 不要知道说不知道, 也不要不知道说知道, 你知道不知道？
Zhīdào jiù shuō zhīdào, bù zhīdào jiù shuō bu zhīdào, bùyào zhīdào shuō bu zhīdào, yě bùyào bù zhīdào shuō zhīdào, nǐ zhīdào bù zhīdào?
Translation: If you know, say you know; if you don’t know, say you don’t know. Don’t say you know when you don’t know, and say you know when you don’t know. Do you know it or not?
Give them a try and you will learn them with laughter!