15 Spanish Tongue Twisters to Improve Your Pronunciation

Even though tongue twisters are a great to bring out your inner child, you don’t need to be a kid to enjoy the benefits. In fact, the pros of tongue twistersor trabalenguascannot be overstated if you are a language learner:

  • Tongue twisters require you to focus on a given pronunciation task, therefore improving memorization and concentration.
  • The  precision required for tongue twisters will polish your speech and articulation. 
  • Tongue twisters not making much sense? That’s great news! It means that you do not need to focus on the meaning of the words, just on how to pronounce them. 
  • Tongue twisters are the one time adults know they are supposed to be making mistakes. My belief? Mistakes are the only way to truly learn. 
  • Because adults are so concerned about the rules when they try to acquire a new language, this mechanical way of learning is easy, yet excellent. It is a clear distinguisher between how adults versus how children learn languages. Adults think a lot; children act. 
  • Tongue twisters will help boost your confidence.
  • You want to speak more, think less, and talk at a faster pace? Trabalenguas will help speed (literally) your way to fluency. 
  • And you will be cracking up along the way!

What more could you ask for? If you are a complete beginner to Spanish, I can guarantee that if you do tongue twisters you won’t make many of the pronunciation mistakes common amongst language learners. For intermediate to advanced speakers who have made strides in their Spanish journey, pronunciation is probably the one thing that is holding you back. Tongue twisters are for you! The goal of tongue twisters is precision followed by speed. Start slow but over enunciate. As you gain confidence, speed it up. It’s time you stop confusing the r and the r (erre), the v and the b (same sound!). What follows is my compiled list of the best trabalenguas. It outlines the sounds you will be practicing and the translation of each tongue twister. If the translation sounds odd, please do not blame the translator (me!). They are just as strange, if not stranger, in Spanish. But that’s the fun of it! Enjoy! 

1. B, v, p, pl, c, cl sounds, preterite indefinite, and the diminutive -ito

Remember that there is no different between the b and v sounds in Spanish.  

Pablito clavó un clavito en la cabeza de un calvito. En la cabeza de un calvito un clavo clavó Pablito Little Pablo hit a little nail on a little bald man’s head. On the little bald man’s head, little Pablo hit a nail. 

2. C sound, participle, conditional, preterite indefinite

The c follows the same rules as in English (ca, co, cu are pronounced as “hard” c’s, while ce and ci are more like an s. In Spain, the ce, ci, and z are also pronounced like an English th. Please note that in the following tongue twister, the verb encancaranublar and and the noun encancaranublador are used. These words do not exist in Spanish. I’ve translated the verb as “darken.”

El cielo está encancaranublado, ¿Quien lo encancaranublaría? El que lo encancaranubló, buen encancaranublador sería The sky has darkened. Who darkened it? The one who did it must be good at it.

3. C and ch sounds

Note that Spanish does not have an sh sound. 

Pancha plancha con cuatro planchas. ¿Con cuantas planchas Pancha plancha? Pancha irons with four irons. With how many irons does Pancha iron?

4. Ch sound

Chiquito chanchito cochinito, echado en la charca está, ¡ah! Qué chiquito chanchito cochinito que cochinito está  Little filthy pig, he’s lying in the pond. Ah! What a little filthy pig he is. 

5. Co sounds, as well as the imperative

Compadre, cómprame un coco. Compadre, coco no compro, porque el que poco coco come, poco coco compra. Yo como poco coco como poco coco compro Buddy, buy me a coconut. Buddy, I don’t buy coconut, because those who eat little coconut, buy little coconut. I eat little coconut like I buy little coconut.

6. Cu sound

¿Cuantos cuentos cuentas cuando cuentas cuentos? How many stories do you tell when you tell stories?

7. C, ce, co, ch, s, and z sounds

Con un cuchillo de acero te descorazonaré, el que te descorazona descorazonador será I will dishearten you with a steel knife. Those who dishearten, disheartening will be. 

8. D and c sounds, present perfect, pluperfect subjunctive, conditional

Me han dicho que has dicho un dicho, un dicho que he dicho yo. Ese dicho que te han dicho que yo he dicho, no lo he dicho; y si yo lo hubiera dicho, estaría muy bien dicho por haberlo dicho yo  I’ve been told you said a saying, a saying that I said. That saying that they told you that I’ve said, I haven’t said it; and if I had said it, it’d be well said because I said it. 

Talk about humility! 😉

9. P sound

Poquito a poquito Paquito empaca poquitas copitas en pocos paquetes Little by little, Paquito packs the little glasses in small packages.

10. P sound

Pepe Peña pela papa, pica piña, pita un pito, pica piña, pela papa, Pepe Peña Pepe Peña peels potatoes, chops up a pineapple, blows a whistle, chops up a pineapple, peels potatoes, Pepe Peña.

11. S sound.

Si la sierva que te sirve, no te sirve como sierva, de qué sirve que te sirvas de una sierva que no sirve If the servant who serves does not serve you as servant, what’s the point of having a servant who doesn’t serve you.

12. T sound

Un tubo tiró un tubo y otro tubo lo detuvo. Hay tubos que tienen tubos pero este tubo no tuvo tubo A tube pulled a tube and another tube stopped it. There are tubes that have tubes, but this tube did not have a tube.

13. T and tr sounds and preterite imperfect

This is one of the most famous Spanish tongue twisters.

Tres tristes tigres triscaban trigo en un trigal. Un tigre, dos tigres, tres tigres tragaban trigo en un trigal. ¿Cuál tigre trigaba mas? Todos triscaban igual Three sad tigers swallowed wheat in a wheat field. One tiger, two tigers, three tigers were swallowed wheat in a wheat field. Which tiger swallowed more? They all swallowed the same.

14. R and rr sounds

Si don Curro ahorra ahora, ahora ahorra don Curro If Mr. Curro saves now, now saves Mr. Curro.

15. RR sound

Erre con erre cigarro. Erre con erre barril. Rápido corren los carros cargados de azúcar del ferrocarril R and r cigarro. R and r barrel. The railroad cars full of sugar run fast. 

La ñapa

La ñapa is the extra bit. I promised 15, but let’s go for a 16th, right?

16. V sound. Remember that the v sound is exactly as a b

El vino vino, pero el vino no vino vino. El vino vino vinagre The wine came, but the wine did not come as wine. The wine came as vinegar.

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