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Learning another language is hard enough. Learning to pronounce like a native is even harder. The most obvious challenge to Spanish pronunciation is the r and double rr sounds. However, the vowels can also be tricky. By themselves, they’re straightforward and easy to master. Once you get going in a rolling conversation though, the vowels often pose the biggest threat for mispronunciations.

A few weeks ago, my stepdaughter brought home a book of trabalenguas (tongue twisters). We sat down together and went through them. I realized that this is an excellent way to pay close attention to the individual sounds that one makes while speaking. Here are a few simple tongue twisters to get you started.

R con R cigarro,
R con R barril,
rápido corren los carros
cargados de azúcar al ferrocarril.

(R with R cigar
R with R barrel
Fast go the cars
Loaded with sugar for the railroad)

En tres tristes trastos de trigo,
tres tristes tigres comían trigo;
comían trigo, tres tristes tigres,
en tres tristes trastos de trigo.

(In three sad dishes of wheat
Three sad tigers ate wheat
They ate wheat, three sad tigers
In three sad dishes of wheat)

El que poco coco come, poco coco compra;
el que poca capa se tapa, poca capa se compra.
Como yo poco coco como, poco coco compro,
y como poca capa me tapo, poca capa me compro.

(He who eats little coconut, buys little coconut
He who uses little cape, buys little cape
Since I eat little coconut, I buy little coconut
And since I use little cape, I buy little cape)

Pancha plancha con cuatro planchas
¿Con cuántas planchas plancha Pancha?

(Pancha irons with four irons.
With how many irons does Panch iron?)