From day one, your little one is learning language just by listening to people around her. She listens to stories told by you, conversations between her loved ones, etc. She will also be exposed to language when she interacts with others.
As time goes by, these interactions will become more sophisticated and she will learn so much from them! First, she will start to comprehend language, but little by little she will manage to express her thoughts and ideas in a non-verbal and verbal way. In the beginning, she might use sounds, gestures, and then move on to her first words. Later on, she will continue to develop and accomplish the construction of her first sentences. But, at this point, will everyone understand her? That’s where pronunciation comes along.
Today we will love to discuss a very cool strategy related to language skills: rhymes and tongue twisters. We have talked about the power of rhymes before, and I’m sure that you have even used some nursery rhymes with her. Tongue twisters are a very cool tool, because they are short and repeat sounds and words in attractive, easy-to-copy rhythms. You can say them with your child at any time and place. No need for toys or books, just memory.
This type of activity will help your little one discover how language works, and later on, she will become familiar with the relationship between sounds and letters, which helps her begin to read. Today we’ll talk about a special kind of rhyme that can also contribute to her language skills and emergent literacy: tongue twisters.
What are tongue twisters?
A tongue twister is a phrase that is difficult to pronounce. Some contain repeating sounds or use rhyming, while others use a combination of both. Either way, they are generally somewhat tricky to pronounce. Saying a tongue twister requires care in pronunciation of the words, and probably a lot of repetition!
Tongue twisters have been used as a tool to improve pronunciation, grammar, and other language skills through time. They have gained interest amongst many scientists, giving way to new research.
What does the research say?
Thanks to some of these studies, it has been concluded that tongue twisters have an impact on different areas of the brain, not only those related to speech. These areas activate even during silent reading. It appears as if the brain is making a huge effort to decode and understand the difficult words presented. This is called the “tongue twister effect” and it has given scientists a lot to think about.
It has been assumed that, due to the similarity of the phonetic representations, tongue twisters cause confusion in the brain. It needs to work even harder and put its working memory into use while practicing articulation.
Other research suggests that tongue twisters influence the development of accurate speech, but they have mostly been related to the acquisition of complex linguistic mechanisms, relevant to the development of your little one’s vocabulary. Research on tongue twisters says that they contribute significantly to children’s pronunciation ability.
Tongue twisters can also reinforce comprehension and production of consonant clusters and complex communication, as well as word formation mechanisms. This proposes tongue twisters as an excellent way to develop vocabulary, contributing to your little one’s future reading and spelling skills.
How can you use them?
The same way you incorporated nursery rhymes. You can incorporate tongue twisters into your everyday routines. Start with some simple ones. First, show your child how to pronounce it by setting the example, and then practice it together until you know it by heart. This will also influence her attention span and memory skills! You can also have a competition to see who learns it first.
You can get some cool tongue twisters from books, it can be of help when they’re accompanied by drawings. At first, you will need to read them to her; use exaggerated speech to make the words come alive! Later on, when her literacy starts to emerge, she will be able to recite some of the tongue twisters she already knows, while she relates the sounds to each letter, until one day she is able to read them herself!
These incredible tools not only twist the tongue but also the brain! Plus, it can be really fun to learn them together. You might even struggle as well! Make use of these fun tool and improve your little one’s language and cognitive skills!