German Tongue Twister Pronunciation

    Hallo, Deutschlerner. Welcome to the fourth and final part of my lesson about German pronunciation in my new Beginner German series. Today we are going to review what we have learned so far about German pronunciation by trying our luck with some German tongue twisters. If you missed the first three parts of this lesson, click the links in the description to catch up. If you follow the tips in the first three videos and the examples in this video you will have all of the knowledge you need in order to pronounce any German word you come across. Don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss a video.

    This lesson is a part of Herr Antrim’s new e-book “Beginner German with Herr Antrim“. Within the e-book, this lesson includes mp3 downloads of the audio from this lesson, so you can hear the pronunciation and practice it for yourself.

    You can also get Herr Antrim’s full German pronunciation guide including mp3 files along with the text guide to help you practice your pronunciation by clicking here.

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    Long A vs Short A

    Acht alte Ameisen aßen am Abend Ananas.
    Eight old ants ate pineapples in the evening.

    Beginner German with Herr Antrim

    In case you don’t remember it from the previous videos, the long “A” sound is made when there is only one consonant after the vowel, but the short “A” sound is made when there are more than one consonant after the vowel. The words “acht” and “alte” have the short “A” sound, while “Ameisen”, “aßen”, “am”, “Abend” and “Ananans” have the long “A” sound. Also, it is fun to hear how the last three words slide together, “am Abend Ananas”. 

    Long E vs Short E

    Esel essen Nesseln nicht, Nesseln essen Esel nicht.
    Donkeys don’t eat nettles, nettles don’t eat donkeys.

    Another practice of the long vowel vs the short vowel. Don’t forget: If there is only one consonant after the vowel, the sound is long. If there is more than one consonant after the vowel, use the short sound. 


    Am Zehnten Zehnten um zehn Uhr zehn zogen zehn zahme Ziegen zehn Zentner Zucker zum Zoo.
    On October 10th at 10:10, 10 tame goats pull 10 centners (a European unit of weight and equals 50kg) of sugar to the zoo.

    The German “Z” sound is like the “TS” at the end of the word “hats” in English. There are only two words in this entire tongue twister that don’t start with a “Z”, which makes it a lot of fun to say. 

    Consonant + R vs “ER” Ending Words

    Bierbrauer Bauer braut braunes Bier.
    Beer brewing Bauer (last name) brews brown beer.

    This one isn’t very difficult in terms of tongue twisters, but it is a good way to help you pronounce the “R” sound when it is behind a consonant and also when a word ends with “ER”, which is a completely different sound. 

    Ü Practice 

    Müller Lümmer frühstückt schüsselweise grünes Gemüse.
    Lümmer the miller eats green vegetables by the bowlful for breakfast.

    One of the most difficult sounds to get the hang of is the “Ü”. It is technically a combination of a “U” and an “E”, but it more closely resembles an “I”. This tongue twister will give you plenty of chances to practice it. 

    Ü vs OR

    Bürsten mit harten Borsten bürsten besonders sauber.
    Brushes with hard bristles brush particularly clean.

    A lot of English speakers have trouble pronouncing the “Ü”. When alternated with the “OR” wound as it is in this tongue twister, it draws attention to the way that you need to move your mouth. If you don’t get your tongue out of the way, you will end up saying the wrong vowel. 


    Weil lustige Leute laufend lachen, lachen lustige Leute auch beim Laufen.
    Because humorous people laugh all the time, humorous people laugh even when they run.

    In this one you get a few diphthongs and a few vowel sounds on their own. It is the transition between them that makes it difficult. Don’t forget that “EI” is pronounce “I” and “IE” is pronounced “E”. Also “AU” is “ow” and “EU” is “oy”. 

    Back CH Practice 

    Der Koch roch auch noch in der Nacht nach Knoblauch.
    Even in the night, the cook smelled of garlic.

    A sound that takes some practice is the back CH, the one that follows open vowels such as “A” or “O”. This tongue twister is great for practicing exactly that. Just don’t practice this one too much or you might give yourself a sore throat. 

    Front CH Practice 

    Echte Dichter dichten leichter bei Licht.
    Real poets find it easier to compose in daylight.

    Just as the previous tongue twister was great for practicing the back “CH” sound, this one is great for practicing the front “CH” sound. 

    CH vs CK

    Der Dachdecker deckt dein Dach, drum dank dem Dachdecker, der dein Dach deckt.
    The roofer roofs your roof, so thank the roofer who roofs your roof.

    A common mistake I see with my students is pronouncing “CH” as a “CK” sound. This tongue twister alternates between the two flawlessly. This makes it great for practicing these two sounds. 

    SCH Practice 

    Schneiders Schere schneidet scharf – scharf schneidet Schneiders Schere.
    Schneider’s scissors cut sharply – sharply is how Schneider’s scissors cut.

    If this sounds like gibberish to you, you are probably doing it right. That many “SCH” sounds in one sentence is a lot to handle. Just don’t forget that “SCH” is pronounced like the English “SH”. 


    Der dicke Dieter trägt den dünnen Dieter über den dicken Dreck.
    Fat Dieter carries thin Dieter across the thick mud.

    This one isn’t very difficult, but it is a good reminder that German and English share the same sound with the letter “D”. 


    Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische.
    The Fischer’s son Fritz is fishing for fresh fish.

    This one isn’t bad from a pronunciation standpoint because the letter “F” is the same in both languages. It is only difficult because of the inclusion or exclusion of the “R” after the “F”. 


    Jedes Jahr im Juli essen Jana und Julia Johannisbeeren.
    Every year in July Jana and Julia eat blackcurrants.

    The German “J” sound is the same as the English “Y”, which is why this is entertaining to say, as almost all of the words start with “J”. 


    Kluge kleine Katzen kratzen keine Krokodile.
    Clever little cats don’t scratch crocodiles.

    The “K” sound in German is the same as the English. The only difficult part here is the difference between “KL” and “KR”.


    Wer will weiße Wäsche waschen?
    Who wants to wash white laundry?

    While the vowel change from “E” to “I” to “EI” to Ä” to “A” is difficult, what I want you to focus on here is the “W” sound that is like an English “V”. It is the reason the Germans are often stereotyped as not being able to say the English “W”. 

    The Key to German Pronunciation: Practice, Practice, Practice

    Your task now it to go back through this video over and over again until you can pronounce these tongue twisters perfectly. Don’t worry about saying them quickly, that will come with time. Concentrate instead on saying them correctly, as each one has its own particularly helpful thing built in.

    In my online store you can get a copy of the script (in the case of today’s video a breakdown of the pronunciation tips), an MP3 podcast version of the video, and a worksheet for every video in this series. Click this link to find that.

    Herr Antrim

    Herr Antrim is a German teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience. In 2011 he started his successful YouTube Channel "Learn German with Herr Antrim". In 2015 he created this website to enhance the German language lessons he was providing on YouTube. He is now the author of his own e-book, "Beginner German with Herr Antrim". He has also been featured on numerous blogs and other sites.