French Level 1, Activity 01: Les virelangues / Tongue Twisters (Face-to-Face)

Did you know that you can access the complete collection of Pathways Project French activities in our new Let’s Chat! French pressbook? View the book here: 

Please Note: Many of our activities were created by upper-division students at Boise State University and serve as a foundation that our community of practice can build upon and refine. While they are polished, we welcome and encourage collaboration from language instructors to help modify grammar, syntax, and content where needed. Kindly contact with any suggestions and we will update the content in a timely manner. 

Tongue Twisters / Les virelangues


In this activity, students will gain exposure to different French sounds. They will practice the alphabet and common tongue twisters. Students won’t have to worry about the meaning of what they’re saying, it's just about getting comfortable moving their mouths in a new way.

Semantic Topics

Tongue twisters, accents, introduction, pronunciation, alphabet, virelangue, prononciation, basic building blocks of language, les composantes de base d'une langue, phonétique


Tongue Twisters, virelangues


Playing behavior, for fun/amusement, practiced during casual conversations with friends/family


How do you think this linguistic game, generally played by francophone children, helps to develop their language and pronunciation skills?

NCSSFL-ACTFL World-Readiness Standards

  • Standard 1.1: Students engage in conversations or correspondence in French to provide and obtain information, express feelings and emotions, and exchange opinions.
  • Standard 1.2: Students understand and interpret spoken and written French on a variety of topics.
  • Standard 2.1: Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the practices and perspectives of the cultures of the francophone world.
  • Standard 4.1: Students demonstrate understanding of the nature of language through comparisons of French and their native language.

Idaho State Content Standards

  • COMM 1.1: Interact and negotiate meaning (spoken, signed, written conversation) to share information, reactions, feelings, and opinions. 
  • COMM 2.1: Understand, interpret, and analyze what is heard, read, or viewed on a variety of topics.
  • CLTR 1.1: Analyze the cultural practices/patterns of behavior accepted as the societal norm in the target culture.
  • CLTR 1.2: Explain the relationship between cultural practices/behaviors and the perspectives that represent the target culture’s view of the world.
  • COMP 1.2: Identify patterns and explain discrepancies the sounds and the writing system in the target language.

NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements

  • I can say the names of each letter in French
  • I can spell my name in French
  • I can identify the sounds of and name at least five letters with accents in French, é (accent aigu), è (accent grave), ç (cedille), ë/ï (tréma).
  • I can identify the sounds of the letter combinations qu, ou, au.

Materials Needed

Would you like to make changes to the materials? Access the template(s) below:

- Tongue Twister Cards (Canva Template, free account required) 

- Pronunciation Practice Cards (Canva Template, free account required)


1. Begin by introducing the Can-Dos for today’s activity.

Aujourd'hui, nous allons apprendre l'alphabet français et nous entraîner à dire des sons différents qui sont utilisés dans la langue. (Today, we are going to review the French alphabet and practice saying different sounds used in the language.)

2.  Distribute a blank piece of paper to each student. 

Maintenant que chaque personne a une feuille de papier, écrivez votre nom dessus. Après, nous allons apprendre l'alphabet et nous entraîner à écrire nos noms. (Now that each person has a piece of paper, write your name on it. After, we will learn the alphabet and practice spelling out our names.)

3. After teaching the students the alphabet, have them go around and spell their name in French.

Main Activity

1. Tell the students they are going to practice their pronunciation of French words. 

Maintenant nous allons nous entraîner à prononcer des sons français. Ces sons pourraient être un peu gênant/difficile à dire, mais ne vous inquiétez pas. Vous devez simplement vous familiariser avec eux. (Now we are going to practice pronouncing French sounds. They might be a little awkward to say, but don't worry. You should just be getting familiar with them.)
2.  Hold up one of the Pronunciation Practice Cards and tell the students to repeat the words after you.

Je vais vous montrer une carte avec de différents mots français qui ont des sons spécifiques. Écoutez et répétez chaque mot après moi. (I am going to hold up a card with different French words exhibiting a specific sound. Repeat the words after I say them to you.)

3. Go through each Pronunciation Practice Cards, making sure the students are using correct pronunciation.

4. After you finish going through these cards, tell the students that they are going to practice saying common tongue twisters in French. Make sure you let them know that they do not need to understand what the cards say and that it is more important that they practice pronunciation.

Maintenant que nous nous sommes entraînés à prononcer des sons courants en Français, nous allons dire quelques virelangues. Ne vous inquiétez pas si vous ne comprenez pas la phrase, concentrez-vous simplement sur la prononciation. (Now that we have practiced common sounds in French, we are going to practice saying common tongue twisters. Don't worry about understanding the sentence, just focus on pronunciation.)
5. Hold up one of the Tongue Twister Cards and read the sentence slowly. Have the students repeat the sentence after you.

 Je vais vous montrer une carte avec un virelangue dessus. Écoutez et répétez chaque phrase après moi. (I am going to hold up a card with a tongue twister on it. Repeat the sentence after I say it to you.)

6. Continue going through the rest of the Tongue Twister Cards.


Ask the following question(s) to finish the activity: 

1. Quel son était le plus difficile à prononcer pour vous? (Which sound was the most difficult for you to pronounce?)

2. Quel virelangue était le plus difficile pour vous? (Which tongue twister was the most difficult for you?)

Cultural Notes

The word virelangue is a neologism and a tracing of the English word tongue-twister ("which twists the tongue"). But it denotes a type of pun that is itself very old. According to Claude Gagnière, the word virelangue would be a creation of 1911 by Antonin Perbosc who francized a Languedocian expression ("la lengo t'a virat" or "as virolengat", the tongue has forked you). [Claude Gagnière, Des mots et des merveillesRobert Laffont, 1994, 741 p., Diction - p284-291]

End of Activity

  • Can-Do statement check-in... “Where are we?”
  • Read can-do statements and have students evaluate their confidence.
  • Encourage students to be honest in their self-evaluation
  • Pay attention, and try to use feedback for future activities!

NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements

  • I can say the names of each letter in French.
  • I can spell my name in French. 
  • I can identify the sounds of and name at least five letters with accents in French, é (accent aigu), è (accent grave), ç (cedille), ë/ï (tréma).
  • I can identify the sounds of the letter combinations qu, ou, au. 

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