Mimi Fahnstrom, Camille Daw, Brenna McNeil, Amber Hoye
Languages, Language Education (ESL)
Material Type:
Middle School, High School, College / Upper Division
  • Accents
  • Alphabet
  • Basic Building Blocks of Language
  • French
  • Introduction
  • Les Composantes De Base D’une Langue
  • Prononciation
  • Pronunciation
  • Tongue Twisters
  • Virelangue
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution
    English, French

    French Level 1, Activity 01: Les virelangues / Tongue Twisters (Online)

    French Level 1, Activity 01: Les virelangues / Tongue Twisters (Online)


    In this activity, students will practice introductions and pronunciation with tongue twisters.


    Activity Information

    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 practice introductions and pronunciation with tongue twisters.

    Semantic Topics

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


    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 4.2: Students demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons of francophone cultures and their own.

    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.
    • COMP 1.3: Compare and analyze idiomatic expressions in the target language.

    NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements 

    • I can say hello and goodbye to someone my age or younger, my professor, an adult, or someone I don't know.
    • I can introduce myself and others.
    • I can respond to an introduction.
    • I can greet and take leave from someone using polite rehearsed behaviors.

    Materials Needed 



    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 learn the French alphabet and practice saying different sounds used in the language.)

    2. Have students introduce themselves. (Name, major, where they're from)

    Maintenant, vous allez vous présenter (nom, résidence, matière principale).

    Main Activity

    Main Activity

    Let students know that this week they'll practice speaking French, but not to worry about the meaning! Let them know that we have a bunch of letter combinations and traditional tongue twisters that will help them practice their pronunciation and get comfortable with the language. They will feel silly, but let them know they are a team and will get through these together!

    Laissez savoir aux étudiants que cette semaine, ils pratiqueront la prononciation sans porter attention à la signification.  Faites-leur savoir qu’ils pourront pratiquer leur prononciation à l’aide de différentes combinaisons de lettres difficiles à prononcer et de virelangues, ce qui les rendra familier à la langue. Ils peuvent se sentir bizarre, mais qu’ils sont tous dans la même situation et qu’il s’agit d’un travail d’équipe.


    1. Start by having students repeat the vowels with accents after you. For example, the instructor should say each word with an accent to demonstrate the sound.

    Les étudiants doivent répéter après vous les voyelles avec les accents. Vous devez bien démontrer le son de l’accent sur la voyelle.

    A. une activité, un écrivain, présenter, des coordonnées

    B. très, une lumière, célèbre, un père, une mère, une bière

    C. un garçon, ça, français, une façon

    D. Noël, Aïsha, égoïsme, un canoë, un maïs

    E. quand, qui, quatre, quoi, une question

    F. nous, vous, court(e), rouge, un blouson

    G. un bureau, un tableau, des chaussures, aujourd'hui


    2. After you have gone through all the different vowels, do it again. You may want to repeat any tricky sounds multiple times. If your group picks up the sounds correctly, quickly, you may not need to repeat.

    Vous devrez peut-être répéter le son des voyelles avec accent à plusieurs reprises. Si le groupe arrive à bien prononcer, vous pouvez cesser de répéter.


    3. After you have gone through all the sounds, switch to go through the tongue twisters. You might want to split the group into partners and have them try to do one or two tongue twisters together. You might also want to translate the tongue twisters into English, or at least give the gist of what they mean.

    Après avoir pratiquer les sons, vous pouvez aborder les virelangues. Vous pouvez diviser le groupe en équipe de deux et les laissés pratiquer les virelangues. Vous pouvez traduire les virelangues en anglais aux étudiants ou leur mentionner la signification.

    A. Un chasseur qui chassait fit sécher ses chaussettes sur une souche sèche.

    - In English, this equates to "A hunter who hunted dried his shoes on a dry stump."

    B. Natacha n’attacha pas son chat Poucha qui s’échappa. Cela fâcha Sacha qui chassa Natacha.

    - In English, this equates to "Natacha did not tie up her cat Poucha, who escaped. That angered Sacha who chased Natacha."

    C. Ton thé t’a-t-il ôté ta toux ? disait la tortue au tatou.– Mais pas du tout, dit le tatou, je tousse tant que l’on m’entend de Tahiti à Tombouctou.

    - In English, this equates to ""Your tea took away your cough?" said the tortoise to the armadillo. "Not at all," said the armadillo. "I am coughing so much that you can hear me from Tahiti to Timbuktu!""

    D. Combien coûtent ces six saucissons-ci ? Ces six saucissons-ci sont six sous.

    - In English, this equates to "How much do these six sausages here cost? These six sausages here are six pennies."

    E. Mon père est le maire, mon frère est un masseur.

    - In English, this equates to "My father is the mayor, my brother is a massage therapist."

    F. Poisson sans boisson, c'est poison.

    - In English, this equates to "Fish without drink, it's poison."



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

    • Quel son était le plus difficile à prononcer pour vous ? (Which sound was the most difficult for you to pronounce?)
    • Quel virelangue était la 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 hello and goodbye to someone my age or younger, my professor, an adult, or someone I don't know.
    • I can introduce myself and others.
    • I can respond to an introduction.
    • I can greet and take leave from someone using polite rehearsed behaviors.