Tongue Exercises for Articulation

Here's a series of speech drills for articulation that have been turned into an action story to make them more appealing for students to do.

It's called Mrs Tongue Does Her Housework, and I know from experience it's fun, effective and, it works equally well across all age groups. 

Once you're familiar with the sequence of the story and the exercises you'll find you can add or subtract segments to suit whomever you are working with. 

Thanks, mother-in-law!

My mother-in-law, Win, introduced me to Mrs Tongue quite some time ago. Over her many years (50+) of teaching speech and drama, it was one of her favorite methods for assuring crisply pronounced words. She used it with her English as a Second Language (ESL) students, as well as with both adult and much younger pupils needing help with clarity.

With the advent of the net I realized there were multiple versions! It was not, as I initially thought, exclusive to Win. Instead it was one of those adaptable evergreen resources beloved by teachers everywhere.

Vector graphic - Red open mouth with extended tongue

Did you know difficulties with enunciation (pronouncing words), could be caused by a lazy tongue?
The tongue is primarily muscle and like any other muscle, to keep fit it needs a regular work out!

The words of the story are in italics. The instructions or action for each segment is below.

Mrs Tongue Does Her Housework

a child's storybook pink doll's house

Mrs Tongue lives in her house, the mouth.

Every morning she mops it from ceiling to floor.

First she sweeps her mop from right to left.

Instruction

Run your tongue in a full circle around your cheek walls and across the front of your top and bottom teeth. Repeat 3 times.

Next she sweeps her mop from left to right.

Instruction

Reverse the direction of the circle. Repeat 3 times.

Now she dusts the furniture.

Instruction

Sweep your tongue as rapidly as you can from side to side across the upper teeth. Repeat at least 10 times.

Then she shakes out the rug out the window.

Instruction

Stick the tongue out, extended as far as you can, and move it rapidly up and down. Repeat at least 10 times.

Then she nails up some pictures in the back of her house.

Instruction

Repeat the sound k, k, k, k, k, k ...

Next she nails up some pictures in the front.

Instruction

Repeat the sound t, t, t, t, t, t ...

Then she remembers she needs to set her clock.

Instruction

Repeat the sounds t, k, t, k, t, k ...

Mrs Tongue looks at the flowers by her front door. They need watering.

Instruction

Repeat the sound sh,sh,sh,sh,sh,sh ...

Goodness gracious! Mrs Tongue sees fallen leaves on the steps. They need sweeping up.

Instruction

Repeat the sound f,f,f,f,f,f ...

Lastly she sweeps away the cobwebs from around the front door.

Instruction

Stick the tongue out as far as you can and sweep it from right to left around the outside of your lips. Repeat 3 times, then reverse the direction and repeat 3 times.

After all that work Mrs Tongue is exhausted. She comes back inside, closes the door and goes to sleep.

Instruction

Pull your tongue in and close your mouth.

Note

If you are doing this exercise with a class and they're particularly self-conscious reassure them that everyone looks funny doing it. Demonstrate it yourself! I do. The teacher poking out her tongue, waving it around is always good for a giggle, and it breaks the ice.

For more diction drills:

You'll find more tongue exercises for articulation on this page of tongue twisters.

Choose the ones that will help you overcome your known pronunciation problems and repeat them daily along with 'Mrs Tongue Does Her Housework'. If regularly done, you'll hear improvements quite rapidly.

Vector image - red mouth and tongue


You'll love my ebook ...

... if you lead a public speaking group & you're always on the look-out for activities to improve confidence and delivery!

Public speaking games e-book cover

28 public speaking games (with many more variations and extensions), full instructions, PLUS printable topic, tongue twister, poem and image sheets.

A complete one-stop-select-print-go public speaking resource for busy people.

Find out more

Other pages to help with effective speech delivery: