How S’mores can Improve your American Pronunciation

Today is National Marshmallow Toasting Day. You may wonder what that has to do with your American pronunciation, but I think it is a tasty opportunity to introduce you to a yummy part of American culture, and have a lesson on word contractions as well.

First for the American culture.

I think every American kid who has ever been around a campfire has had at least one s’more. In case you’ve never heard of a s’more, it is a dessert easily assembled outdoors and only requires three ingredients: marshmallows, graham crackers, and milk chocolate bars. The key ingredient is the marshmallow, which must be speared onto a long stick and toasted to perfection over the fire.

“Perfection” is a matter of debate between marshmallow toasting enthusiasts. Some people like their marshmallows slightly toasted, while others burn them to a blackened crisp. I like mine slightly toasted. My kids, however, compete to see who can keep their marshmallow burning the longest without it falling off the stick.

One crucial trick we have learned is that the cheap brands of marshmallows always end up as one huge, sticky glob. Buy the Jet-Puff brand marshmallows if you want to actually get the marshmallows out of the bag and onto the stick to roast them. Roast your marshmallows until they are slightly brown to charred black. The trick is to get them soft and gooey on the inside.

If you have a steady hand and you’re a bit of a pyromaniac, you can rest a graham cracker topped with a chocolate bar on one of the logs while you’re roasting your marshmallow. It’s definitely a balancing act, but if you’re successful, you get yummy, gooey chocolate on your s’more. When your marshmallow is softened, pull it off the stick, place it on a graham cracker, add a piece of chocolate bar, and top it with another graham cracker. Enjoy!

Now for the American pronunciation lesson.

The word s’more is actually a contraction or shortening of two words, much like can’t from can not or we’ll from we will. No one is clear on when this campfire dessert originated, but a recipe was found in a Girl Scout handbook from the 1920’s. Even then, they were referred to as “Some Mores”, as in “they’re so good you’ll want some more.”

Over time, the name was shortened to S’mores, which was just easier and quicker to say. When you say the word S’more, the s and m blend as if it were a consonant cluster, just as in the word smell. So, you can say: I smell s’mores cooking, and the two uses of sm sound exactly the same.

Now, let’s practice using several contractions in one sentence:

We’ll eat s’mores until we can’t eat any more!

For a fun and tasty treat, try making s’mores and let me know how you like them!

Want more tips to improve your American pronunciation? To get your FREE guide, How to Speak English Like an American, just enter your name and e-mail in the box to your right.

  • 8/31/2010 10:24 AM Whitney Ferre’ wrote:
    Lisa, I had an inkling about the source of s’more, but glad to know its Girl Scouts origin. I LOVED s’mores as a kid! I never tried the graham cracker/chocolate balancing act. Thanks for the tip.
  • 8/31/2010 12:53 PM Jeff Brunson wrote:
    Dang. Now I’m hungry for this sweet treat. I’m checking my calendar to see if I have time to go start a campfire in the backyard!
  • 8/31/2010 1:58 PM Sue Painter wrote:
    I didn’t know s’mores came from the Girl Scouts, but wherever they came from they are good!
    Sue Painter
  • 8/31/2010 3:22 PM Terri Brooks wrote:
    Ok, I have to fess up. I’ve never eaten a s’more. 🙂 I like all of the components, but have just never made them. Even as a kid! So definitely this fall, I will have a s’more and think of you Lisa!!
    • 9/1/2010 11:35 AM Lisa Scott wrote:
      Terri,I must admit that I’m surprised, but I do hope you enjoy them!
  • 9/1/2010 8:12 AM Linda Pucci wrote:
    What a creative way to teach about contractions, Lisa. BTW, the 4th component needed is a wet cloth to wipe off our sticky hands!
    • 9/1/2010 11:33 AM Lisa Scott wrote:
      Good point, Linda! 🙂
  • 9/1/2010 10:07 PM Beth Woodward wrote:
    YUM! Have you had GUCCI s’mores? Go to the gourmet aisle in your store and find the BEST chocolate cookies in place of graham crackers and Hershey’s. Add those delicious, heated marshmallows.
  • 9/5/2010 3:17 PM Melanie wrote:
    Yummmmmy! For the last couple of years, the women who have participated in my Fall Women’s Retreat have insisted on s’mores….this makes me look forward to the retreat even more!
  • 10/13/2010 2:45 AM janitorial equipment wrote:
    Good work! Your post is an excellent example of why I keep comming back to read your excellent quality content that is forever updated. Thank you!
  • 10/13/2010 6:21 AM american wrote:
    Learning grammar can be boring but you have found a fun way to teach it and I applaud you. We made s’mores whenever our parents weren’t home.

How Your American Pronunciation Can Explode Like a Volcano

Improving your American pronunciation may seem to be a long process, but sometimes it is much more like a volcano exploding. One day, nothing seems different. And the next day, suddenly, your whole world has changed.

On this day in AD 79, Mt. Vesuvius exploded, leaving a lasting impression as one of the most powerful volcanoes ever recorded. We often think of volcanoes as being sudden and unexpected, but in reality, the pressure is building underground for a long time before anything is ever visible on the surface. There may be a few trickles or warning signs in the few days prior to the big explosion, but for the most part the red hot lava bursts onto the scene rather unexpectedly.

It reminds me of what often happens when you are working on reducing your accent. Thankfully, no one is harmed by burning lava! But, often there is a great deal of change going on just beneath the surface of your brain when you don’t even realize it.

You see, repetition retrains the brain to do things a different way. So, you may be practicing your sounds daily, not sure if it’s making any difference at all. Then, all of sudden, one day you wake up and you just hear the sounds differently.When you speak, you are more confident that the words are coming out correctly, and even other people notice that your speech is clearer.

Just like that. Boom!

You’re on a whole new level with your American pronunciation. You become more tuned into the subtle differences in your speech and the speech of others because you can finally really hear the differences. You don’t have to wait for your speech coach to tell you if you pronounced the word right or wrong because you KNOW. Now, you own the progress you are making as you internalize what you’ve learned in a whole new way.

And, just like the lava flowing down the mountainside, your new speech patterns are unstoppable. The more you speak, the more those new patterns become engrained in your brain. And the more easily they come out every time you speak, the more confident you become.

Have you experienced your “speech volcano” yet? What are you waiting for? I’d love to show you howto have explosive growth in your American pronunciation. Let’s get started!

If you’re not sure what sounds you should be practicing, visit www.losemyaccent.com to sign up for your free accent screening. You can record your voice, send it to me, and I will tell you the top three sounds that will help you to improve your American pronunciation.

Eye Halve a Spelling Chequer Contest

Ever get frustrated trying to improve your spoken English by reading written English? Or wonder why two words that are spelled completely differently are pronounced exactly the same? With certain words, you have to hear them in context in order to figure out which word, and which spelling, was intended.

Today’s entry is a humorous look at how a spelling checker on your computer might substitute correctly spelled words in a completely wrong context. Give yourself a spelling challenge and see if you can figure out how the words really should be spelled.

To make it more fun, I’m turning it into a contest!

Here’s how the contest works: Rewrite the poem with the correct spellings for the context and e-mail it to me at lisa b scott at gmail dot com. From all the correct entries, I will select one winner on Friday to receive a free 30 minute coaching session with me! This is a $50 value! We can work on pronunciation, grammar, idioms, or other English topics. It’s up to you!

Please share this with your friends on FB, Twitter, and other sites; I want as many people as possible to have a chance to win! Good luck!

Here’s the poem:

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rarely ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect in it’s weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

— Sauce unknown

Don’t forget — when you figure it out, e-mail me your answer and check back on Friday to see if you are the lucky winner!

 

  • 8/17/2010 2:16 PM Linda Pucci wrote:
    What a great idea, Lisa!
  • 8/18/2010 8:43 AM Jeff Brunson wrote:
    What fun Lisa! And what a great idea for those you serve by your passionate work. It was also a reminder of how hard my spell chequr makes me think sometimes.
  • 8/18/2010 4:35 PM Terri Brooks wrote:
    What fun, Lisa!! I loved reading the poem and think I have figured out most of them.Thanks for breaking up the day with a little game.

    Terri

  • 8/18/2010 6:09 PM Whitney Ferre wrote:
    That is so fun, Lisa! LOVE the contest. I have had many a funny messages sent and received because of that handy spell checker!
  • 8/19/2010 1:50 PM Melanie McGhee wrote:
    Pretty innovative! Can’t wait to hear the results.
  • 8/19/2010 4:05 PM Beth Woodward wrote:
    You are so creative, both for the contest and the content.
  • 8/26/2010 12:29 PM goldenrule.com wrote:
    This poem really proves how confusing the English language is. As I’m reading this, I’m wondering how anyone ever learns this language. There’s a double meaning to virtually every sound!