Oatmeal: Breakfast Food or an Exercise in American Pronunciation?

Who would have thought that talking about breakfast would be the perfect opportunity to practice your American pronunciation? Just when you thought you were only trying to fill your stomach, you learn that you can also fill your mind with a great word for pronunciation practice.


Oatmeal, the breakfast staple in many cultures.

Yes, that humble little word can give your mouth a workout, not only as you chew your food, but also as you practice moving your lips to make the correct sounds.

To get the American pronunciation correct, you want to start by rounding your lips to make the long O sound to say oat. Then, rather than releasing the t on the end, you will catch that sound in your throat, like the sound in the middle of the word “uh-oh”. Alternately, you may put the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth as if you were going to make a T sound, but don’t release it.

Now, it’s time to smile wide as you say meal, holding that long E sound for just a second before dropping your jaw slightly to say the ul sound on the end of the word. You end the word with a quick schwa sound followed by an unreleased L. Oatmeal. Try saying it slowly: oatmeal.

Now say it a little faster: oatmeal


Here are a few sentences to get some more practice with those long O and long E sounds:

  • Joe eats oatmeal before he goes to sleep.
  • Please eat your oatmeal and then go to school.
  • I feel like eating oatmeal in the snow.

Now that you’ve had the chance to practice it, I hope you’ll think about the American pronunciation of oatmeal the next time you’re fixing breakfast.

Don’t like oatmeal? Leave me a comment and tell me your favorite breakfast food. We just might discuss its pronunciation in an upcoming blog post!

To hear the podcast and practice along with me, click below:

  • 2/5/2011 11:35 AM Sandra wrote:
    Elisa and I love to eat oatmeal in a snow day!