Broken Rules: Learn how to say Snow Plow

Some people like to say that “rules are made to be broken.” Well that’s certainly how it seems to be with the English language sometimes! Just when you learn a pronunciation rule, it seems there is a group of words that break that rule.

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This often happens with words that have the same spelling, but are pronounced completely differently. In this video, we’re going to talk about that wintertime white stuff – snow – and the phrases and sounds that go along with it.

If this video was helpful, my free pronunciation guide and accent screening can help you with these sounds and more. Check it out at


Smell Your Way to Clearer American Pronunciation

You’ve been working on your American pronunciation, but maybe you’re not having the success you had hoped for, and you don’t think that your American accent is improving. You may find that smelling your way to clearer speech is just the tip you needed!

Spring Has Sprung! What Did That Bird Do?

Episode #14: American Accent: What’s Growing in Your Speech Garden?



Easter Bunny or Easter Rabbit? American Pronunciation of Easter words

Are you AT work or IN work? Figuring out Prepositions of Place

American Pronunciation of Stare and Steer: What’s the Difference?

Welcome! In this video, you get some American pronunciation practice as we talk about the difference between the words stare and steer. We’ll talk about the double meanings of each word and how they are pronounced, and you will improve your American accent as you learn how to say each sound.


Episode #1 – Your New Year’s American Pronunciation goals



Hi, It’s Lisa Scott with Have you written your New Year’s Resolutions or set those New Year’s goals? I will tell you in just a minute why that might not be a good idea.

But first, I want to share with you how excited I am about some of the new developments we have here at Accentuate. One of the biggest changes is that we are moving to much more video this year. When you ask pronunciation questions, it is so much easier for me to explain them when you can actually see what I’m explaining. So, starting today, the majority of my blog posts will be videos rather than written articles.

You have asked for some lower priced video trainings, and those are coming as well. I have an all new 6 week series that is almost ready for you, so I’ll be sharing the details very soon. I can tell you that since my birthday is at the end of January, I will be running a very special birthday sale as I launch this new series.

And lastly, I have started a Facebook page that is just for us to talk about your questions and concerns regarding American pronunciation. So, come visit me at and tell your friends to join us too. Introduce yourself, share your concerns with learning English, and ask your questions about pronunciation, grammar, intonation – whatever is on your mind! I will try to answer simple questions on the page and I will choose some of them as topics for future blog post videos. I’m really looking forward to connecting with you there!

And now, back to my comment at the beginning on why New Year’s Resolutions might not be a good idea.  People make them every year and every year they get frustrated because they just can’t stick with them. But what if instead of focusing on the specific goal, you focus on the outcome, or who you want to be when you meet that goal. Let’s take the example of setting a goal to reduce your accent. You could set a measurable goal of improving 50% on a pronunciation test, and that would be great. But you don’t really care if you score 50% higher on that test, do you? What you really care about is being understood more easily, not having to repeat yourself, and feeling confident when you speak English. Right? Those are outcomes rather than goals, and it is those outcomes that truly make you feel like you’ve accomplished your goal.

So, how do you change your focus? First, you think about your goals for the year one by one and think about how you will be different when you meet that goal. What will you gain by meeting that goal? What will the outcome be? That is your true motivator and the way to help you stay focused to accomplish that goal.

And if one of your goals is to improve your American pronunciation, and the outcome you are looking for is to be understood more easily and feel more confident when you speak, then I hope you will be an active part of our community this year. Watch these videos, share your questions on the facebook page, and let me know what I can do to serve you as you work towards the outcomes you desire in 2013.

See you next time!



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!

Have Fun! Improve Your Spoken English by Playing Games

Once you’ve completed an accent reduction course and learned some new sounds, you need to practice those sounds to improve your spoken English and make it a habit in everyday conversation.

Of course, you can plan get-togethers with your English speaking friends, and a fun activity to get everyone talking is to play a board game. Many board games will encourage interaction, and they are all great for practicing conversation, but there are a few that are particularly good for building your English pronunciation and vocabulary skills.

The harder you have to think about what you are going to say, the harder it is to remember to use the correct English pronunciation. That is what makes these games such great practice. And, they’re lots of fun!

One of my personal favorites is Taboo. The object of the game is to get your teammates to guess a word written on your card, but you can’t use the most common words to describe it. You have to find another way to tell what it is so your teammates can guess. For example, you may have the word “ladder”, but you can’t use the words “rungs, steps, paint, or high” to describe it. So you might say “an object you lean against your house when you need to get on the roof.” Get the idea?

Another great game is Balderdash. You are given a card with a word on it and several definitions, but only one is the correct one. You also make up a definition for the word and ask the other players which one they think is correct. You get points for bluffing, or fooling, them when they choose your definition.

A third great game to build your vocabulary, descriptive skills, and knowledge of American culture, is Apples to Apples. In this game, each person gets noun cards with a person, place, or thing listed on them. An adjective card is placed in the middle and each person selects the noun card that they think goes best with the adjective. Here’s the fun part: each person has to explain why they think their card is the best, and the person selected as the judge gets to decide whose is the best.

While these games are readily available and not too expensive, you could make up your own version of each of them with a good dictionary and some paper. To make a game similar to Taboo, you can choose some common words and list the words used in the definitions as the ” not allowed ” words.

A home version of Balderdash can be played with just a dictionary. You choose a word from the dictionary, read its definition, a definition of another word on the same page, and one you make up on your own.

For a comparison game like Apples to Apples, you need a stack of index cards and a list of nouns and adjectives. Write one word on each card, keeping the nouns and adjectives separate. Pass out five noun cards to each player, put an adjective card in the middle, and you’re ready to go.

So, whether you choose the convenience of purchasing ready-made games or you decide to spend the time to make them up yourself, language games are a fun way to enjoy time with friends and to improve spoken English.

Not sure how to improve your English pronunciation? Why don’t you take my free online speech and accent screening at It only takes a few minutes, and you will get free tips on exactly which sounds to work on.

  • 7/9/2010 8:11 PM Jeff Brunson wrote:
    Apples to Apples is one of the most fun boxed games I’ve ever played. Played it only once with some life-long friends at our annual reunion. I’m amazed at the possibilities of such games to help one with communication and connection thru improving language skills.
  • 7/10/2010 2:05 PM Melanie McGhee wrote:
    I have to agree with Jeff here. I love your out of the box approach.