In the last installment of ESL Online Magazine, we introduced many ways that bread has found its way into the English language. If you missed it, you can read it here. In today’s post, I’d like to share my favorite bread recipe and a poem that you can use to improve your pronunciation, though not necessarily in that order.
Poetry and Pronunciation
Poems are not only an art to be enjoyed but a perfect tool for gaining a feel for the rhythm of English. Stress, rhythm, and intonation are crucial elements of the English language. Unlike some other languages, syllables in English are not given equal attention. Typically, content words such as nouns and verbs are given more emphasis than prepositions, articles and helping verbs. To speak more like a native, English language learners should concentrate on adopting more natural sounding stress and rhythm. Although all texts are read with stress and rhythm, poems capitalize on this feature. By paying attention to the word (and the syllables of those words) that are stressed, you can improve your pronunciation and become more comprehensible to native speakers.
In this poem, the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, writes about a piece of bread that I imagine as being similar to the bread featured in this post’s photo. Fairies are small imaginary creatures with wings. This poem invites the child to imagine being invited by a fairy to sit with them among nature (the shade of pine trees), breaking bread, and listening to their stories.
“Fairy Bread” by Robert Louis Stevenson
Come up here, O dusty feet!
Here is fairy ready to eat.
Here in my retiring room,
Children ,you may dine
On the golden smell of broom
And the shade of pine;
And when you have eaten well,
Fairy stories hear and tell.
- Listen to the poem while you read it. (See link below)
- Listen again. Mark the words that are given stress in each line (and the syllables in those words).
- Listen again, line by line, speaking along with the recorded version. Try to keep pace.
- Practice repeatedly until you can say it with the same stress, rhythm and pace as the recording below.
- Now try recording yourself as your read it with the original. How did you do?
Recipe for Fairy Bread
I’m not sure if Fairy Bread has any association with this poem; however, in Austrailia and some other countries, Fairy Bread is a special treat for children and very simple to make. Here’s a WikiHow that gives directions.
My Favorite Bread Recipe
I have never tried fairy bread, but I do have a bread recipe that I quite enjoy. It comes from the Eating Well website. It’s a quick bread, so no yeast is required; however, it tastes very much like a yeast bread. If you need to convert these standard American measurements to metric, here is a site that can help you do so.
Honey Oat Quick Bread from Eating Well (eatingwell.com)
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, or quick-cooking (not instant) oats, divided
- 1 1/3 cups whole-wheat flour, or white whole-wheat flour (see Tip)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 8 ounces (scant 1 cup) nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup canola oil (or other vegetable oil)
- 1/4 cup clover honey, or other mild honey
- 3/4 cup nonfat or low-fat milk
- Position rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375°F. Generously coat a 9-by-5-inch (or similar size) loaf pan with cooking spray or oil. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon oats in the pan. Tip the pan back and forth to coat the sides and bottom with oats.
- Thoroughly stir together whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Using a fork, beat the remaining 1 cup oats, yogurt, egg, oil and honey in a medium bowl until well blended. Stir in milk. Gently stir the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture just until thoroughly incorporated but not overmixed (excess mixing can cause toughening). Immediately scrape the batter into the pan, spreading evenly to the edges. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon oats over the top.
- Bake the loaf until well browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. (It’s normal for the top to crack.) Let stand in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a table knife around and under the loaf to loosen it and turn it out onto the rack. Let cool until barely warm, about 45 minutes.