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Whether a native English speaker or one who has learned it as a second language, this is a great time to celebrate the most commonly used sound in the English language! The schwa is a reduced vowel sound that occurs in unstressed syllables, with something like an “uh” sound that hardly even requires the mouth to be open. 

The schwa sound can be represented by each of the five vowels in English. For example, the ‘a’ in the word ‘around’ makes a schwa sound. But it can also be represented by an ‘e’, as in the second syllable of ‘chicken’, in addition to the ‘i’ in ‘possible’, the ‘o’ in ‘mother’ or the ‘u’ in ‘stadium’.

It’s a rather versatile sound, the schwa. And because of its function and versatility, it’s obvious that this sound needs to be featured and celebrated with its own event – National Schwa Day!

History of National Schwa Day

The inaugural celebration of National Schwa Day took place in 2023 when it was founded in association with author and literacy specialist, Yvette Manns. The day was established after the release of an important book written by Manns and dedicated to the subject: The Not-So-Lazy Schwa. While written as a book for children, it could certainly be enjoyed by schwa users of all ages – especially those who are learners or practicers of English!

It was decided that National Schwa Day would take place on this date because the words “April” and “seven” both contain the schwa sound and offer a perfect opportunity to practice this delightful part of the language. And that makes this an ideal time for anyone and everyone who is learning or speaking English to make a big deal out of the schwa.

How to Celebrate National Day

Show some love and appreciation for this sound that has sometimes been referred to as ‘lazy’ but actually provides an important place in the English language. Consider participating with some of these ideas to get started with:

Read The Not-So-Lazy Schwa

Get on board with National Schwa Day by picking up a copy of the book, whether at a public library, a locally owned bookstore or purchasing it online. Then, settle down with a favorite child, language learner or just yourself and have a fun time reading. The story features a character who has been labeled as “lazy” but who actually works very hard! Those who are interested in hearing the book read aloud can search online to find versions on YouTube or other video formats.

Practice the Schwa with Students

While it’s certainly permissible for anyone to get involved with celebrating National Schwa Day, this event is particularly beloved by parents and teachers who are helping their students with the English language. This is a great time to get creative with lessons and activities that focus on the schwa sound. Encourage students to practice saying the sound, as well as writing it – which looks basically like an upside down letter “e”.

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