3 Activities To Practise Word Stress
Join a global community of over 200,000 TEFL teachers working throughout the world! Enrol me!
Pronunciation is often overlooked by English as a Foreign Language teachers, to the detriment of their students.
Pronunciation is a vital element of speaking a language in terms of comprehension on the part of the speaker and the listener. Teachers often only consider sounds and accent when it comes to pronunciation.
Just as important, though, is stress – both word stress and sentence stress.
What is word stress?
Word stress is the emphasis we place on a certain syllable of a word when we pronounce it.
For example, parent is pronounced PAIR-rent and not pa-RENT.
In English, word stress can depend on the word class.
An example: record
RE-cord is a noun but re-CORD is a verb.
Why is word stress important?
When speaking, utilizing word stress incorrectly can lead to the listener mishearing or misunderstanding certain words – desert versus dessert, for example.
As you can imagine, this can change the meaning of a sentence entirely.
Even if the speaker is understood correctly, listeners may attach judgement to their consideration of the speaker as a result of their pronunciation. (As much as we like to give the benefit of the doubt to people, we have to accept this to be a sad fact of the world today.)
It is important to incorporate activities which deal with pronunciation, and stress in particular, in the EFL classroom. However, many teachers are not familiar with appropriate activities to teach word stress.
Here are three activities to teach word stress.
3 Activities to teach word stress
Word stress tables
When dealing with word stress, it’s beneficial to draw attention to the differences in stress patterns in word families. When dealing with a topic, choose a group of words which can easily be categorized according to their stress. For example, if you are teaching occupations, you can choose the following word families and their stress patterns:
Oo Ooo oOoo
photo photograph photographer
The students complete the table in their notebooks or it can be done as a class activity by sticking the words on the whiteboard.
You are probably familiar with Bingo, so there should be no need to explain this simple game. For this version, the words in the Bingo grids can either be stress patterns (oO or oOo) or words which correspond to the same stress patterns as the words chosen by the teacher. In other words, the teacher calls out happiness, the students tick off Ooo or teenager.
This activity works well to revise vocabulary that has been learnt recently in class.
Write the vocabulary words you would like to revise on the board in a grid. Divide the class into teams. The teams take turns to choose a word. Then they have 2 minutes (or whatever time limit you want) to write the number of syllables and the stress pattern of the word. They need to pronounce the word correctly. To up the difficulty level, you can ask them to provide another word with the same stress pattern.
Word stress may seem like a simple, and even insignificant, aspect of pronunciation but it is crucial for accurate pronunciation and effective communication. When planning your lessons, don’t forget to include activities like these to practise word stress in the EFL classroom.
The TEFL Academy was the world’s first TEFL course provider to receive official recognition from government regulated awarding bodies in both the USA and UK. This means when you graduate you’ll hold a globally recognised Level 3 (120hr) Certificate or Level 5 (168hr) Diploma, meaning you can find work anywhere and apply for jobs immediately.