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Teaching Pronunciation


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by Lauren Randolph

In teaching pronunciation, it is helpful to include listening discrimination (can the learner distinguish between different sounds, stress patterns, etc?) and speaking (can the learner produce the sounds, stress patterns, etc?).

Below are a two basic steps to introducing word stress to your learners and some suggested listening and speaking activities for reinforcement.

Step One

Introduce your learners to the concept of the syllable. They need to know that a syllable is a part of a word and each syllable has a vowel sound. 

Listening Activity: Have your learners listen to the following words and clap out the syllables:

                        # of syllables

  1. tea             ________

  2. rice            ________

  3. coffee        ________

  4. ordered      ________

  5. pizza          ________

  6. server         ________

Speaking Activity: Using the words above, have your learner role play ordering food in restaurant.

Listening Activity: Read the word pairs and ask your learners if the word have the same number or different number of syllables.

  1. act             actor

  2. say             essay

  3. bank          bank

  4. decide       decided

Speaking Activity: Have your learners put new vocabulary words on index cards, read them aloud and sort them into groups by the number of syllables

Step Two

Introduce your learner to the concept of syllable stress. Make sure your learners know that any word with 2 or more syllables has one syllable that is stressed or stronger (the stressed syllable sounds louder and slower).

Listening Activity: Read the following word pairs and ask your learners if the word pairs have the same stress patterns or different stress patterns?

  1. proDUCE              PROduce

  2. PRESent               presENT

  3. DESert                  deSSERT                  

Listening Activity: Read the following words and ask your learners to group the words according to their stress patterns:

ticket               airplane            arrive               enjoy               passport           weather

Stress on the first syllable                               Stress on the second syllable


TICKet                                                            arRIVE


Speaking Activity: Have your learners describe their dream vacation using the above words.

Listening Activity: Create a Bingo game for your learners using words whose meaning vary only in word stress or in number of syllables:

produce (noun)      produce (verb)

comedy                 committee

say                         essay

present  (noun)      present (verb)

dessert (noun)       desert

Egypt                    a jeep

often                      offend

object (noun)         object (verb)

80                          18

project (noun)        project (verb)


Speaking Activity: Bingo - switch roles and have your learner call the words!

Integrate word stress with new vocabulary:

Once your learners can determine number of syllables and distinguish between stress patterns, you can start to incorporate word stress whenever new vocabulary is introduced.

For example, have your learners create a checklist for all new vocabulary. Whenever new vocabulary is generated, word stress should be included. Encourage your learners to use an online dictionary with audio pronunciation. The following is sample vocabulary log:

New word: committee


Meaning:               a group of people who do a particular job or make decisions

Usage:                   noun

# of Syllables:       3

Stress Pattern:       comMITtee


On a final note regarding language learning – strive for clarity not perfection and the enjoy the journey!


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