Author: British Council | Uploaded on 1 August 2022

 

In English, the words we stress in sentences are important. Stress is often used to emphasise one part of a sentence or to show particular meaning.

Write this sentence two times on the board. 

‘No, he went to Cape Town last Friday.’

‘No, he went to Cape Town last Friday.’

Say the sentence two times, each time stressing the word in bold. 

Ask: ‘What do you notice about the two sentences?’ Say the sentences again, if necessary. Underline the words in bold if necessary.

Elicit that in the first sentence the words ‘Cape Town’ are stressed more than the other words because the important information is ‘where’. In the second sentence the word ‘Friday’ has more stress because the key information is ‘when’.

Now write on the board:

He went to Nairobi last Friday.

Ask learners to choose which of the other sentences would be the best response. Elicit that it would be the first sentence as the place is different.

To practise this, write this sentence on the board:

He went to Cape Town by train last Friday.

Say: ‘I will give you information for a response. You need to say the sentence with the stress in the correct place.’ 

Say: ‘not she’

Learners should say: He went to Cape Town by train last Friday.

Say: ‘not Thursday’

Learners should say: He went to Cape Town by train last Friday.

Say: ‘not plane’

Learners should say: He went to Cape Town by train last Friday.

Glossary

Elicit: How a teacher gets information from learners e.g. asking questions, prompting.

Response: Answer, feedback.

Stress: Emphasis given to certain syllables in words. In English, stress is produced with a longer, louder and higher pitched sound than unstressed sounds.