Sentence Stress Exercises

Written by pamela ann ludwig
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Sentence Stress Exercises
Partner work can help your students practice sentence stress. (students image by Ivanna Buldakova from

Emphasising or "stressing" a word in a sentence can alter its meaning. Language learners often face difficulties when learning where to place stress in a sentence or word. Help your students through this process by presenting games and exercises specifically focused on pronouncing and recognising stressed pronunciation in their target language.

Pronouncing Stress

Help your students recognise pronounced stress in words by clapping or tapping on the desks with pencils to emphasise the stressed syllables. Write a short paragraph on the board. Read each sentence, exaggerating the stressed syllables and clapping to make them more pronounced. Have your students repeat each sentence one at a time after you, and have them clap in time to the syllables as well. You can turn this exercise into a game; if a student claps on the wrong syllable, he will be "out."

Recognising Stress

Help your students associate word stress and pronunciation. Provide your students with a text and have them listen to the text on a recording, or recite it yourself. As your students read along, have them mark the stress of the syllables on their papers. Have your students indicate the stress by drawing large dots over stressed syllables and small dots over unstressed syllables. Demonstrate how to do this on a whiteboard. Write the word in black and the dots in a separate colour. After your students have completed the exercise, write the text on the board and ask some students to volunteer to fill in the stress on the board. Let the students correct one another if they make mistakes.

Pair Practice

Require your students to read in pairs. This exercise will give students the chance to practice their pronunciation, listening and reading skills. Give each student a list of words and sentences. Make sure each sentence has the proper punctuation so students know where to put the stress when they read. Have one student read the words and sentences while her partner marks the stress on the words. As your students work together, go around the class and observe, making corrections and answering questions as needed. Give both students a chance to read the sentences and mark the stress. Each student will need to make an effort to correctly pronounce the stress so his partner can recognise it, as well as listen to his partner in order to mark the stress in the appropriate place.

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