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Catching the Dream Dakota TESL Conference Stress in the Classroom Missy Slaathaug Pierre, SD October 2008
STRESS AND INTONATION
Why focus on stress and intonation? n n n It is a systematic means of adding meaning in a language. Stress is used differently in different languages. The stress patterns of a person’s native language were learned unconsciously in infancy. Using different patterns can cause problems in comprehensibility.
n n n Second language learners have to work hard to use new stress patterns. Most ESL classes focus only on phoneme practice (specific, individual sounds) and not stress and intonation. Learners can benefit greatly from direct instruction in stress and intonation patterns in English.
SO… teach them! n n First understand some basic underlying principles of how they work. Then look at ways to teach and practice in the classroom.
Basic guidelines for producing stress in English n n n 1. LOUDER (more air = more volume) 2. LONGER (s-t-r-e-t-c-h out the word, especially the vowel sound) 3. PAUSE (before or after the stress to make it stand out)
Listen for the stress: Tell Ann to call me tomorrow. Susan got doughnuts instead of bagels today. Where is my red hat?
Stress on the word level n Sometimes stress can change the grammatical category of a word: – permit, conduct n Stress shifts in compound nouns – White House, a white house
Unstressed Vowels! - are reduced to a schwa sound. /@ / commotion distribution psychology absolute reveal
Sentence level Stress Two main ways stress functions in languages: Syllable timed – each syllable is of equal weight and length
Stress timed – only certain types of words are stressed and words in between are compressed. (pronunci. Ation is im. PORtant. )
Say these two sentences and think about the stress and pronunciation: 1) I can go. 2) I can’t go.
These drills come from Jazz Chants by Carolyn Graham. Dogs eat bones. The dogs will eat the bones. The dogs will have eaten the bones.
Boys need money. The boys will be needing some of their money.
Which word to stress? Stress is linked to meaning, so the English speaker needs to stress the words that carry the most meaning. These rules can help learners decide how to stress. (or at least help teachers understand what is going on. )
Content words are stressed n n n nouns verbs adjectives adverbs question words demonstratives (these, that those) negatives
Function words are not stressed n n n Prepositions pronouns articles (a, an, the) the verb “to be” conjunctions (and, but) auxiliaries (do, can, will, have, etc. )
Stress in a conversation some generalizations: n n Stress content words and not function words. The most important word has the most stress. When a conversation begins, the main focus word is the final content word. New information usually gets the main stress.
X: Y: X: I lost my HAT. What KIND of hat? It was a RAIN hat. What COLOR rain hat? It was WHITE. White with STRIPES. Y: There was a white hat with stripes in the box. X: WHICH box? Y: The one I THREW OUT.
more practice: X: I want to get some lunch. Y: What kind of food do you feel like eating? X: Spicy food. Y: We could get Indian. X: I’m tired of Indian. Let’s go for Thai today.
Special uses for stress n Emphatic stress - to show that the meaning of something is of special importance n Contrastive stress n Corrective stress
Emphatic stress Stress can change the focus and meaning of a sentence. Did YOU drive to Rapid last weekend? Did you DRIVE to Rapid last weekend? Did you drive to RAPID last weekend? Did you drive to Rapid LAST weekend?
Practice: n I thought you were flying to see your mother. n Alice is buying a color TV for school. n I did not say you stole my red hat.
Contrastive Stress the elements which need to be contrasted for clarity. Are you going to go outside or stay inside for recess today? Did you lose your math book or your reading book? Are you walking or taking the bus?
Classroom Techniques n Rubber bands n Kazoos n Jazz chants n Grammar chants n Classroom games and rhymes
Jazz and Grammar Chants: another look Let’s try a few.
The COOKIE JAR CAPER n n n Have students sit in a circle, or at desks Assign numbers to everyone Clap and snap fingers all together, in rhythm Start chanting the following rhyme Have fun!
n n n Who took the cookie from the – cookie jar? Number one took the cookie from the – cookie jar. Who me? Yes, you. Not true! Then who? Number seven took the cookie from the – cookie jar. Who me? Yes, you. Not true! Then who? Number four took the cookie from the – cookie jar. Etc. etc.
The Tale of the Red Hat I did not say you stole my red hat. Maybe you can see the possibilities for roleplay here. Bring in two red hats, a blue hat and another red object. Pre-teach stress, and appropriate responses. – I didn’t steal your red hat. (vary stress) – ______ stole it! – But you think. . .
S takes red hat when T is out of room. T: OK. I need a red hat to begin this lesson. Where is it? The red hat? S: I didn’t steal your red hat. T: I did not say you STOLE my red hat. S: But you think I did something with it? T: Well, maybe you just put it somewhere. Where is it? S: I didn’t steal your red hat. T: I did not say YOU stole the red hat. S: OK, not me, but you think someone did. . Teacher continues until all the words in the sentence have been stressed and appropriate responses given. Can be lots of fun and very active - see handout for more details.
Resources: n n n Essential Linguistics: What You Need to Know to Teach Reading, ESL, Spelling, Phonics and Grammar by Yvonne and David Freeman, Heinemann, c. 2004 Clear Speech From the Start: Basic Pronunciation and Listening Comprehension in North American English by Judy Gilbert, Cambridge University Press, c. 2001. Clear Speech, ibid. Pronunciation Plus by Hewings and Goldstein, Cambridge University Press, c. 1998. Jazz Chants, by Carolyn Graham, Oxford University Press, c. 2001. Grammar Chants, by Carolyn Graham, Oxford University Press, c. 1993.
Questions? Comments? Email me at missydktesl@gmail. com Thank you!