You might think discussing football results is a strange way to help learners remember word stress patterns. Read on to find out more.

Word stress in English can be a little tricky for learners.have to identify 2 main features:

They have to identify and record 2 main features:

  1. The number of syllables
  2. The stressed syllable.

There are lots of ways to record this information. Let’s look at a long word like ‘ sophisticated’.

It has 5 syllables and the second one is stressed. You might do something like this:

identify word stress elt

This seems to work quite well as a visual representation of word stress. But, what happens when learners don’t have quick and easy access to their notebooks.

A few days ago, I was having a chat with a colleague about football. We were talking about the results of a few games played the previous night.

Funny, isn’t it? Identifying the number of syllables and stressed syllables is a bit like remembering football results.

I was puzzled by his comment and asked him to explain.

Well, it’s really simple. In football, you have two teams and the result is a combination of two numbers. So, let’s think of a result like Granada 4: Barcelona 2¬†– we can all dream, can’t we?

word stress

Granada 4 Barcelona 2

I still didn’t get what he was talking about.

It’s easy. Granada refers to the number of syllables and Barcelona refers to the stressed syllable.

I had a really dumb look on my face at this point.

He wrote the word impossible on the board.

How many syllables?

So, there are four syllables and the second one is stressed. Granada 4 – Barcelona 2.

The penny finally dropped. The first number refers to the number of syllables and the second refers to the stressed syllable. I use circles but squares work well too.

identify word stress elt

A word like ‘sophisticated’ is a 5 – 3 victory for Barcelona.

Here’s a simple table you could use:

WordStress Pattern / ResultKey
hobby2 - 12-syllable word
Primary stress on 1st syllable
record (verb)2 - 22-syllable word
Primary stress on 2nd syllable
interview3 - 13-syllable word
Primary stress on 1st syllable
attention3 - 23-syllable word
Primary stress on 2nd syllable
disagree3 - 33-syllable word
Primary stress on 3rd syllable
dictionary4 - 14-syllable word
Primary stress on 1st syllable
participant4 - 24-syllable word
Primary stress on 2nd syllable
population4-34-syllable word
Primary stress on 3rd syllable

I’m sure you get the idea. I’m not sure the football results strategy will work for all learners, but it might be a way to get your football-obsessed teenagers¬†paying attention to word stress!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teach English in Spain

Teach English in Spain

Join our mailing list to receive your ebook 'A Short Guide to TEFL' and lots of great resources about Teaching English in Spain.

You have Successfully Subscribed!