Introduction to Word Stress

Here’s a lesson I did with short 20 minute, small group classes this week.


Objective: Introduce students to English word stress

Class Type: Small group, 3-6 people

Duration: 20 minutes

Materials: Whiteboard, Cambridge English Pronunciation in Use Intermediate Lesson 22 pg. 52

  • Warm up:  Typically I will use free conversation or a game. For this lesson, I asked the children “How is the weather today?” and then “Do you like Spring?” (because Spring is starting). Then asked students their favorite season and why.


  • Started with the upper-left part of the whiteboard picture above explaining about how SATurday is correct stress. Then let the students  pronounce Saturday in funny ways for them to hear the stress more clearly (satURday, saturDAY).
  • Then listen and read the dialogue several times, practicing stress in particular words (exaggerating the stressed syllables).

A: When do you beGIN your HOLiday?
B: On the THIRtieth of AUGust.
A: That’s next SATurday.
B: We’re leaving in the afterNOON. We’re coming back in SepTEMber.

  • Moved to the top right of the whiteboard. Concentrating on specific vocabulary especially THIRty/thirTEEN and NINEty/nineTEEN (Korean people especially have problems with pronouncing these numbers. The students could say these VERY well after they understood the stress differences). We continued drilling these vocabulary and then let the students read them on their own (here I began exaggerating the syllables less to make the word seem more natural)
  • Typhoon game. Each of the cards have a number on the back of them (examples such as 10, 15, -10, 1, -15, 18). The students split into two teams. During each turn, a student needs to read one of the cards correctly. After reading correctly, they get whichever number is on the back. After the vocabulary cards are finished, the winner is the team with the most points. (Special rule for noisy classes: -5 points for a noisy team).

Conclusion: I was very happy with this lesson. For most of the classes, the students learned stressed syllables well and had fun during the game. I was especially happy with the improvements of 19/90 and 13/30 which I have seen many students struggle with in the past.