Posts Tagged ‘STRESS SHIFT’

This next pronunciation activity is based on the ELT classic SPOT THE DIFFERENCES and aims at focusing learners on STRESS SHIFT.

Start by explaining to the learners that in certain circumstances stress patterns can change for contrastive purposes. On the board, write the following sentences adapted from Rhymes and Rhythm by Michael Vaughn-Rees (2010) Garnet Education:

So, a poLIceman came to see you, did he?

No, not a policeMAN; it was a policeWOMAN.

 Focus the learners on the rules of stress for compound nouns using the word policeman in first sentence as an example. Highlight to the learners that the main syllable in the first element of a compound noun is the one which has the stress.

Then, draw the learners’ attention to the words policeman and policewoman in the second sentence.  Get them to discuss what they think has happened to the stress patterns in these compounds.  In feedback, emphasise to the learners that compound nous lose their front stress to the main syllable in the second element. Point out that the reverse is also possible i.e. the back stress can take front position in certain circumstances.

Once the learners are clear about what STRESS SHIFT is and how it works, move on to pre-teaching some vocabulary.

Using an avatar maker app., create two pictures with different physical features, clothes and accessories and background (Figure 1).  I have used WeeMee® Avatar Creator, which can be downloaded from free for both apple and android platforms from GooglePlay.


Figure 1

TIP: I like to save those pictures on my smart phone and transter them to My Pictures and print them for my students. However, As learners usually have a smart phone or some form of technology to work with an alternative would be to let them create their own avatars of the boy and use it in this activity. It think they own it more this way.

Divide the class into two halves and give each half one of the pictures above. On the board, write the following table (Figure 2):

Figure 2

Get the learners to look at the pictures and find items for each of the categories in the table. Point out to the learners that physical features refer to hair style, hair colour, eye colour, facial hair etc. Allow the learners to use dictionaries and monitor and assist with language where necessary. Do some examples with the class to start.

Then, give the learners the following context:

An old lady was walking down the street when she had her bag snatched by a young boy. The police interviewed her about the incident and she described the boy like this (Figure 3):

Figure 3

Two days later, the cops made an arrest. However, the boy the police arrested looked very different from the old lady’s discription (Figure 4).

Figure 4

Tell the students that they are going to do a ROLE-PLAY in which some of them will be police officers and some of them will be the old lady.

Their task  is to use STRESS SHIFT to spot as many differences between the pictures as possible. Demonstrate what to do like this (Figure 5):

Figure 5

Highlight the stress shift in the example sentences on the words long and short.

Then, tell the learners to organise themselves into A and B. A’s are the cops and B’s are the old lady.

The learners spot the differences for about 5 minutes using STRESS SHIFT patterns then swap roles. Monitor and make notes of language problems for delayed feedback.


Arizio Sweeting