English is a Stress-Based mostly Language – A Device For Learners of English As a Second Language (ESL)


English is a tough language. It doesn’t sound the best way it seems. Learners are sometimes annoyed making an attempt to know what others are saying and too self-conscious about their accents to talk. The excellent news for ESL college students is that one tiny piece of data takes the thriller out of the spoken language: English is a stress-based language. What which means and the way that impacts college students is straightforward and enjoyable to discover.

Learners are tragically misinformed concerning the significance of particular person sounds in dialog. It is very important know that native audio system discover accents charming and communication doesn’t break down due to them. The seat of miscommunication in English is just not in mispronounced letters, however in absent or misplaced phrase stress. If the boss referred to as for a gathering on ‘VENS day’, everybody would present up the day after Tuesday, but when he stated the assembly was on ‘vensDAY,’ nobody would know when the assembly was, and so they could not guess. The reality is, native English audio system have great latitude for accommodating sound variations, and don’t depend on good pronunciation for understanding.

The Affect of Phrase Stress in ESL – Maria’s Story

Maria is Latino, plucky and lovely. Her heat and allure transcend any language or cultural limitations. She moved to Canada from Central America a few years in the past along with her husband and 4 young children. As is usually the case, she was extraordinarily remoted in her new nation. Her youngsters discovered English at school and her husband discovered it at work. 13 years after leaving El Salvador, she spoke no English and had no mates. Fortuitously, Maria did perceive that home violence is just not tolerated in Canada. When she had lastly had sufficient, she left her abusive husband and began a brand new life for herself and her youngsters.

Maria rented an house, utilized for social help, and enrolled at school. Her sort, effervescent character was an asset to our ESL classroom. However at some point she arrived unhappy and depressed. Everybody observed. “What’s the matter?” they needed to know. Maria informed a narrative each scholar might relate to. It was her eldest son’s sixteenth birthday and he or she needed to take her household out to have a good time. She could not afford to take everybody to dinner, so she took them out for breakfast. When it was her flip to order, the server requested what she needed and he or she stated, “Espresso an pekundaneesh.” The server requested her to repeat her order. Starting to really feel uncomfortable, Maria repeated, “Espresso an pekundaneesh.” The server turned on her heel and walked away, scoffing, “Why doncha communicate English?”

Maria was devastated. The celebration was ruined. She informed the category she was by no means going to a restaurant once more. After we talked about her disappointment, we resumed our lesson on Phrase Stress. Maria discovered that there’s one and just one ‘harassed’ syllable in any phrase. She discovered that the harassed syllables are greater, longer and louder than different syllables, and if the phrase stress is lacking or within the improper place, native audio system can’t perceive what’s being stated irrespective of how completely the person sounds are pronounced. On the finish of the day Maria stood up and shouted, “PE can DA nish!” She understood the lesson – and the breakdown that occurred within the restaurant the day earlier than.

Monday morning Maria bounced into the classroom, her cheerful, energetic self once more. Everybody observed. How was your weekend? In her lovely Spanish accent, along with her hand on her hip and her index finger wagging, Maria stuffed us in. “Yesta day, I am going again to dat restrant, I see dat woman and I say to she – I need to PEcan Danish! An she deliver me.”

The group went wild. When her classmates’ clapping and cheering died down, she made a sleek curtsy earlier than taking her seat. I’ve solely an inkling of the braveness it took for her to return and face that waitress, however her overcome phrase stress and eating places was a triumph for us all.

The Lesson: English is a Stress-based Language

Most languages are sound-based, the place every letter represents a special sound and each syllable is equally necessary. When East Indians, Arabs or Asians communicate, they sound like stitching machines to native English audio system. Native audio system cannot hear the ‘stress’ as a result of there is no (other than the nervousness everybody feels about not having the ability to perceive what’s going on). Phrase stress works in a different way in Spanish, French and German than in English. “Ze frENCH have ze acCENT on ze deffeRENT syllaBLE” – once more charming.

Phrase stress is so necessary in English that if the stress will get moved round, the phrase modifications that means.

PROduce is a noun that means fruit and greens, and proDUCE is a verb which means to fabricate. CONtent is a noun for what’s inside one thing and conTENT means comfortable.

There may be just about no indication how a phrase goes to sound from its spelling, however its context, or the phrases round it, can usually give a clue.

Rule of Thumb

80% of two-syllable nouns have the stress on the primary syllable.

TEAcher, STUdent, DOCtor, RUler, COffee, ANgel, PEOple, PAper, PENcil, SUgar, ORange…

Conversely, most two-syllable verbs have the stress on the second syllable.


For phrases longer than two syllables, sorry, you might be by yourself.

HOspital, TRIangle, baNAna, poSItion, tangeRINE, engiNEER


The that means in English is just not within the manufacturing of particular person sounds however to find the right syllable to pronounce greater, longer and louder than the remainder of the phrase.

ESL college students can cease worrying about their accents. Accents do not forestall ESL college students from being understood, and native English audio system discover them charming.

LEARners should GEnerate EMphasis to be sucCESStotally belowSTOOD.


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