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Eduling Tiny Lesson: Word Stress and Pronunciation

Eduling Speak has started sharing tiny lessons to help you with your pronunciation. The first 10 lessons will focus on the important topics of stress, intonation, and pausing. To listen to these lessons, open the app Eduling Speak (Download here), click lessons, choose the one you'd like to listen to. After you listen to a lesson, you may listen to it again and follow the transcript of the lesson. Here's an example.

English Word Stress 1

Are you looking for ways to improve your pronunciation in English? Learning to pronounce new words in any language is difficult because there are so many sounds and ways to say things that are different from our first language. Let’s learn a few rules and techniques to practice English word stress in today’s tiny lesson.

In English, words may have one syllable such as dog, cat, rain, blue, and so on. Other words have more than one syllable, such as teacher, explain, and America. Among these syllables, there is one that receives the primary stress. The sound in this syllable is longer, louder, and higher in pitch. For example: TEA-cher, ex-PLAIN, A-ME-ri-ca. To remind yourself to make the stressed sound longer, louder, and higher in pitch, you can move your two hands further apart or stretch a rubber band during the pronunciation of the sound.

There are some rules on where to put stress on English words, but there are a lot of exceptions, too. In today’s lesson, let’s practice several common stress patterns.

1. Many nouns and adjectives with two syllables have the stress on the first syllable.

TEA-cher, STU-dent, BEAU-ty, CO-ffee, CO-lor, WA-ter, MU-sic, HA-ppy, FUN-ny

2. Many verbs with two syllables have the stress on the second syllable.

pre-SENT, de-SIGN, re-SIDE, de-CIDE, ex-PLAIN, com-PLAIN, for-GET, de-CLARE, dis-CUSS

3. Interestingly, many paired nouns and verbs that are spelled the same are pronounced differently. You pronounce PRE-sent as a noun and pre-SENT as a verb. The noun EX-port is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable while the verb ex-PORT has the stress on the second syllable. Other examples include: a RE-cord and to re-CORD; an OB-ject and to ob-JECT; a CON-vert and to con-VERT; an IN-crease and to in-CREASE

4. Words with -tion or -sion have the stress on the preceding syllable.

NA-tion, in-ter-NA-tion-al, MEN-tion, AC-tion, SEC-tion, e-du-CA-tion, oc-CA-sion, VI-sion, MIS-sion

5. Words with -ity have the stress on the preceding syllable.

a-BI-li-ty, QUA-li-ty, pro-ba-BI-li-ty, u-ni-VER-si-ty, se-CU-ri-ty, e-lec-TRIC-i-ty

Practice these words and other words that you’re learning. Find out where the stress is. Use your hands or a rubber band to remind yourself to make the stressed sounds longer, louder, and higher in pitch. Pay attention the next time you record your answers or talk to someone on the Eduling Speak app. And remember to check out other tiny lessons.

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