Session 4

Welcome to The Teachers’ Room - the show all about teaching practice. Grab a cup of coffee, pull up an armchair and relax. Learn something new, remember something fundamental or just have a giggle.

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

The Teachers' Room

Teaching word stress

Why are Dan and Sian humming, whistling, bouncing and playing with a rubber band? Find out in this video.

Watch the video below

Teaching Word Stress

Word stress is important – incorrectly pronounced words can cause misunderstandings, confusion, embarrassment and frustration. Here are a few of our top tips for teaching word stress effectively:

Mark word stress
Apart from word stress focussed lessons, it’s always a good idea to mark word stress when teaching new vocabulary. It's particularly important to focus on the items where mispronunciation will cause an issue. Use a visually clear and consistent style. Circles, squares, lines… red, blue, green – but whatever it is, stick to it!

Learner independence
Help learners become more independent by getting them to make a written record of word stress, as well as showing them how to identify word stress in a dictionary. That way, when the apocalypse comes and mobile communication finally fails, they will still be able to cope.

Major and minor stress
More capable learners will be familiar with and have a better understanding of word stress, so consider teaching them about minor and major stress in more complicated words.

Make it memorable and fun
Use physical techniques to make learning and practising word stress memorable and fun. Clap, tap, hum, whistle, sing, whisper, shout, use the rubber band method, and bounce!

Teach the rules
Teach and/or encourage noticing of word stress rules where possible. This reduces the workload for both you and the students and allows them to use the rules outside the classroom in future.

To do

Try our quiz to see if you've picked up our tips.

The Teachers' Room Quiz

3 Questions

Check what you've learned by selecting the correct answer to each question.

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Get involved

Well, those were just a few ideas from the team here at BBC Learning English, but we know that you teachers out there have lots of fantastic ideas too, and we’d love you to share them with us and everybody else.

If you have a great tip or technique for teaching word stress, or anything else, please email us at learningenglish@bbc.co.uk using 'The Teachers Room - word stress' in the subject box. We'll pick out our favourites and your tip could be posted here on this page, or may even be mentioned in our show. 

We are also looking for video tips to include in the programme. If you would like to give your teaching tip via an online video call please include a line in your email that lets us know that you're interested in this.

Your Emails

Anja, Germany

My name is Anja and I have been teaching English here in Germany for over 15 years now. And so, as you can probably guess, I have developed one or two strategies to teach things. Watching your show on teaching word stress set me thinking about my own methods.
I have been teaching some classes of mine for quite a while and so the student/teacher relationship is quite friendly and relaxed. We laugh a lot and so I thought I could as well sing.
There were some words in the textbook that seemed to be quite a challenge for my students. One of them being bureaucracy. Clapping the rhythm of the word didn’t quite do the trick so I created a rap-style song repeating the word over and over again, adding some others to go with it and voila they could pronounce the word – and will probably never ever forget how to say it … and the way I looked rapping along …

A great tip Anja. Thank you for writing to us.

Smiley, Vietnam

When teaching word stress, I usually use slightly gestures with hands. After watching yours, I found they are more impressing. Then I try your gestures for my students, and I get better results. For example, I teach new word "do karate" => oOo. My students' hands are up with O (ra:) and down with o (ka, te). When all students do this action, they all seem to do morning exercise with more energy. Very fun. I easily recognize this change in their faces. :)

Next day, I ask them about "karate" stress, most of them remember easily and willing to do exercise again. :)

Thank you, Smiley. Accompanying a sound with a gesture is a great way to help students remember. Nice work. 

End of Session 4

Next up is Learners' Questions, our brand new series, where we choose one question sent in by an English language learner, and provide an answer. What will this week's question be? Join us in Session 5 to find out.

Session Vocabulary

  • Teaching word stress

    • Mark word stress consistently
    • Encourage learner independence
    • Mark major and minor stress
    • Make it memorable and fun using physical methods
    • Teach the rules