Not all languages use word stress but it is very much a part of the English language and therefore something that you should be very aware of, particularly when you are learning new vocabulary.
Watch the video below and listen to the great advice Jessica gives to find out how to best go about learning word stress.
Hello, my name’s Jessica. Preparation is key in any exam and the Cambridge English Speaking Test is no exception. There are lots of factors to consider in the speaking test, for example: pronunciation, intonation, vowel sounds and stress.
Stress is very important; it helps you understand other speakers of English and it also helps other people to understand you, especially when speaking at speed.
One thing that learners of all levels sometimes find confusing is when the meaning of the word depends on how you stress it. So, let’s take a closer look at word stress.
There are many two-syllable words in English. Take this word for example: present.
Which syllable would you stress, the first, the second or are both acceptable? PREsent or PpreSENT? Does the meaning change?
PREsent is a noun, meaning a gift. PreSENT is a verb with several meanings, for example: to show and to make a presentation.
Here are some more examples:
- to obJECT and an OBject
- to imPORT and an IMport
- to CONtract and a CONtract
- to exPORT and an EXport
In all of these examples, the word is a verb when the second syllable is stressed and a noun when the first syllable is stressed.
How can you best learn word stress?
You’ll need both time and experience, so listen carefully to native speakers and try to develop a feeling for the rhythm of the language. You can also keep a record of which syllable is stressed in your vocabulary notebook, for example, by underlining the stressed syllable.
There are many different varieties of English accents in the UK and elsewhere in the world and they are all acceptable. Comprehensive pronunciation is what’s tested in the exam and stress plays a major part in this. Your accent is not something to worry about in the test as long as you can be understood.
Don’t forget that you can look up stress in any good dictionary. Thank you for watching.
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