Learning English as a second language is very important to learn how words stress, when we use rhythm in each sentence and what for intonation it will be used. These are parts of pronunciation in English language. Learning English is not learning words and sentences. It is necessary to learn how to avoid the interference of mother language in order to improve the utterance near the native speakers. The role of mother tongue influences in a language acquisition for rhythm, stress and intonation when they adapt the same process of acquisition. So, it is necessary to learn stress, rhythm and intonation because they are parts of pronunciation. What does the meaning of these words?
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Rhythm of speech is one of the different parts of a language. Spoken English words have more syllables. Some syllables are stressed weak and strong, some are stressed long and short. These reasons English language has its rhythm. It refers to the length of time between the main stress or accent and looks like a musical voice in human feeling. It has been said that every language has its rhythm. A person who is ill or weak in language may lose language without interests or senses of rhythm. It is easier for children than adult to learn or acquire rhythm of language.
If learners want to practice the rhythm of English, first thing you should begin counting from one to twenty and tap your finger on a table when you count.
Jane drink some coffee. (4 syllables)
Jenny has eaten pie and ham. (8 syllables)
The policeman is catching a beggar and a joker. (14 syllables)
Stress is the force placed on a word in speaking to make the meaning clear in many sentences. When you say some words with more force and others with less force. English has stress sounds on the main words such as verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs that we call Content Words such as nouns : bag, sauce, verbs: walk, drive, hit, adverbs: well, fast, and adjectives: fat, big, thin. And some words we do not stress they are called Function Words such as determiners: the, an, a, some, any, a few, auxiliary verbs: am, was, can, could, should, must etc., prepositions: near, next to, after etc., conjunctions: but, and, or, for, as etc., pronouns: he, she, we, they, him, her etc. There are the following eight patterns of word stress in English.
One syllable- Stressed e.g.
Two syllable – First Syllable Stressed e.g.
Two syllable – Second Syllable Stressed
Three syllable – First Syllable Stressed
Three syllable- Second Syllable Stressed
Three syllable- Third Syllable Stressed
Four syllable-Second Syllable Stressed
Four syllable- Third Syllable Stressed
In English, stress is the most important for pronounce words clearly in order to understand the dialogue. There are following types of stress.
Emphatic stress is the movement the tonic stress from the final position of the utterance to focus on a content word.
i. It was very exCIted. (unmarked)
ii It was Very excited. (emphatic/ said strongly)
i He can’t talk LOUDly. (unmarked)
ii He CAN’T talk loudly. (emphatic/ said strongly)
This pattern is quite different from the emphatic and non-emphatic stresses. The speech have the tonic stress in any words. It can occur between content words and function words to contrast that universe of speech.
Consider the following examples:
a) Do you want this one or THAT one?
b) I want THIS one.
Other contrastive dialogues can be found from the written works for a study of contrastive stress.
Consider these sentences below.
He ate pizza yesterday. (It was him who……….)
He ate pizza yesterday. (He only ate not drink……….)
He ate pizza yesterday. (It was pizza that……….)
He ate pizza yesterday. (It was yesterday….……….)
Tonic stress is a peak of stress. If the syllables have tonic stress we called tonic syllables. Tonic stress occurs in a content word of the final position of the utterance.
Consider the underlined of the tonic syllable.
a) He’s READing.
b) He’s reading a BOOK.
c) He’s reading a book on SUNday.
New Information Stress
This stress is for asking and answering the question to have the information need and the natural necessary, it is stressed.
a) What’s your NAME? b) I’m JOHN.
a) Where are you FROM? b) I’m from THAIland.
a) Where do you LIVE? b) I live in CHIENGmai.
a) What do you do? b) I’m a DOCtor.
English language has stress timing because the speakers try to make the length of time to say something the same in the stressed syllables whereas some language have syllable timed. English language uses the time to say words it depends on the number of syllables.
Degree of Stress
There are two stress of degree of stress. The first one is primary stress. It is very important in compound words and it stresses in the final syllable. Another one is secondary stress. It is weak sound and not important as primary stress. It gives in the other lexical stress syllables in a word.
If the syllable in a word is not stressed, it is called schwa sound. Schwa sound means a syllable of a word is weak and unsound.
Rule of Word Stress
There are two easy rules of word stress. One word has only one stress. If it has two words, it must have two stresses. But there are primary stress and secondary stress in a word. A secondary stress is not important than a primary stress and also have in long words.
Where can we put a word stress?
It is very complex to put a word stress. It depends on your experience in word using. When we learn English a new word, you have to learn from a dictionary. It will show how spelling of a word and how a word stresses. You should learn the pattern of stress and practice listening from the native speakers and English songs. You should listen carefully to develop your speech. If you found a word is confused, you should repeat that word again.
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Intonation is kinds of pitch which means the lowness or highness sound. When saying such a sentence, the voice can rise to a higher tone or a lower tone that makes speech lively and the meaning clear. Intonation is a problem of learning English for learner who wants to speak the language fluently as a native speaker. Intonation is the music of a language, and it is maybe the most important factor of good accent. English has intonation to tell the way how speakers express.
Consider examples below.
He’s GOing. (statement)
He’s goING? (question)
Examples of some intonation sentences:
COME and live HERE.
Please stand UP.
Have you ever GONE there before?
You love him, DON’T you?
Would you like some Sugar?
The rise and fall of pitch occurs in the sentence we called intonation contour. English language has intonation in order to give the meaning of utterance such as the belief, the any emotion, the agreement and disagreement, the question, the statement.
The movement of music and rhythm is involved of speech it is called tone of voice.
Communication always have tone to be more successful in the utterance, because tone is telling about thinking, emotion, or feeling between people who communicate.
Types of intonation
Fall or falling tone is using for the belief in a content of speech.
You should ask your DIrector.
I’ve talked to a HOUSEkeeper.
Low rise (a rising tone) is used when a speaker has a question and want to
know the answer.
a) Isn’t he CUTE?
High-rise (a rising tone) is used when a speaker is asking for a repetition or
clarification, or indicating disbelief. Example:
She passed her EXam.
She PASSED. (disbelief)
Fall-rise is a signal of dependency, continuity and non-finality. It occurs in
sentence non-final intonation units.
a) A bus of this TOUR would be SAFE.
b) STUdy in this SCHOOL is quite be GOOD.
English language intonation is the music of the language. We use tone to show emotion or to ask questions. In each conversation, it is necessary to remember the meaning behind the tones. If the conversation is not clear or can not understand, we use tones to check misunderstandings between the speaker and the listener. Determining comprehension by pronounce each word clearly though, if the intonation without standard, the meaning that you communicate will be not clear. That can misunderstand in comprehension.
Intonation and stress are principal factors of linguistics. English language is important for the meaning of words, they emphasize the stress of words. English does not have the same sounds of sentences. One syllable stresses very strongly while the others very softly. The native speakers do not interest in the weak syllables; on the other hand, they care about the meaning of the stressed syllables.
Problem of stress and intonation is mother’s tongue interference. The language learners who need the sound of target language have to recognize the phonetic difference between the target language and the mother tongue. In contrast, the learner will not remember the real sounds of the foreign language. So, they try to keep what they hear to relate their mother’s tongue sounds. That makes them difficult to improve their accent closely the native speaker.
I have a problem of teaching stress, rhythm and intonation. The main thing I think I do not have more knowledge enough about phonetics.
I couldn’t recognize the patterns of words stressed and I did not use English with foreigners in everyday. Consequently, sometimes I forgot the words, I had to learn by heart repetitively in the old words. Moreover, I lost of my confidence of my speech. I still kept a silent person until I am an English language teacher. I have found that stress and intonation is the important thing in learning and teaching English language besides grammar. So, I decided to learn more about phonetics. I try to find or search from many resources. In addition, listening from real accent is more important for learning phonetics; for example, I try to communicate to foreigners and listen from real materials such as a CD, a cassette tape and various websites from the internet.
Now, whenever my students ask me some words, if I am not sure to tell them the correct pronounced words. I will use a dictionary for checking the words. Furthermore, I practice from hearing T.V. English programs and listening songs. I think it is a great way to have students learn rhythm, stress and intonation from songs.
Here is my sample of teaching stress, rhythm and intonation.
Begin awareness raising activities by reading example sentences that teachers provided aloud to the students. Fist time, read the sentence and pronounce each word carefully. Then read the sentences a second time in natural speech.
Ask students which sentences seemed more natural and why?
Explain the idea of English being a stress-timed language.
Talk about the differences between stressed words and non-stressed words
(content words and function words)
Underlined the stressed words in the sentences. Ask students reading aloud.
Have students practice the exercise in groups of two by having them first read in an unnatural way and then in a natural way.
Have students are comfortable with listening to the stress-timed nature of English and raise awareness about the rhythm of English. Point out how important it is.
Read the sentences aloud and repeat each sentence that students hear.
Improve listening skills is giving students listen to songs because they are very familiar, so students can learn the words by heart.
Have students homework by having them create their own sentences. And ask them to practice with pair. Students read and repeat what they hear.
In every language is unique and carry its particular aspects. In order to be fluent in a second language it is necessary more than just knowledge of vocabulary, grammar or structures. It is also need awareness of the important differences between mother’s language and the second language.
It is necessary to understand any language with a certain of phonological stress because languages depend on stress, rhythm and intonation which are parts of them. Hence, it is very important for learners who aim to communicate in any language other than the native one. So, learners who want to understand in other language have purpose of patience, trial, and finding research in terms of main aspects of the target language.
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