Fun with Word Stress!

Let the stress begin
Do you squirm when you hear a student tell you they stayed in a lovely ‘OTel’ on holidays? Do you respond with a look of shock-horror, causing automatic self-correction? (if you’re lucky..) And if so , what then do you do with that magic moment?  Do you move on or do you elicit and mark syllables/stress on the board for the other students who may just have the same problem?


Not all stress is bad for you! 

In fact, WORD stress can be great fun….. so why do teachers the world over either forget it exists or choose not to focus on it?

Adrian Underhill explains here why he refers to the teaching of pronunciation as ‘the poor relation’ and how we as teachers can better embrace it.

If you want to have some competitive fun, here’s a great game I like to use as a recap on target language.  It can be used with learners of all ages and levels….and you choose the lexical focus so it’s completely versatile!!

Fun with Word Stress!

1. Prepare 12 pages of coloured A4 paper with the target vocabulary of the week and post them to the board.  (You can also just write up the words in different colour markers).  Each sheet has a number in the top left hand corner.

Board 3










2. Students get into teams of 3 students per team and choose a team name.

3. Explain the following to students:

Each team in turn will choose one page (e.g. Green, 5) without saying the word.  Once a group chooses their word, they now have 1 minute with their group to decide:

A) how many syllables it has
B) where the stress is
C) how to pronounce the word
D) give another adjective that has the same stress pattern

While the team are discussing their answers, the other teams can be doing the same as they might get a chance to steal the other teams points…

Example for ‘Green, 5’ – ‘Positive’

A) 3

B) POSitive (One student can come up for the team and mark the stress above the word on the board)

C) One student pronounces the word

D) Negative (One student writes this on the board below the word)

Teams get one point for each correct answer and If they get all four correct, they get 5 points (one bonus point)

if the team cannot give an answer to one, they can throw it to one of the other teams.  If the chosen team answer correctly, they automatically steal those points.

Board 5 Board 7


This is a great activity for reviewing the week’s vocabulary and also gets students thinking about pronunciation.  I like to draw students attention to the pronunciation of all new lexical items met during the week  so they are not only meeting it from a definitive point of view but pronunciation is also incorporated into its introduction and practice. And it means why you play this game, they will already have met the pronunciation and so there should be less guess work…

You can read our previous post, ‘Fun with Pronunciation Drills’ here. 

If you try this game out, let me know how it goes!!






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