Stress is an important feature of spoken English. Clear, accurate pronunciation of all English words relies on correct articulation and placement of stress.
Additionally, listeners rely on stress as a way to identify words. For instance, if you say “Arabic” instead of the correct “Arabic,” listeners might hear “a rabbit.”
What is stress?
Stress is a quality of vowel sounds. It has three primary characteristics:
- Length ↔
- Volume 🔊
- Pitch ↑
Stressed vowel sounds are longer, louder, and/or higher in pitch than vowel sounds without stress. You can use just one of these features, or any combination of these features at the same time. Overall, stressed sounds are “stronger” than unstressed sounds.
How do I use stress?
Stress and syllables are closely related. Almost all syllables in English contain a vowel sound; therefore, we usually say that syllables are stressed or unstressed. Every multi-syllable English word contains at least one stressed syllable. For example:
When you learn new vocabulary words, it’s important to learn stress placement. Listeners depend on stress as a cue to recognize words.
Listen to these words. Which syllable is stressed? Repeat each word.
Repeat the words again. Focus on making the stressed syllable longer, louder, and higher in pitch than the others.
Pronounce the words below, taking care to use correct stress placement. Then, listen to the recordings. Were you correct?
What do you do now?
First, attend our Word Stress I and Word Stress II FSS Sessions.
Second, look at your current resume. Do you know the stress placement for all the key words? Take time to identify them.
Last, bring it to a speech consultant to review.