Why is it important to learn about Word stresses in IELTS Speaking?
- 1 Define Word Stress
- 2 Rules of Word Stress
- 3 Difference between Enunciation & Pronunciation
- 4 How will this affect IELTS Speaking?
- 5 How to improve Word Stress?
We often think that Grammar, Vocabulary, Punctuation aren’t very important in the IELTS Speaking test. So, we take these things for granted. But it’s completely wrong. You may not be aware of it, but a specific word or a sentence and the pauses you take while having a conversation with the examiner make a tremendous difference in the meaning and deliverance. Sentence stress or word stress in English is how a speaker highlights certain words in each sentence he speaks. It helps the listener focus on essential parts and understand the speaker’s intentions.
Define Word Stress
Word Stress means pronouncing one syllable of a multisyllabic word with more stress than the other syllables in the word. Therefore, to communicate accurately and fluently in English, it is very important to stress the correct syllables in any sentence or a phrase. Basically, stressing means emphasizing a sound. There are many two-syllable words in English whose meanings change when stress is applied. If you don’t apply stress to any of the words, it will be a plain sentence.
Rules of Word Stress
There are three important rules of the Word Stress which are as follows,
- One word, one stress.
- Vowels are only stressed and not consonants
- There’s no need to stress on prefixes and suffixes.
Thus, It is important that you stress the right syllables, so people can hear and understand your words.
Let’s look at an example sentence that changes its meaning when stress is applied.
Mona loves driving (the important part in the sentence is the subject: Mona)
Mona loves driving (the important part here is the emotion: Loves)
Mona loves driving (the important part in the sentence is action: Driving)
Look at words where one syllable is stressed, for example:
Most of the time in the IELTS Speaking test, the examiner tests the test taker if he uses word stress in his speech. Moreover, using a word stress in your speech or conversation will instantly improve your pronunciation.
Difference between Enunciation & Pronunciation
Enunciation refers to how clearly and distinctly an individual speaks, forming the sounds that make up a clear and easy-to-understand word. Pronunciation and Enunciation are very closely related words that people often get confused with. Therefore, pronunciation can be defined as how a specific word should sound when spoken aloud.
How will this affect IELTS Speaking?
The IELTS Speaking test analyses the test taker’s ability to pronounce words clearly and accurately. Pronunciation is key to getting a high score on the IELTS Speaking test. If the examiner doesn’t understand what you’re talking about, then you will score low. Therefore, the test taker must ensure to stress words while speaking. Check the below examples to understand what word to stress on. The examiner will ask these questions, and the test taker must answer depending on his opinion, interests, likes and dislikes.
Question: Do you like cooking?
Your answer will vary depending on whether you like doing the activity or not. Look at the answer provided below to understand the use of Word Stress.
Answer: Yes, I love cooking as it soothes my mind. Also, I live far away from my hometown. So I make my own healthy meals which helps me to maintain good health.
Question: How important is eating a healthy diet?
Your answer will likely be descriptive about how important it is to eat a healthy diet. For example, look at the answer below.
Answer: I think eating healthy is an essential part of life. If you don’t give your body what it needs, it won’t function well, so what you eat is very important.
How to improve Word Stress?
Improving your ability to enunciate requires a lot of practice on how you speak and converse. For this, you need to listen to the questions carefully. Then, you can follow some of the activities given below, which will help you enunciate better.
Record yourself having a conversation with another person. This will not only help you to analyze your speaking skills but will also let you know about your weaknesses. Through this, you can focus on improving your mistakes.
2. Give importance to Punctuation
Suppose you don’t know how to pause and stop while speaking. Listen to English news channels or watch English movies or shows to overcome this difficulty. This will help you to use punctuations properly.
3. Read clearly and accurately
Go through the articles in English newspapers, or read a book or magazine slowly to understand pronunciation and Enunciation of each word and sentence. Then, try to read out by stressing specific words or phrases in the articles.
4. Listen to Audio
One of the best ways to learn word stress in English is to listen to audio materials such as radio, news channels, ted talks, or lectures. You can listen and repeat after the speaker to enhance your speaking skills.
Now that you’re familiar with all the above-mentioned activities, try to follow them to develop strong verbal and oral communication skills. You can also hone your speaking skills by simply learning to speak sentences by focusing mainly on each word.
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