Friday, August 19, 2011

Sentence stress

Today I just finished a study tour of 30 Taiwanese academics at the University of NSW. They did a programme of English for lecturing, along with lectures in their specific field. I, of course, was the pronunciation input and today they presented their final presentations which were absolutely fantastic!

They all presented a 2 minute excerpt of a lecture with a couple of slides and were assessed on all the work we did during the 2 weeks. This included, specific sounds, word and sentence stress, focus and contrastive stress, chunking and pausing and of course intonation. The other teachers worked on grammar for lecturing, impact techniques and use of visuals and discourse markers for the structure of the lecture.

The importance of sentence stress was highlighted when I couldn't understand a sentence one of them said and I asked him what he had meant to say after we had watched the video of his presentation . It was merely:

......I am from Yuan Ze  University as you are.

But he said it quickly and with the following stress

......I am from Yuan Ze University as you are.

I didn't understand the sentence at all. It should have been

......I am from Yuan Ze University as you are.

This is a simple, easy to correct error but makes a huge difference to the listener being able to understand.