Currently Browsing: Word Stress, Timing, and Intonation (Prosody) Lesson Plans

Word Bubbles

This lesson is part of a series of one-hour lessons that will help students improve their prosody skills. Prosody, in short, is word stress, timing, and intonation. For an introduction to the series, click here.

Name: Word Bubbles

Time: 1 hour

Prep Time: None

Materials: These Worksheets

Primary Objective: Improve word stress skills

Other Benefits: Discuss sports

Plan:

Introduce the concept (5 minutes) On the board, write three sentences with circles above each word. Bigger circles mean more stress. Read them with the students.

(Note: It’s difficult to change the font in this blog, so in place of circles, you’ll see letters here. S=Small, M=Medium, B=Big. On the worksheets, you’ll see circles (bubbles) instead.)

S     B    M   S

I   love football.

S       B  M  S

She’s so stupid.

M  S       S      M      M

I don’t think that’s true.

Practice as a class (25 minutes) Pass out the first page of these worksheets. Students should listen to you read the sentences and make circles above the syllables depending on how much stress the syllable needs. More stress means a bigger circle.

Then, pass out another worksheet with suggested answers and practice reading the sentences together.

Practice in Pairs (20 minutes) Pass out the third worksheet to half the class with similar but slightly different sentences.

Pass out the fourth worksheet to the other half of the class.

Students should complete the worksheet in pairs, with one student reading and the other making circles above their words.

Then they should practice reading them in pairs.

Finally, practice reading them as a class.

On their own (10 Minutes) Now, ask students to write a couple sentences on their own and make their own circles above the words. They should practice reading these in pairs as well.

Extension: Instead of just writing a few sentences, students might write whole dialogues and note the word stress throughout.

Ideas for Homework: Tell the students to choose a song they enjoy, find the lyrics, and create stress markings for them.

Hands over Mouths

This is part of a series of lesson plans on word stress, timing, and intonation. Click here to read a short introduction.

Name: Hands over mouths

Prep Time: None (Enough time to print the worksheets)

Materials: Worksheets (Click to download or see below)

Primary Objective: Practice Word Stress

Other Benefits: Discuss Travel

Plan:

15 Minutes

Give the students the worksheets. First they should write their own endings to the sentences. Then they should match the given endings. Just walk around and check them as they’re writing.

15 Minutes

Now, read the sentences out loud for the students. They should listen and repeat. Pay careful attention to make sure that they are stressing the correct words. If you’d prefer, you can play this track for them instead.

5 Minutes

Now, students should look at their sheets and underline the stressed words.

5 Minutes

Next, read the sentences out loud and have the students repeat them again.

10 Minutes

Walk around and give specialized help as the students practice reading in pairs.

5 Minutes

Now, choose a random sentence and read it with your hands over your mouth. The students should guess which sentence you read. Do another. Ask them how they were able to guess if they couldn’t understand any sounds?

5 Minutes

Now the students should again practice reading the sentences in pairs, but this time with their hands over their mouths. Partners should guess which sentence they were reading.

Extension

After reading each sentence again, students should ask each other: Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Ideas for Homework: Write 10 travel sentences and underline the stressed words.

In case you have trouble downloading the handout, here are the sentences for this activity. Of course you can also write different sentences that better suit your class.

I like to travel alone, but sometimes I travel with other people.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you travel to?

When I fly, I prefer to have a window seat.

I spent too much time on the beach and got sunburned.

I’d much rather walk around a museum, than sit on a cruise ship.

There’s no way one suitcase would ever hold everything I want to bring.

The last place on earth I’d want to go is Alaska. It’s too cold!

I never forget to bring my towel when I travel; it’s the most important thing for me.

I just love tasting all the new foods when I’m at restaurants in new cities.

My advice is to travel in the fall; it’s not too cold, but it’s also not too busy.

Limericks Lesson Plan

This is part of a series of lesson plans on word stress, timing, and intonation. Click here to read a short introduction.

You might Read this Teaching Strategy on using limericks in the classroom before doing this lesson plan. You’ll find some limericks you might use at the beginning of the lesson.

Name: Limericks

Time: 1 hour

Prep Time: You’ll need to get a few limericks beforehand. (Here’s some.)

Materials: Some limericks

Primary Objective: Improve timing and word stress skills

Other Benefits: Practice counting syllables

Plan:

Present Some Limericks (15 minutes): Present three short limericks of the AABBA structure. Write them on the board one at a time. Discuss what they mean. Mention the number of syllables in each line of the poem and that they rhyme.

Writing Pomes as a Class (15 minutes): Now you’re going to write some new poems as a class. First, ask the class for a short sentence. Write it on the board. On a separate piece of the board, write the last word. Then ask the students for a bunch of words that rhyme with it. Write those on the board too. Now, ask the students for another short sentence that ends in one of those words. (Don’t worry about the syllable count just yet.)

You should end up with something like this…

Short sentence: I went to the store to buy a red dress.

Dress: Mess, Confess, Less, Guess, etc.

Second Short sentence: When I eat I make a mess.

Repeat the process to get the third and fourth lines of your poem

Now get one more sentence that rhymes with the first line.

Now, you should have something like this:

I went to the store to buy a red dress.

When I eat I make a mess

I hate using a spoon.

I hope you come soon.

When I buy things I want to pay less

It’s not a great poem, but it doesn’t matter. You’re just working on the form.

You’re almost done. Next, count the syllables in each line with your class. Change the sentences as needed to make the lines that rhyme have the same number of syllables. You can easily change the syllable counts in sentences by adding adjectives and adverbs. (e.g. I bought a book à I really bought a green book.)

Now you should have something like this:

I went to the store to buy a dress. 9

When I eat I really make a mess. 9

I hate using a spoon. 6

I hope you come home soon. 6

When I buy things I want to pay less. 9

Congratulations! You and your class have written a limerick. Now, write two more.

Write Poems in Groups (30 minutes): Finally, put the students into groups and have them write a few poems of their own.

Extension: Ask the students to draw a picture related to one of their poems and then present it to the class.

Ideas for Homework: Send the students on a hunt for limericks on the internet. At the beginning of the next class they can share them in groups.

Introduction to Word Stress, Timing, and Intonation (Prosody) Lesson Plans

Prosody (Word Stress, Timing, and Intonation) Lesson Plans

In recent years, language teachers have generally agreed that teaching word stress, timing, and intonation are very important. Not every class, nor every student, needs prosody work; but many do.

Fine and dandy, but how to teach it exactly? This is the introduction to a series of lesson plans on prosody. The lessons will appear in the coming weeks.

Just a few notes:

First, in the introduction to Sue F. Miller’s wonderful book “Targeting Pronunciation: Communicating Clearly in English”, she says that the most important thing in any lesson on prosody is listening and repeating. Word to that and you’ll see it a lot here.

Also, there needs to be something to practice. Material is provided here around various themes. You can easily switch it up though. Using sentences and vocabulary from your units is a great idea.

Click here to see all the lesson plans.

Here are some other helpful posts on prosody.

Ten Sentences

This is part of a series of lesson plans on word stress, timing, and intonation. Click here to read a short introduction.

Name: Ten Sentences

Time: 1 hour

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Materials: Personality Adjectives (Click to download or see below)

Primary Objective: Improve Word Stress Skills

Other Benefits: Practice Personality Adjectives

Plan:

10 Minutes

Print and present the Personality Adjectives with personality adjectives. (Or write everything on the board.) Have the students fill it in as best they can.

15 Minutes

Now, read the sentences out loud for the students. They should listen and repeat. Pay careful attention to make sure that they are stressing the correct words. If you’d prefer, you can play this track for them instead.

5 Minutes

Now, students should look at their sheets and underline the stressed words.

5 Minutes

Next, read the sentences out loud and have the students repeat them again.

10 Minutes

Walk around and give specialized help as the students practice reading in pairs.

5 Minutes

Finally, have the students listen and repeat one more time as a class

10 Minutes

Review the meanings of the personality adjectives. Ask the students to choose four words and write new sentences with them. They should underline the stressed words in their sentences.

Ideas for Homework

Ask the students to find examples of some of the personality adjectives in real English materials. (They can search for them on the internet.) During the next class, they can present the sentences.

Words

Lazy, Happy, Funny, Interesting, Quiet, Witty, Sweet, Demanding, Hardworking, Carefree

Fill In The Blanks

I envy her. She’s always smiling. She’s a really ______________________ person.

Isn’t she an ______________________ professor? I just love listening to her lectures.

She’s always writing songs for me. When I first met her, I thought she was just a ______________________ girl, but now that I know her, I think she’s super ______________________.

I like my boss, but he’s too ______________________. If we don’t relax sometimes, we’ll go crazy!

Sometimes I wish I could be more ______________________, like my brother. Nothing bothers him.

If you want to be successful, the most important thing is to be ______________________.

Why are you always so ______________________?! Clean your room! Do your homework! Do anything!

Why is Jake my best friend? You know, he makes me laugh. He’s ______________________. That’s really important to me.

I wish I were more ______________________. I never think of good things to say until hours later.

Answers

I envy her. She’s always smiling. She’s a really happy person.

Isn’t she an interesting professor? I just love listening to her lectures.

She’s always writing songs for me. When I first met her, I thought she was just a quiet girl, but now that I know her, I think she’s super sweet.

I like my boss, but he’s too demanding. If we don’t relax sometimes, we’ll go crazy!

Sometimes I wish I could be more carefree, like my brother. Nothing bothers him.

If you want to be successful, the most important thing is to be hardworking.

Why are you always so lazy?! Clean your room! Do your homework! Do anything!

Why is Jake my best friend? You know, he makes me laugh. He’s funny. That’s really important to me.

I wish I were more witty. I never think of good things to say until hours later.

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