Sometimes, we take the importance of grammar and punctuation marks in writing for granted. A little misplacement here and there changes the meaning and context of the sentence. Does this apply to speaking too? The answer is yes ! You might not be aware about it, but the way you say a particular word or sentence, and the pauses that you take while speaking make a lot of difference in the meaning and deliverance of your intended words.
This is called ‘word stress’. Let’s understand in detail what this is.
It is the manner in which stress is laid upon a particular word or to certain words in a phrase or sentence.
“Do you like pizza”?
If you don’t put stress on any of the word, then it will be a plain sentence. This plain sentence will not emphasis any point that you are trying to make. If you happen to be someone who loves pizza a lot, simply saying “I love pizza” will not convey how much you actually like pizza. It can be best be conveyed stressing on the word love by saying “I lovvvvve pizza”
Look at the way the meaning of the sentence changes with each word stress.
I love pizza. ( the important part here is the subject “I’.)
I love pizza. ( the important part here is the emotion “love”.)
I love pizza. ( the important part here is the object “pizza”.)
This is called enunciation. It is about making sure that the words are spoken in a way that is clear, concise and easy to understand.
Let us take another example. Say someone asks you about the weather and it is extremely hot in your city,
We’ll have a look again at the way the meaning of the sentence changes with each word stress
It is really hot here. ( the important part here is the adverb “really’.)
It is really hot here. ( the important part here is the adjective “hot’’.)
It is really hot here. ( the important part here is the noun “here’.)
sentence and how well you enunciate your sentences will make a huge difference in your fluency as well as clarity of speech. This can be done by amplifying your feelings and stressing on certain words in the speaking task. But how will you know what word to stress on?
Let’s see a few examples. These will be in the form of question and answer, where the question will be something you are likely to be asked by the examiner and the answer will depend on your opinion and likes and dislikes.
Your answer will vary depending on whether you agree with the statement or not. If you like your work, this can be conveyed by saying “I lovvve my work” or “I realllyy like my work a lot”
Your answer is likely to be something descriptive about a structure/building in your village or some kind of activity your town people engage in. So your response could be “We have this hugggee temple in our village which is said to be one of the most ancient structures in our country” or “ The people in my village nevvver close, latch or lock their doors, even during the night time.”
Do you understand the difference? Now that you know the importance of word stress let us also learn how to develop or improve on the same.
Pick up any newspaper, book or magazine and read out the articles slowly and clearly. Focus on the pronunciation as well enunciation of each word and sentence. Try to understand the most important element in each statement and read out by stressing on that particular word.
If you’re unsure on how to pause and take breaks for making the punctuations clear in your speaking, listen to English news and watch English movies or shows. These will help you use punctuations in the correct way in your speaking.
Record yourself and listen to these clips. This will not only help you analyze your speaking skills but you will also be able to figure out where you are making mistakes and how much you need to improve.
Do you like actors who have the same expression on their face in the entire movie? We criticize such actors. Same is the case with the way we all speak. If we speak without gestures and emotions, we sound robotic. So the right gestures and expressions will improve your speaking skills and not to mention your speaking band in a huge way.
A sure shot way of improving your word stress is to listen to the questions carefully. Concentrate on what the examiner is actually asking. You can also improve by learning to speak sentences by focusing on each word according to importance so that by the time you are in front of the examiner you have trained yourself well on the same.