More PronPack – contrastive stress

More PronPack in class today. I’m just making a quick note of a follow-up activity I did – worked well.

I used ‘Stress Jigsaw’, a cool activity for raising awareness of contrastive stress. It involves matching questions with the correct answer, using the tonic stress in the answer as a clue. Here is a pic, but not of all the matching pairs as the publishers might not be happy with that…

You get the idea…

Anyway, the activity worked very well, and with some clear modelling at the start I think it really helped sensitise learners to the importance of stress. Something was missing for me though. I didn’t have time to personalise the task, and the question/answer pairs were a bit random for my learners:

Q: Istanbul is the capital of Turkey, right?

A: No, Ankara’s the capital of Turkey.

I could have re-written some of the ideas but felt this might be a bit time-consuming.

Instead, I used the task as a springboard for a ‘bad listener’ task, which meant learners could practice the pronunciation point in a personalised way with student-generated content.

I scribbled a table on the board, and filled it with random ideas from the learners:

Person Did… Where…  




Teacher Pete


<Student Name>





went fishing


ate a spicy curry


bought a dog


on Mars


at the market


at the mall




10 minutes ago


last week



Student’s used this as a prompt for a conversation, which involved lots of ‘bad listening’, hence a need for contrastive stress…

A: G-Dragon bought a dog at the mall last week!

B: No way! I didn’t know you could buy cats at the mall

A: Cats?! No, he bought a dog.

B: Oh. So, he bought one yesterday…

A: Not yesterday, last week


My students like incongruity (see Mark’s post from a while ago) so I let them mix and match (‘Teacher Pete ate a curry on Mars’, etc).

Anyway, this worked well, and the class really enjoyed hamming it up!

Categories: Lesson Ideas, pronunciation

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1 reply


  1. Materials writing news and views, March 2019 | ELT Planning

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