Jump and Walk

English 518 – Fall 2005
Activity Assignment #1
Ghinwa Alameen
Jump and Walk
Raise awareness of
unstressed and
stressed syllables
through physical
Following the activity ‘Stress Stretch’ on suprasegmental features
(Bailey and Savage, 1994: 252-253), this activity will reinforce the
learners’ perception of unstressed syllables, reviewing, at the same
time, the skills they have learned with the previous one. Many
learners who have become aware of stressed syllables still have a
problem with the unstressed ones, pronouncing them with a strong
vowel (especially when they contain vowel letters such as o, u, ou,
ia, etc.). The short and quick jumps of this exercise will remind the
learners of how short their weak syllables should be no matter what
letter they may contain.
Class Time
15 minutes
Preparation Time
10 minutes
Small cards
1. Prepare another list of polysyllabic words appropriate to the
learners’ level.
2. Write each of these words on a card underlining the stressed
syllables to show both the stressed and the unstressed
syllables. For example:
dramatic information
3. Explain to the students that unstressed syllables should be
short, weak and lower in pitch than unstressed syllables.
Illustrate that no matter what letters may be in the
unstressed syllable, it will most of the times be pronounced
as a weak /I/ or /∂/.
4. Demonstrate the difference between stressed and unstressed
vowels by pronouncing some words of your list,
exaggerating the stressed syllables and making the
unstressed ones very short.
5. Ask a group of students to stand in an unfurnished corner of
the room. Then, model the ‘Jump and Walk’ activity to
them. Read a word from your cards jumping for each
unstressed syllable and walking for the stressed ones.
6. The student who makes the wrong move goes out and reads
the following word to the rest of the students. S/he may
exaggerate the stressed syllable as much as s/he wants.
Caveats and
1. When the activity is over, practice the words again with the
students showing them the real strength, pitch and length of
the syllables without exaggeration.
2. If you do not have enough free space in the room, you can
still perform a similar chalk-and-board activity. Ask a few
students to draw a straight line for unstressed vowels and
circular line for stressed one following the same described
3. Implement this activity with phrases and short sentences. It
can be usefully used to demonstrate weak forms in
connected speech.