Monday, August 22, 2016

Are You Stressing? – by Lindell Long

Are you stressing? I am not talking about grading deadlines, or extra forms to fill out on every student you have ever worked with, I am taking about stressing or emphasizing your words.

I teach ESOL students who often put the emphasis on the wrong word in a sentence, changing the meaning totally from what was intended. In order to help them realize how this works, I shared this simple exercise with mainstream teachers to help students during their classes.

Here are the same sentences with the same words in the same order, however, in changing the word that is stressed in the sentence, the meaning will be changed.

The sentence is "This is my black cat."

THIS is my black cat. (This cat right here...not that one over there.) This IS my black cat.(Are you doubting me? It is a certainty.) This is MY black cat. (I own this cat...no one else does) This is my BLACK cat. (Not my red cat or my gray cat.) This is my black CAT. (Not my dog or parakeet.)

Simple sentences can be used to show emphasis and what the meaning the speaker is trying to get across. With all of the debates on television, it would be interesting to have students listen to the speeches and see how well the candidates did in emphasizing the proper words.


Lindell Long teaches ESOL at Clover Middle and High Schools in Clover, South Carolina, a position she’s held for the last 18 years. She’s married with 4 children and so many pets her family fears she’ll bring home a stray yak one day.