Research Key

The use of stress patterns

Project Details

Project ID
International: $20
No of pages
Qualitative method
Analytical tool
Descriptive statistics
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The study was aimed at investigating problems faced by 400 level students in the use of stress patterns. Data for the study was obtained from both primary and secondary sources. Primary data collection was obtained through recordings and administrations of questionnaires. Secondary data was obtained from documented sources such as journals, articles, and the internet.

Field results revealed that, out of the 50 students that were interviewed on the use of stress patterns, about 80% of students placed stress wrongly in a sentence while only 20% of the students had the standard pronunciation of stress in sentences. It is therefore recommended that audio-visual recordings are necessary as it will enable students to help perfect their use of stress.



Background to the study

Language is a means of communication that involves both stimulus and response whether through sounds or signs. We have four (4) basic skills in language communication which are: listening, writing, reading and speaking. Before humans ever thought of representing sounds by visible signs, people communicated with each other by word of mouth.

It is clear that all language learning starts with speech training. Good speech in English involves control of the system of sounds, stress, tone and pronunciation. Researchers now think that other skills camiot be taught effectively until the speech is placed on the top priority. In this context, Saleemi says,” The sensitivity of speaking seems to form the nucleus of all linguistic activity” 1983 (168). This means that the way one speaks depends on the meaning one gets.

Stress is a minute but very significant concept in any way because the wrong placement of stress on a word or sentence while speaking can distort or partially alter the sense of the sentence or meaning of the words as well as change the pronunciation of certain words in that sentence. Thus, stress is a phenomenon that has been termed a key to English pronunciation. It is a linguistic feature with rhythm, intonation and juncture in the English language.

That is why Gilani 1996 (3) writes that all the different aspects involved in the making of fluent speech with appropriate pronunciation need to be emphasized in the process of teaching”. In the acquisition of stress patterns, we have primary and secondary stress. Where primary stress is also known as lexical stress, is the stress placed on syllables within words, and secondary stress is that is weaker than the primary stress.

According to Gimson, stress is the greater breath effort and muscular energy exerted in the articulation of a syllable giving it more prominence than its neighbour in an utterance constituting a text. Stress placement is an imperative part of English language learning in terms of comprehension of spoken English and increasing oral intelligibility.

In Cameroon, there exist two official languages which are English and French. The English language spoken in Cameroon has undergone many changes although it was spoken by the English speaking Cameroonians as a second language. The French-speaking Cameroonians in recent years are fast embracing the English language not only as a foreign language but more or less almost like a second language.

The Portuguese were the first to discover Cameroon in 1472. Many European nations came to the country for diverse reasons, especially for commercial and colonial purposes. The Germans, however, annexed Cameroon in 1884 due to the sluggish attitude of Britain to annex Cameroon simply because they thought nothing good could come from Cameroon.

Britain and France finally colonized and partitioned Cameroon into two unequal parts where 2\5 was given to British Cameroon and 3\5 for French Cameroon. Cameroon is home today to some 272 languages including French and English as official languages. Eight (8) out of the ten regions in Cameroon are primary francophone, representing 83% of the country’s population speaking French and two are Anglophone regions speaking English representing 17%.

Today, French is a dominant language in Cameroon taught in schools as well as spoken and written as compared to English where it is mostly taught and not spoken. That is they teach English in class as a subject and it ends at that stage. But in the Anglophone region, English is used as a language of instruction that is used to teach and spoken in the two regions.

According to Ngefac 2009, up to 32% of Cameroonians express a preference for the English language not just as a language of instruction that is used to teach and spoken in the two regions. According to Ngefac 2009, up to 32% of Cameroonians express a preference for the English language not just as a language of instruction, but for other benefits such as social affairs, job opportunities, business and even social interactions. As such, in order to successfully know this language to better communication skills, most Cameroonians would prefer to develop a positive attitude towards the language to ease assimilation.

Statement of the problem

It has been observed that English is used by a minority and in competition with Pidgin English, which has influenced second language learners of English to use the Pidgin English accent, intonation, pronunciation on their words and sentences in spoken English. The main problem this study seeks to find out is, the difficulties faced by 400 level students in the department of English is, the placement of stress on spoken English.

Aims and objectives

The main aim of this study is to know how students place stress on words and sentences in their spoken English. The following objectives can be obtained.

  • To find out the type of stress patterns they use in their spoken English.
  • To investigate how the influence of the use of pronunciation influence their use of stress in spoken English.

Research Questions

This study is guided by the following research questions.

  • What factors can influence 400 level students to use stress wrongly?
  • Why do second language learners leam the pattern and rules of super segmental in their second language acquisition?
  • What is the attitude of the students in the learning of stress?
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