AIM: To identify key information by listening to stress patterns in sentences.
INTRODUCTION: Contrastive stress is used to highlight specific information in contrast to something else. In this activity, you will listen to sentences and identify which piece of information is being highlighted.
Example: It’s hard to stop smoking
a. but it's not impossible
b. but you can try cutting down
Answer: Because the stress was on ‘hard’ this contrasts with ‘impossible; so the answer is (a). If the stress was on ‘stop’ then this would contrast with ‘cut down’ and the answer would be (b).
INSTRUCTIONS: Listen to the following sentences and select the appropriate response or ending.
Question 1: Did you see the doctor yesterday?
Question 2: Have you noticed any change recently?
Question 3: We haven’t seen a big improvement yet...
Question 4: We may not be able to remove the whole tumour...
Question 5: I think it’s getting better...
Question 6: Your blood pressure’s up a bit...
Question 7: These tablets should help...
Question 8: The physio gave me some exercises...
Question 9: My nausea’s getting worse...
Please answer every question before continuing.
Contrastive stress is important for both listening and speaking. Listening to patient cues is not just a matter of listening to the words but to how the patient uses contrastive stress. Pay attention to which words the patient seems to be highlighting, to help you understand what they’re contrasting, as in these activities. In speaking, if a patient has trouble understanding the doctor, then effective use of contrastive stress can be a useful skill.
FOLLOW-UP: Go back though the activity above, reading each sentence aloud and changing the word you stress to give a different meaning.
PRACTICE: Respond to the following statements using appropriate contrastive stress.
e.g. The sun rises in the west – No, the sun rises in the EAST or The sun SETS in the west
Smoking is good for you
Children shouldn’t exercise
Cancer is contagious
Diabetes affects the lymph nodes
Doctors know everything
Contraception is always foolproof