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Unit 24: Spelling the 'schwa' sound - the neutral vowel
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Unit 24: The weak 'schwa' sound: stress in words

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Spelling the 'schwa' sound:
Spot the weak vowel sound.

Schwa sounds are found in unstressed syllables so it can be useful to remind ourselves about stressed and unstressed syllables:

If we stressed every word, we would sound like robots.

Hear examples of 'robot' speech.

In natural speech, words of more than one syllable contain one sound that is stronger than the rest. This is the stressed syllable. Read these aloud and listen for the stress:

stressed syllables in English language stressed syllables in English language stressed syllables in English language
elephant gorilla kangaroo

You can hear the stressed syllable sound clearly. The sounds in the unstressed syllables are often unclear and can therefore be difficult to spell.

It is worth saying that some accents stress syllables that others do not.

Try this activity. Can you spot the stressed syllable and the schwa? The first is done for you.

Whole Word

Type the stressed syllable

Type the syllable
with the schwa sound



Skip this exercise and go to the next part of this unit: Learning tips for schwa words. *

* Skip link not available for logged in students.

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The Spellzone interactive course is intended to be used online and may not be printed.

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"Spellzone fits in beautifully with our Scope and Sequence of Phonological Awareness and Spelling. It also aligns perfectly with the four areas of spelling knowledge and uses the Brain, Ears, Eyes approach to learning spelling."
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Teacher, Australia