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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



Please turn your screen to landscape to play this game.

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

"I ran the trial with a small group of students over three weeks before the summer holidays," she says. "I quickly saw the benefits, and signed up."

King's Leadership Academy, Warrington