Authentic speech and teaching sentence focus

  • Greta Muller Levis (Iowa State University)
  • John Levis (Iowa State University)


Focus is an essential tool which speakers and listeners use to communicate pragmatic meaning in English regarding the relative importance of information in discourse. We explored using authentic spoken discourse as a source for materials to teach the use of sentence focus illustrating non-final new information in content words. Using examples from academic and non-academic discourse, we found that texts that provided multiple examples of non-final new information were rare. We discuss the issues that arose in our analysis of two texts, including examples where phrases were spoken with multiple focus words, where speakers used focus to mark spoken contrasts, and where anomalous focus placement was hard to describe in terms of either the dominant last content word pattern or in terms of information structure. Finally, we provide recommendations for teaching sentence focus using both authentic and adapted materials.

How to Cite:

Levis, G. M. & Levis, J., (2009) “Authentic speech and teaching sentence focus”, Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching Proceedings 1(1).

Published on
01 Jan 2010