A syllable-timed language is a language whose syllables take approximately equal amounts of time to pronounce. It can be compared with a stress-timed language, where there is approximately the same amount of time between stressed syllables. Learners whose first language can be described as syllable-timed often have problems recognising and then producing features of English such as contractions, main and secondary stress, and elision.

French is described as a syllable-timed language, English as a stress-timed one.

In the classroom
Activities which can help learners with recognition of these features of English include counting the number of words in a spoken sentence, sorting long words according to stress patterns, and dictation.

See also:

Further links:


Submitted by Khankhel on Mon, 03/05/2018 - 09:45


How can it be possible that all syllables have the same time for uttering as it will cause all the syllables to be either stressed or unstressed? What about this”NE DIS JAMAIS JATA’IME”? Are all the syllables stressed or unstressed?

Research and insight

We have hundreds of case studies, research papers, publications and resource books written by researchers and experts in ELT from around the world. 

See our publications, research and insight

Sign up to our newsletters for teachers and teacher educators

We will process your data to send you our newsletter and updates based on your consent. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of every email. Read our privacy policy for more information.