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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.