Pronunciation and phonology in the EFL Classroom - Intonation

 

Whereas stress is typically concerned with one individual word, intonation is generally concerned with the variation in volume and pitch throughout an entire sentence. Intonation carries the message of a sentence. It's particularly important when questioning or agreeing, disagreeing and confirming statements. It's also very important when expressing emotions and feelings. The normal pattern for intonation is the rise-fall. Few examples would be ?I haven't seen him for a week,? or a simple word as ?okay?. With the falling intonation, we?re indicating that we're finished speaking. Again, ?I haven't seen him for a week? and ?okay?. A few more examples would be ?I'll see you at six then,? or a question of information ?How do you spell rough?? These are straightforward statements that indicate that we're finished speaking and that we don't necessarily need an immediate response. Our second pattern is rather easily recognizable because it's not used as often and that is the fall-rise pattern. This indicates surprise and often disagreement but above all it indicates that the speaker wants a person to respond or confirm. We could sarcastically say, ?You don't really mean that do you?? There I've said, ?You don't really mean that do you?? I'm obviously indicating that I need a response there. You could also say ?Are you ready yet?? Again, it needs a response it's perhaps a little agitated but it's our other fall- rise pattern. ?Are you ready yet?? You could also have a sarcastic question such as ?Are you serious?? We are definitely indicating a surprise and we also need a response but it's a rather sarcastic question rather than a straightforward question where we use the rise-fall pattern. Finally, we do have our flat intonation and our flat intonation basically sends a message that we really are uninterested or not very concerned. These are the flat intonations of a simple just ?Hello.? We could say it with our rise-fall pattern ?Hello!? or we could say it ?Hello.? Either way, they're all different but the flat pattern indicates I'm really not too interested. The fall rise pattern of ?Hello? sort of indicates that I need a response back and then again the standard ?Hello? is just our standard rise-fall pattern.


Below you can read feedback from an ITTT graduate regarding one section of their online TEFL certification course. Each of our online courses is broken down into concise units that focus on specific areas of English language teaching. This convenient, highly structured design means that you can quickly get to grips with each section before moving onto the next.

This unit was difficult yet interesting. I had tried to teach pronunciation when I was a teacher, but ran into many of the obstacles laid out in this unit. This chapter was useful and now I understand how to present pronunciation and how to teach it more effectively in my classroom.This is all very basic stuff that I am very familiar with, I truly can't say that I actually learned anything new, especially since a good portion of the content is review from previous units as well. It was good to briefly review the conditional and it's different variations however.This unit also gives me some new ideas for my class. Some students in my classroom don't really like reading and listening, because the material given in the textbook is not engaging. After this unit, I have a lot of new things to prepare for my class, so they are more eager to learn.


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