Category: Teach Pronunciation

Here’s What a Novice Teacher Must Know About English Intonation

Intonation refers to the pitch patterns that a speaker uses when communicating in English. The intonation of a sentence is the pattern of the pitch that occurs. There are four patterns of intonation:

A) The falling intonation.

It is marked with a fall of the voice from a high pitch to relatively very low pitch in the last stressed words. This pattern conveys the following types of sentences:

  1. Short sentence: I was glad. I like coffee.
  2. Wh-question intended to convey information: What is your name?
  3. Imperatives: shut up. Sit!
  4. Exclamation: what is a nice girl?! What is a nice dress?!
  5. Question tag: he speaks English, doesn’t he? 

B) The rising intonation.

It is indicated by the rise in the voice from a very low pitch to relatively very high pitch on the last stressed syllable as the syllable following it. This pattern is typical on the following patterns:

  1. Statement intended to encourage the listener. I should not be late, come on.
  2. Yes/No-question: did you play football? Do you like football?
  3. Incomplete sentence: (When the speaker intends to continue) When I saw my father, …
  4. Question tag: (When the speaker expects a negative reply) It is clod today, isn’t it? forcing the answer yes.
  5. Questions showing sympathy: what are you going to do?

C) Falling-rising pattern.

It is a fall of the voice from a high note to a very long one, and then a rise from the low note to a very high one again. It is used for the following sentences:

  1. Correcting other people: You surely want the briefcase for you. Oh. No. It’s for my son.
  2. Showing differences of opinion: This is cheap watch. Oh. No. It’s very expensive.
  3. Implying something else: The worker left angrily. (The speaker implies that the worker may not turn the next day).

D) Rising-falling pattern.

The voice first rises from a low note and then falls from a very high note. This pattern is used to express certainty as opposed to doubt, as in saying:

His name is Ali. (If I am certain about the person’s name).

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Teach Pronouncing English Individual Sounds

teach phonetics

General Overview:

Individual sounds include mainly the following:

1. Consonant sounds ( voiced or unvoiced )

2. Consonant clusters or blends.

3. Vowels ( short or long )


1. name the letter(s) and write it(them) on the board in uppercase & lowercase form.

2. say the sound of the letter(s) showing students clearly how to pronounce it with your mouth.

3. say some words that include the sound clearly.

4. use word and picture cards to point to the letter(s), say the sound and show the meaning.


1. ask students to repeat after you: the letter(s) and the corresponding sound.

2. ask students to repeat the words that include the sound.

3. write words that include different sounds on the board, say a sound and students circle the word(s) that contain that sound.

4. students match the similar sounds.

5. students give more words that contain a certain sound.

6. ask students to write a word that contain a certain sound.

Teaching Intonation

General Overview:

* Phonology is the whole sound system of a particular language. It deals mainly with the pronunciation of individual sounds, intonation and stress.

* These aspects should be taught in context to encourage students to communicate and understand what is being said.

* A teacher can indicate to those features to highlight them when students examine other aspects like form and meaning.


* It is the variation in volume and pitch in a whole sentence. It is important in language functions and expressing emotions or feelings.

* There are three patterns of it:

1. rise/fall intonation:

* the pitch rises first then fall right down at the end of the sentence.

* it indicates that the speaker finished what he wants to say and nothing more to be said.

2. fall/rise intonation:

* the pitch is low at first then it rises at the end of the sentence.

* it indicates one of the following:

a. surprise or disagreement.

b. the speaker wants the person to whom he speaks to respond or confirm.

c. the speaker hasn’t finished yet what he has to say.

3. flat intonation:

* the pitch is in the same level along the whole sentence.

* it indicates one of the following:

a. the speaker doesn’t really have much to say.

b. the speaker doesn’t want to communicate.

Techniques for indicating to intonation:

1. Using nonsense words:

Ask students to utter nonsense sentence to convey a certain attitude or feeling ( e.g. pride, indifference, anger, boredom, ….. etc ) and get them speak with expressions.

Then repeat the exercise with real sentence.

At last show them how to utter the sentence with the suitable intonation according to each attitude or feeling. Talk about different patterns.

2. Using gestures

Use your hand either up or down in order to indicate the general direction whether the sentence starts with a high or low pitch. Ask students to imitate you when saying the same sentences and other ones of their own. Talk about different patterns while using your hand.

3. Using songs:

By singing some sentences or verses you can refer to intonation without the need of producing every single word.

4. Using the board:

Make marks on the board using arrows up or down on sentences to show the direction of the intonation.

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