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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