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.

Teaching is not a random activity. It is regulated by different theories and methodologies. The problem of what the best approach in learning a foreign language is not a new thing. These days teachers try to use the methods and techniques that best suit their students? needs. As there is no perfect recipe for delivering the perfect lesson, it is the teacher?s duty to employ the method that will help the students fulfil their linguistic potential. Methods that actively involve the students, through a conscious effort, in the learning experience (task-based learning, the communicative approach, community language learning, learning through discovery) are preferred over learning a language through grammar-translation or presentation by the teacher. As the students? motivation needs to be stimulated, they will be introduced in the atmosphere through the so-called Engage phase, which functions as a warm-up activity. The lesson may start with a discussion on a certain topic, discussion based on pictures or short videos, songs, poems(for younger students) or a quote (for older students) or anything that will trigger their attention and keep them interested to find out more. Once they are interested in the topic, we can move onto the next phase, the Study phase, in which focus will be on language and the way it is constructed. The most frequently used method during this phase seems to be drilling, even if it is a traditional method based on repetition. Exercises are meant to check the students? understanding of the new material. Mistakes will be corrected during this phase. During the last phase, the Activate phase, the students will use the recently learned structures/vocabulary in life-like situations( role play, discussion, surveys), filling in charts. Accents lies not on accuracy, in this phase, but on communication. Going through these phases is necessary, but does not always ensure success. A successful class is the one whose objective has been fully met. Students need to know to what extent they?ve met the objectives, so they will always be given feedback on their performance. Feedback can be either verbal or written. Encouraging the students for further success is essential. Criticism can only discourage them and make them lose their motivation. Correction is performed either by the student himself, by the other students or by the teacher. When correcting the students? work the teacher has to be objective. Teaching, learning, evaluation are part of an evolutive process in which teacher and students are,ultimately, partners.


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