(1) Intonation: The way your voice goes up and down while you speak.
In English, rising intonation can create a question..
(2) Word Stress: How loud and long you say something.
You need to give word stress to the important words.
(3) Timing: The speed you say different things and the pauses in your speech.
Timing is very important when singing or telling a joke.
1. What is this video about?
b. Word stress, timing, and intonation
c. Using five senses in design
2. Why is it hard to understand these phrases?
a. People say them quickly
b. People don’t use the same intonation
c. They have hard vocabulary
3. Why are non-native speakers hard to understand?
a. They have bad grammar
b. They use different intonation, word stress, and timing
c. They use strange words
By Jeremy Schaar
Today’s Saturday listening lesson is on an easy idea. Jinsop Lee says that most design focuses on sight and touch. But these are only two of the five sense. He suggests that designers should start thinking about sound, taste, and smell. Good idea, right?
He makes a chart to show this and I think you’ll easily understand the video.
It’s also a good idea for anyone who makes or markets a product.
For you improving your listening, let’s focus on a few phrases that are simple, but difficult to understand.
:30 Let me tell you about: This is used before presenting an idea
2:30 To do this: This is used before explain how to do something
4:15 I used to: This is used to talk about some past action
4:50 It’s because of the: This is used to explain why something is true
These phrases are easy to understand when you read them, but hard to understand when you hear them. They’re hard because native speakers say them so quickly. We push the words together. Watch these videos to understand. You’ll hear me say the expressions above and then hear Jinsop say them in the video.
While you listen, notice my intonation pattern is similar, but the timing and word stress are different.
For your practice, you need to do two things.
(1) When you’re listening to someone speak, notice the way they say the words.
(2) Practice speaking like Jinsop. If you can speak like him, then you can understand him.
Non-native speakers are really hard to understand when their intonation, timing, or word stress is different, so work hard to make sure yours sounds like a native speaker.
How to teach Intonation
Here are five ways to teach it in the classroom
Play a game The concept of intonation can be hard, but students are quick to know what’s wrong when they’re listening for it. So, create a dialogue and then and read it for the class. Read some lines of the dialogue with the wrong intonation. Have the students note which ones are wrong. The person/team that correctly identifies all the wrong intonation wins.
Dialogue Tree Lots of times, you can use rising or falling intonation, but the meaning changes. (For example: “I bought a car” –vs– “I bought a car?”.) Have the students write a dialogue on some theme. Every third line, they should write two possible replies—one with rising and one with falling intonation—and then continue on writing both dialogues. Make the dialogues short or they’ll run out of paper quickly.
I only go up Give the students a discussion topic, but tell them one partner can only use rising intonation. (So, one partner will need to ask lots of one word questions.) They should discuss the question for two minutes and then switch.
Identify the weakness and make it go away Do your students have trouble with some specific intonation pattern? If so, force them to practice it in creative ways. For starters, they should write dialogues that use the pattern. Then give them discussion questions that use the pattern or discussion questions that might elicit the pattern for the answer.
Just the intonation, please After students write a dialogue ask them to label it in a way that will let them know the intonation patterns. (For examples, they can put and “up” or “down” arrow on each word. Then, they should cross out all the words and read the dialogue without words. They can just make neutral sounds (e.g. grunts) or hum the sentences.
What’s intonation? Why is it important?
Intonation is when your voice goes up or down in a sentence. Said another way, intonation is your voice going from high to low or low to high. Your voice can start high and go down (falling intonation). It can start low and go up (rising intonation). It can go up, down, up. It can go down, up, down.
It’s important because intonation affects meaning in different ways. Lets look at some examples.
I eat apples.
You like apples?
Rising and then falling
Where did he go?
Note that if you change the intonation pattern, the meaning changes.
Rising intonation changes a statement to a question.
I eat apples?
Falling intonation makes a question sound unimportant to you. (You don’t care about the answer.)
You like apples?
Double rising intonation on a wh- question makes it sound like you misunderstood the first time you heard the answer.
Where did he go?
Here are some more resources for you to check out to learn more about intonation and all the ways it can affect meaning.
While learning all the rules for how intonation can affect meaning can be useful, just listening a lot and unconsciously imitating patterns is even better.
Using Limericks to help students improve intonation, timing, and word stress.
A limerick is a humorous, five line poem where the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme. The third and fourth lines rhyme too (i.e. AABBA rhyming). Often, the lines that rhyme also have the same number of syllables.
After the bear caught the fish 7
A genie gave him a wish 7
The bear didn’t know what to say 8
So, he sent the genie away 8
“I already have the fish!” 7
Limericks (and other poems) can be great for helping students improve speaking skills. They give English a little bit more structure and repetition makes it easier to feel intonation, timing, and word stress patterns.
When students write enough of their own poems, they’ll begin to instinctively write lines with the same number of syllables. This is when you know they’re really getting English patterns down.
Moreover, if students are paying attention to the syllable counts, they’ll begin to see how we can play with English to create new effects. Exceptions to rules drive students crazy, but not native speakers. We use and create exceptions to make English work for us. To wit: subjects don’t have to come at the beginning and words like “everyone” can be pronounced with three or four syllables.
The only problem is that limericks often have so much new vocabulary and strange grammar that teaching them can be tricky. So, with apologies to actual poets, we wrote four limericks that you might use in the classroom. Can you add anymore? Post in the comments!
There once was a sad man with a beer 9
From the side of his face fell a tear 9
Yes he was so sad, 5
His heart felt so bad, 5
When he saw his face in the mirror! 9
The rain fell upon the once dry ground 9
And sent everyone running around 9
They didn’t want to be wet 7
So they were filled with regret 7
For warm summer sunshine they moaned 9
Tim rode his blue bike to school 7
Brad took his time like a fool 7
Judy wandered alone 6
Bobby talked on the phone 6
Tim was all alone at school 7
Prosody (Word Stress, Timing, and Intonation) Lesson Plans
In recent years, language teachers have generally agreed that teaching word stress, timing, and intonation are very important. Not every class, nor every student, needs prosody work; but many do.
Fine and dandy, but how to teach it exactly? This is the introduction to a series of lesson plans on prosody. The lessons will appear in the coming weeks.
Just a few notes:
First, in the introduction to Sue F. Miller’s wonderful book “Targeting Pronunciation: Communicating Clearly in English”, she says that the most important thing in any lesson on prosody is listening and repeating. Word to that and you’ll see it a lot here.
Also, there needs to be something to practice. Material is provided here around various themes. You can easily switch it up though. Using sentences and vocabulary from your units is a great idea.
Here are some other helpful posts on prosody.