How to explain timing

How to Explain Timing

UPDATE: Here’s a lesson plan on timing that you’ll love.

UPDATE 2: Here are some ways to teach timing in the classroom.

Timing is how much time we give to a part of a speech in relation to the other parts of speech around it.

For example: I’m reeeeeealy tired.

And: I’m really tired.

In the first sentence “reeeeee” takes a lot longer to say than the other parts of the sentence. In the second, it takes about the same amount of time.

Timing can be long or short. In the above example, “reeeee” takes a long time. Here’s an example of a simple sentence with short, normal, and long timing.

I’m good.

I’m good.

I’m good.

Timing can also be used for pauses in a sentence. Compare:

That movie was interesting.


That movie was…interesting.


Finally, note how timing can affect the meaning of a sentence. I’m reeeeeealy tired is stronger. I’m good (said quickly) sounds like the speaker doesn’t want you to care about their goodness. That movie was…interesting means the movie wasn’t interesting.

Timing doesn’t change the meaning of a word or a sentence by itself—tone, intonation, and stress are also important—but timing is a key element of speech and something students should understand.

How to Teach Intonation

How to teach Intonation

Click here for some thoughts on what intonation is and why it’s important.

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.

Intonation

Intonation

Click here for some thoughts on how to teach intonation.

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.

Falling intonation

I eat apples.

Rising intonation

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intonation_(linguistics)

http://rachelsenglish.com/

http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~krussll/138/sec3/inton.htm

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.

Unstressed

This lesson is part of a series of one-hour lessons that will help students improve their prosody skills. Prosody, in short, is word stress, timing, and intonation. For an introduction to the series, click here.

Name: Unstressed

Time: 1 hour

Prep Time: It depends on how much you already know about word stress. You may have to learn a little more before starting.

Materials: This Worksheet

Primary Objective: Improve Word Stress Skills

Other Benefits: Become familiar with some money expressions

Plan:

5 Minutes Review what word stress is. Explain that today, instead of focusing the stressed words, you’re going to work on noticing the unstressed words.

15 Minutes Pass out this sheet. Read the full sentences from the answer sheet. Make sure to say the missing words with minimal stress. The students should try to write the missing words. Review the answers.

20 Minutes Put the students in groups and ask them to add to the list of commonly unstressed words. Ask them to try to make groups of similar words. Demonstrate by making a list of helper verbs (e.g. have, do, etc.) on the board.

Then, each student should come to the front of the class and write one commonly unstressed word on the board. Demonstrate the groups of words by circling the prepositions, underlining the helper verbs, and putting a square around the pronouns.

Write an example sentence on the board with one word from each group.

5 Minutes Have the students practice reading the sentences on the sheets in pairs.

15 Minutes Have the students write their own sentences. They should leave out or erase the unstressed words. Finally, they should read the sentences for their partner. The partner should try to fill in the missing words.

Extension Practice reading the sentences a final time, but use physical movements to reinforce the stressed/unstressed words. For instance, have everyone stand up. When there is a stressed word, they should jump. When there is an unstressed word, they should duck.

Notes: Just because a group of words is commonly unstressed, doesn’t mean they are always unstressed. Of course, lots of prepositions, pronouns, and helper verbs are stressed sometimes. This is all just a guideline.

Ideas for Homework: Students might watch a short clip of something and rewrite the transcript. They should underline the stressed words. (For example, they might watch a video like this, open the interactive transcript on the right and choose one paragraph for them to do).

Worksheet—Unstressed Words

These words are not usually stressed

Have Are Do Is
The A Lot Not
That It This In
For Of On At

Listen to your teacher read these sentences. Use the words above and other words to complete them.

 

1.  I __________ never saved __________  __________  __________  money.

2.  Don’t __________  think that __________  too expensive?

3.  How __________ __________ usually spend __________  money?

4.  This __________ __________  good price. You should think __________  getting __________.

5.  __________ __________ usually find __________  good deal?

6.  How much __________ __________ pay __________ __________ dress?

7.  Who handles __________  money __________ __________ family?

8.  He asked __________ __________  new loan, but they denied __________.

  1. A: __________ __________ want __________ go shopping?
  2. B: No, I can’t afford __________  buy __________  more clothes.

Answers

 

1.  I have never saved a lot of money.

2.  Don’t you think that is too expensive?

3.  How do you usually spend your money?

4.  This is a good price. You should think about getting it.

5.  Do you usually find a good deal?

6.  How much did you pay for that dress?

7.  Who handles the money in your family?

8.  He asked for a new loan, but they denied him.

  1. A: Do you want to go shopping?
  2. B: No, I can’t afford to buy any more clothes.

Word Bubbles

This lesson is part of a series of one-hour lessons that will help students improve their prosody skills. Prosody, in short, is word stress, timing, and intonation. For an introduction to the series, click here.

Name: Word Bubbles

Time: 1 hour

Prep Time: None

Materials: These Worksheets

Primary Objective: Improve word stress skills

Other Benefits: Discuss sports

Plan:

Introduce the concept (5 minutes) On the board, write three sentences with circles above each word. Bigger circles mean more stress. Read them with the students.

(Note: It’s difficult to change the font in this blog, so in place of circles, you’ll see letters here. S=Small, M=Medium, B=Big. On the worksheets, you’ll see circles (bubbles) instead.)

S     B    M   S

I   love football.

S       B  M  S

She’s so stupid.

M  S       S      M      M

I don’t think that’s true.

Practice as a class (25 minutes) Pass out the first page of these worksheets. Students should listen to you read the sentences and make circles above the syllables depending on how much stress the syllable needs. More stress means a bigger circle.

Then, pass out another worksheet with suggested answers and practice reading the sentences together.

Practice in Pairs (20 minutes) Pass out the third worksheet to half the class with similar but slightly different sentences.

Pass out the fourth worksheet to the other half of the class.

Students should complete the worksheet in pairs, with one student reading and the other making circles above their words.

Then they should practice reading them in pairs.

Finally, practice reading them as a class.

On their own (10 Minutes) Now, ask students to write a couple sentences on their own and make their own circles above the words. They should practice reading these in pairs as well.

Extension: Instead of just writing a few sentences, students might write whole dialogues and note the word stress throughout.

Ideas for Homework: Tell the students to choose a song they enjoy, find the lyrics, and create stress markings for them.

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