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Pronunciation techniques in the classroom

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Another important area of English is the stress, placement of stress on words, the rhythm of the language– de, DA, de, DA, de, DA– and the intonation. We have rising intonation. We have falling intonation. We have rising and falling intonation. We have falling and rising intonation. And we also have pretty level intonation, which we use when we’re kind of bored. Yeah.
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Good morning, everybody. Good morning. Oh, how are you today? Fine. Oh, some so so. Some fine. Some great. Oh. I’m great too because today is Monday. I think the difficulty for me is intonation and accent for English, because in the Thai language and the English language are different. I will play the tape, and you will listen to the tape. So how can you make your students more aware of intonation? You can do this visually by using your eyebrows. When the intonation rises, your eyebrows rise. When the intonation rises, then you raise your head. Get your students to raise their heads. Falling intonation, make their heads go down. Nice day, isn’t it?
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It’s important that they have a visual representation of intonation. A good example of this is for a list. If you have a blue, a red, and a green. So on the board, you can put an arrow rising on the blue, rising on the red, and falling on the green. So you have a red, a blue, and a green. This is– I quoted from my favourite song. What is it? Montakarn is teaching her students how the rhythm of speaking English can make you sound more fluent. Yes, you can predict the meaning of the sentence, because all pink words are the content words that you use.
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To emphasise the rhythm of English, you have to emphasise the alternation of weaker and stronger beats. One way you can do this is by simply starting the students speaking together with a one, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. And then introduce another sound. So a one, a two, a three, a four. And a one, and a two, and a three, and a 4. 101, 102, 103, 104. And 101, and 102, and 103, and 104. This makes the students aware of the potential difference between their language and English. With English, you can fit a number of weaker beats in between the stronger beats. So when I was young, I listened to the radio.
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The way that you have to say it more fluently, you have to focus on the content words. When I was young, I listened to the radio. It doesn’t mean that you have to say every single words like we speak in Thai. When I was young, I listened to the radio. No need to say it like that. OK. To make your students more aware of the stress, here’s something you can do. Using numbers, something which they’re familiar with, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Now, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Notice the pitch changes and the stress on five. Now you as a teacher, back chain this.
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Don’t know what I mean? Here we go. 6, 5, 6, 4, 5, 6, 3, 4, 5, 6, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Now, to make it even more memorable for the students, ask them to raise their eyebrows on the stressed syllable, for example, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 5, 6, 4, 5, 6. Her eyes are blue. Unstressed for “her” and “are,” because it’s a structure word. It’s only the structure word. No need to stress that word. Her eyes are blue. Her eyes are blue. Eyes blue. Eyes blue. Eyes are blue. Eyes are blue. Her eyes are blue. Her eyes are blue.
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By stressing each individual word, I change the meaning of the sentence. And it’s important that you help the visual learners to see where the stress is. One way you can do this is by marking the stress clearly on the board. The “you,” right? If I were you. In class, I would focus on the sentence stress. You need to hear just the primary stress of the sentence. The rest is not important. You can’t go back. Many teachers prefer to use a red square for this, rather than a circle or a dot, because a circle or a dot may be used as a letter in the language of your students. (SINGING) Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O.
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And on his farm, he had some [INAUDIBLE]. E-I-E-I-O. One of the most popular techniques for raising a student’s appreciation of the stress, and the movement, and the intonation in the classroom is by using songs. (SINGING) Had a farm E-I-E-I-O. The song help the student fluency in using English, and good intonation, and have a good attitude to study English too. (SINGING) Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O. Oh, good job. Excellent.

Watch teachers using a variety of techniques to help both primary and secondary learners better understand and use correct stress and intonation in English. Teacher trainer John Kay provides a commentary.

  • Do you think different techniques are suitable for younger or older learners?
  • Do you (or could you) use the techniques from the video with your learners?

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