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Learning English: using the correct pronunciation

In the above video, you heard Sarah talk about why pronunciation and stress are important in conveying meaning.

Rising and falling intonation

In the Repeat Sentence and Read Aloud test items you will need to use both word and sentence stress to help convey meaning.

Rising and falling intonation patterns express meaning effectively by showing how ideas are linked or coming to an end. The table below lists some examples of how rising and falling intonation convey meaning.

Asking questions Example
If a question is a yes or no question, your voice rises at the end of the question. Have you registered your details with the student accommodation guild? ↑
If a question is an information question, your voice falls at the end of the question. When are we expecting to finish the assignment? ↓
Question tags Example
If you are using a question tag to clarify, your voice rises to let the listener know that you expect more information. We aren’t expecting to finish the assignment by Friday, are we? ↑
If you think you know something, but would like to confirm it, let the voice fall in the question tag. You are staying in student accommodation, aren’t you? ↓
Making statements Example
Statements that give facts or information use falling intonation at the end of the sentence. Please submit your work online, if you can. ↓
Emotive words and expressions use rising or falling intonation depending on the type of emotion you want to express. Eating a balanced diet can lead to positive health outcomes. ↑
Overeating can lead to negative health outcomes. ↓
Listing things Example
Items in a list use rising intonation until the final item, which uses falling intonation. Students will use the data to create graphs, ↑ display them in tables, ↑ and generate a survey. ↓


The PTE Test

In the PTE Test, the Repeat Sentence task type requires you to understand and remember a sentence, then repeat the sentence exactly as you hear it using correct pronunciation and stress.

Copy the stress and intonation patterns of the sentence you hear. Listen to the way the speaker uses stress and intonation on the recording. These patterns help convey meaning. You need to copy the stress and intonation by speaking calmly and clearly to produce similar speech sounds.

Let’s take a look at an example. The stressed words or syllables are in bold and the intonation is marked by arrows. Remember the best test responses contain words and phrases stressed correctly with native-like fluency.

I’m going to the program welcome, ↑ orientation session, ↑ and group workshop ↑ for new students. ↓
If you’d like to more about PTE success, check out the full online course, from Griffith University, below. 


Beare, Kenneth. (2020). Rising and Falling Intonation in Pronunciation. Retrieved from here.

British Council. (2020). Word Stress. Retrieved from here.

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