For those of you who've been somewhere else, here are the first two parts of this post:
Part 1 - linking ; Part 2 - rhythm
"some expressions or words can have as many as 9 or more different meaning or connotations depending on how they are said"
This is the kind of lesson that you can and should get fired up about!
Some classes clam up for the first few minutes. A warmer activity really helps with this one. Perhaps try teaching them a short singing technique (if you're musically inclined), 'lah'-ing up and down a scale, then a slightly higher scale and a third one, to get them all using their voice - and in a range of pitches. Or tell them you've had a song in your head all day and teach them the chorus, and get them to sing or 'lah' along. [Sometimes singing a few notes to yourself before class makes your intonation far more listenable! It's also a great technique to use before a job interview.]
If the teacher is exaggerating their intonation in this lesson, the class is more likely to join in (and enjoy it!). The idea hinges around making the learners aware of the link between feelings and intonation, and then convincing them to let their feelings out in a very dramatic fashion (keeping it role-played is more structured and liberating for them) for the duration of the class. The more they exaggerate, the better.
Try saying the following in five different ways.
- How are you?
- Do we have to speak English, teacher?
- I never watch TV
When they've started to realise the possibilities:
Me: John, say "Hello" to me
John: "Hello" (neutral, polite tone)
Me: John, now say "Hello" to a friend
John: "Hello" (much more upbeat tone)
Me: John, say "Hello" to a 6-month-old-baby!!!
John: "Hello" (contorted face, exaggerated fall-rise tone, etc)
Note: Much of the "extra" meaning will derive also from facial expression and even body-language.
Give out the first role play and ask them to try it in pairs:
A: What's your name?
A: Where are you from?
B: I'm from the U. S.
A: What do you do?
B: I'm a medical student.
Give them the following situations one by one and again ask them to practise them in pairs, reversing the roles after each turn:
i) B's a new student at the language school that A attends.
ii) To be said as quickly as possible.
iii) A's a customs official and B's suitcase is secretly full of illegal substances.
iv) To be said in as deep a voice as possible.
Then give out the second dialogue and go through the situations below.
A: I have something to tell you.
B: What is it?
A: I'm going to have a baby.
i) B is A's mother. A's 16 years old.
ii) They're a 60-something couple.
iii) B is A's best friend. And A's male.
iv) To be communicated with gestures and facial expressions only.
(adapted from Counihan)
Practising the regular 3(pause)-3(pause)-2-2-3 rhythm of limericks can be a useful method of getting learners used to the (fairly) regular rhythm of spoken English and, moreover, it's good practice of fitting all those unstressed syllables into the spaces between stresses!
Bugs Bunny was cheating at Ludo,
So Daffy Duck floored him with judo.
Elma Fudd got his shooter,
Shot Bugs in the hooter,
And created a novelty version of Cluedo.
They weren't sure that Jack was insane,
When they put him in charge of the train,
But now they're convinced,
'Cause the train has been minced.
They should have known after the plane...
For advanced levels, Robert Louis Stevenson's rhythmic evocation of a train ride From a Railway Carriage works in much the same way:
"Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;..."
New Information Stress:
MADE IN AUSTRALIA
In response to a wh-question, the information supplied is stressed. Otherwise said, "it is pronounced with more breath force, since it is more prominent against a background given information in the question."
Also, these questions can be answered by just giving the new information. (Information given in the question may be omitted.)
a) What's your NAME?
b) (My name's) MIchael.
a) Where are you FROM?
b) (I'm from) ENgland.
a) Where do you LIVE?
b) (I live) in auSTRAlia.
a) When does the term END
b) (It ends) in juLY.
Moving the tonic stress from its sentence-final position to another word emphasises that content word, which is usually a modal auxiliary, an intensifier, an adverb, etc.
i. It was very BOring. (unmarked)
ii. It was VEry boring. (emphatic)
i. You mustn't talk so LOUDly. (unmarked)
ii. You MUSTN'T talk so loudly. (emphatic)
Some are emphatic by nature:
indeed, utterly, absolute, terrific, tremendous, awfully, terribly, great, grand, really, definitely, truly, literally, extremely, surely, completely, barely, entirely, very (adverb), very (adjective), quite, too, enough, pretty, far, especially, alone, only, own, -self.
Here, any word in a sentence can hold the tonic stress as long as the word can be contrasted with another.
A) Do you like this one or THAT one?
B) I like THIS one.
Or in a longer sentence:
She didn't steal your red hat! (It wasn't her.)
She didn't steal your red hat! (Emphatic.)
She didn't steal your red hat! (She only borrowed it!)
She didn't steal your red hat! (It wasn't yours.)
She didn't steal your red hat! (It was your blue one.)
She didn't steal your red hat! (It was your red scarf.)
I ordered caviar and champagne.
He played the piano yesterday.
Weak forms revisited:
WHERE THERE WERE
1) Record sentences before class. Better still, ask someone else to read them without telling them it's for pronunciation.
2) Hand out the, er, hand-out with missing words. Students have to listen for the weak forms and fill in the spaces.
a) I'm going ___ town ___ half ___ hour.
b) I think they ___ gone ___ library.
c) They thanked me ___ helping ___ find the money.
d) Last time I saw ___ she ___ on ___ way ___ town.
e) If ___ been sensible ___ listened ___ my teacher.
f) ___ just got a present ___ my father.
g) ___ like ___ glass ___ two ___ water.
h) ___ know ___ Mary is?
i) Last night was went to a place ___ lots of cafes.
[where there were]
(This activity from Michael Vaughn-Rees' excellent book "Pronunciation".)
The idea here is that imitating the speech of a good native speaker role model will help learners reduce their accents.
My own self-realised experience of this has resulted in a French accent that, although still noticeably "British" (attractively, by any chance?), receives compliments. When I want to switch to French, I think of a typical French speaker and how they sound - preferably when speaking my native language. (For some reason Jean-Paul Gaultier springs to mind far too easily! Perhaps because I've often heard him speak my first language.)
So, in a rather playful way (and with no disrespect to any French people reading this), I zen joost statt too eemeetate 'ow zey speak een my orn langueege et après quelques secondes, quand je changes de langue, mon accent est vachement plus "français" que si j'avais changé directement entre les deux sans cette étape intermédiaire. [~and after a few seconds, when I switch languages, my accent is a hell of a lot much more "French" than it would have been if I'd changed directly between the two without the middle step.]
I now do the same with Korean too. (Though I have no specific role model yet.) It's bizarre how different my voice sounds even to me when I switch languages!
Here's another example I came across recently by a guy who runs a "Reverse Accent Mimicry" speech clinic. (His role model's Maurice Chevalier, by the way.) As he says, it's spontaneous and immediately effective!
Of course, a strong accent can be beneficial: most people you speak with will simplify their speech if your accent indicates you don't have much of a grip on the language. So there's the downside that if you accent is too good the person you're speaking to may think you to be better at their language than you actually are and quickly leave you behind.
Suggested (accessible) role models here in Korea include the casts of 'Friends' or 'Sex and the City'.