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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Intonation teaching can be fun

Trying to fit a pronunciation course into an inflexible national system based on competency assessment is difficult as pronunciation is a skill that fits into every spoken competency. However, if they want boxes ticked I'll do it and chose the competency "Can negotiate a complex problematic exchange". We watched many snippets from Getting it Right at Work by NSW AMES (I worked on the video scripts) and used good models.

Then we looked at the intonation patterns and their associated meaning  from eachclip, such as assertively stating needs or establishing rapport or showing empathy. Like any aspect of training in pronunciation, these were of course drilled and practised independently.

Part of the analysis of the texts was also looking atstressed  keywords as well as pausing and chunking into thought groups.

Finally it was all put together and the students produced wonderful role plays. They all still have pronunciation issues but the way they communicate their intended meaning has improved. The work on chunking and pausing has increased fluency and intonation work has 'softened' their more direct ways of speaking.

One student who has a very direct manner has softened her language and is using upward rising intonation more. She is also putting more emphasis on keywords with a change of pitch and this has had the effect of softening her speech as well. Another has benefited from pausing and intonation which alleviates, to some degree her difficulty with the actual sounds. Another has been helped with his linking problem by grouping words together and focusing on "chunks" rather than individual words. One, who you will readily be able to recognise, has used intonation, expressions and body language to emulate his boss! He sounds like a very laid-back Aussie! (Don't you just love the classroom effect of the snake-like cord)

Listen to Olga, Nanpha, Wassim and Rodrigo negotiate their needs beautifully.


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