ESL Study Guide

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The role of intonation in speaking

How important is intonation in your speaking? Many second language learners commonly make the mistake of simply believing that their pronunciation is sufficient because they can produce the basic sounds of English and therefore require no further work.

I can be understood, why should I continue working to improve my pronunciation?

This is where intonation comes in. Communication is often dependent on many factors and one of them is intonation. Consider the following situation.

You are in class and have just been caught cheating on an exam. Your teacher is standing in front of you and says "What do you think you are doing?"

At this point, you may know you are in trouble, but exactly how much you can tell by their intonation. Does your teacher shout at you? Does your teacher speak in a tired manner? Does your teacher lean forward looking you in the eye and say it softly, almost in a monotone? Does the teacher simply state it in a bored manner?

In this case, their intonation will tell you just how much trouble you are in.

Good luck with your studies,
ESL Study Guide

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