student awareness of
intonation at discourse level
- by Jeanette Corbett
how to integrate it into future teaching and my professional
the evaluation of my lesson, I would conclude that it is very
important to begin to integrate intonation in classroom activities.
Admittedly within discourse, there is still a lack of materials
and nor can we make an authentic recording every week, however
as highlighted by Jenner & Bradford almost any existing
listening material can be exploited (3).
First I feel it is important to develop learners' awareness
without blinding them with science. By introducing it gently
as a gist listening with questions relating to voice features
as I have already done in some classes, we can get a natural
response from students as to their assessment of the tape
- an assessment is what we do naturally in a spoken interaction,
we make assumptions about the other speaker as the conversation
I also feel it is important to expose students to authentic
texts, perhaps first listening for perceptions, then marking
the tonic and tone units to develop their awareness of the
important information and division across syntactic boundaries.
With lower level groups have I already done this activity,
after which they shadow read, the text with the tape. This
helped cross the divide between receptive knowledge and production.
They admitted that it was difficult but commented equally
useful for their pronunciation and their overall production
of the piece of discourse.
After developing their awareness of tone units, the general
patterns across spoken discourse can be introduced and students
can mark the changes in pitch across chosen sections, as done
in my lesson. For noticing purposes, they can compare to their
own language as well as changing tone boundaries on the script
or key choices, then discussing the difference in meaning.
A step further as suggested by Clennell would be encouraging
students to record native speakers, then transcribe it marking
the prosodic features, practise, after which they record themselves
then compare to the original as a C.R. activity (2). I think
this is a wonderful activity in developing awareness and encouraging
production. However it seems to be workable in an English-speaking
environment, perhaps we could encourage students to this using
a video scene.
making suggestions for the integration of intonation into
the classroom, I will draw the line at activities to force
the production of pitch variation. First we have to raise
their awareness of its importance by allowing them to notice
the variations. Then supply a classroom with genuinely communicative
activities, which allow learners to develop their management
of spoken discourse in L2.
a teacher I have found this a very useful assignment to complete.
One can read suggested material and form conclusions about
its usefulness for learners. However it is not until you analyse
a tape script for it discoursal features, do you really understand
what your language is about.
Sound Foundations, Adrian Underhill, Heinemann, 1994
a) Part 1: Discovery toolkit, level 3.5 Intonation
b) Part 2: Classroom toolkit, level 3.4 Intonation
2. Raising the pedagogic status of Discourse Intonation Teaching,
ELT Journal, Volume 51/2 April 1997, Charles Clennell
3. Intonation through listening,
MET, Volume 10/4, Jenner and Bradford
4. Ch 4, Discourse Analysis & Phonology, Discourse analysis
for Language teachers, McCarthy, CUP, 1991
5. Ch 5, Discourse in spoken language, Discourse analysis
for Language teachers, McCarthy, CUP, 1991 Used in planning
6. Ch.8, Intonation, About Language, Scott Thornbury, CUP,
the beginning of the article
the lesson plan
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