By now, you've had the chance to analyze and practice a special English intonation pattern. Hopefully, this exercise not only improved your pronunciation, but got you thinking about the process for improving your pronunciation. This week's exercises were only a glimpse of the unique intonation patterns that influence English. If you want to improve your pronunciation, I hope you will use the system detailed this week to guide your self-study.
What are the important take-aways from this week?
First, observation is key. So often, students complain about their pronunciation, but don't take the time to watch how it is used. With vocabulary or grammar, they look for patterns and take notes on situations where a word or structure shows up. The same can and should be done for pronunciation. Is a certain tone used for jokes? For facts? For reprimands? Focusing on an area, observing it, and categorizing it will help you master it.
Second, practice more than you want. Pronunciation is a physical exercise as well as a language skill. You actually need to train the muscles in your mouth and neck to perform the way you need them to. Practice isn't just necessary to prove you intellectually understand the skill. Rather, it's vital for improving your muscle memory and range.
Self study will help you solve some of your pronunciation problems, but remember that there are also wonderful resources on YouTube, Udemy, and in the teachers you meet along the way.
As you saw from the activity posted earlier this week, there is a particular pattern to intonation in questions. You probably noticed that there was a higher pitch or tone at the end of the questions shared in the video. This is the typical pattern for questions in English. Knowing this, how would you say the following questions?
1. Isn't she a doctor?
2. Are you going to the store?
3. What's your favorite place to eat?
4. Do you need anything?
5. Have you ever been to France?
6. Who should I talk to?
7. Have you seen this movie?
8. Are we going out tonight?
9. Do you think he wants this?
10. How do I get there?
Are you ready for a pronunciation challenge? Try out this video on intonation and see how you do.
If you haven’t already, make a visit to Rachel’s English Youtube channel. Poke around and find a video that’s particularly helpful or that you really enjoy. Once you have a recommendation, bring it back here and post it in the comments section to share with other students and teachers.
East Bay ESL is an English language school for adult students in the San Francisco East Bay.