Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ESL Pronunciation Tip: Rising and Falling Intonation in WH- and Yes/No Questions

A question mark is placed at the end of a sentence that asks a question. Questions end in both rising and falling intonation. If the sentence ends in falling intonation, the voice tone goes down at the end of the sentence, much like musical notes on a piano. If a sentence ends in rising intonation, the voice tone goes up at the end of the sentence.
 
Falling Intonation 
Questions that begin with who, what, when, where, why, which, and how (often referred to as “wh-questions”) usually end in falling intonation.

Examples: 
What time is it?
Who is she?
When is he coming?
 
Also, commands and statements end in falling intonation. Commands and statements end in a period.
Examples: 
Commands
Shut the door. 
Write your name.

Statements
The color is blue.
It is raining.
 

Rising Intonation 
Questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no” answer (often referred to as “yes/no questions”)
usually end in rising intonation. The voice tone goes up at the end of the sentence.
Examples: 
Is it five o’clock yet?
Is that Mrs. Smith?
Is he coming?
 
In addition, wh-questions that ask for clarification or restating end in rising intonation.
Examples: 
What did you just say?
What did you say your name was? 


Teaching tip adapted from the Reading Horizons method found in the Decoding Strategies for Literacy Development manual published by Reading Horizons. Used with permission.

For additional ESL teaching tips:
Click here to read about the pronunciation of -ed.
Click here to read about pronouncing plurals.
Click here to read about voiced and voiceless sounds.
Click here to read about syllable stress and the schwa.
Click here to read about adding the suffixes -ing, -ed, -er, and -est.
Click here to read about teaching common suffixes. 
Click here to read about teaching common prefixes. 
Click here to read about decoding multi-syllabic words. 
Click here to read about spelling words that end in S, F, and Z.
Click here to read about other sounds for c and g.

23 comments:

  1. tnks for this document :)

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  2. You are welcome! I'm glad you found this resource helpful!

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  3. Thanks information on your blog has been very helpful for me as a teacher.

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    1. I'm glad to hear that, Sharon. Thank you!

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  4. Hi,
    I would like to know where I can find the audio for this lesson.

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    1. Ortensia, you can click on the "listen now" button at the top of the blog post to hear the post read aloud, but there are no guarantees that the intonation won't be compromised with the computerized voice that is employed. :) The Reading Horizons software teaches these concepts with audio (voice narration). Otherwise, I would work with (or have students work with) a competent English speaker to confirm proper intonation and pronunciation.

      Thanks for your interest!

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  5. cristal clear...thx

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome! Thank you for visiting my blog!

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  6. It is really helpful thx

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  7. really helpfull lession....thanx

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad you found this post helpful!

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  8. This really helped me a lot :)) thank you thank you thank you maam :))

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  9. thanks for this.it really helped me....

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  10. Very helpful. Nice blog. Thanks! :)

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    Replies
    1. Glad this was helpful to you, Roniel!

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  11. Wow, I think all of the lessons that i am searching is here thanks a lot

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  12. Your blog is fantastic! I have been engrossed in teaching listening and reading for quite some time and your lessons just fit in. Thanks.

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  13. Thank You Heidi. This is really Helpful .

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