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IELTS Preparation Series 3, Episode 12: Intonation


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0:12

Hello, and welcome to Study English, IELTS Preparation. I'm Margot Politis.

0:19

Intonation is a feature of pronunciation, one of the assessment criteria in the IELTS

0:24

Speaking Test. You will need to use appropriate intonation in the test. You also need to understand

0:30

the intonation used by the interviewer.

0:34

Intonation is important in spoken English because it conveys meaning in many ways. Changing

0:40

the pitch in your voice - making it higher or lower - allows you

0:44

to show surprise: "Oh, really!" or boredom: "Oh, really".

0:52

Let's listen to some intonation patterns used for specific functions.

0:56

First there's the high or rising tone, used for asking a yes/no question:

1:06

Do you find English difficult?

1:11

Are you listening?

1:17

Is this clear?

1:19

The rising tone is also used for showing expectation as you can hear when this furniture maker

1:26

talks about seeing the inside of some rare timber:

1:31

And I go down and it is really a fascinating day when I actually see a log being put on

1:37

the head rig and that first cut and I can't wait to have a look at that grain that's actually

1:42

opened up after a tree has been growing for 300 or 400 years.

1:46

And it's used for showing interest and excitement.

1:49

That's awesome. Absolutely awesome.

1:52

A low or falling tone is used for making a statement as does this art gallery director:

2:00

The Art Gallery of South Australia commenced the joint program in art history with the

2:05

University of Adelaide in 2001.

2:09

Questions with who, what, when, why and how also use this low or falling tone:

2:20

Who are you looking for?

2:26

What is that you're reading?

2:35

Where is the art gallery?

2:36

Why are you learning English?

2:43

How are you? Listen to the rising and falling tones used

2:51

by the woman in the next clip to explain the properties of granular materials:

2:57

Take vacuum packed coffee for example. This is very much solid like behaviour because

3:01

it's stiff, stiff as a brick and at the same time it's strong enough to hold your weight.

3:07

And yet, if we open the pack, I can pour it just like I would pour water.

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When listing things a rise-falling tone is used:

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Granular materials constitute a wide range of everyday common materials, such as powders

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through to natural grains such as nuts, rice, wheat grains and mineral resources.

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A level tone or a low rising tone can also be used for listing:

3:35

We have 3 studio cabins, 2 two bedroom cabins, 2 tepees and a campground.

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Finally, a fall-rising tone expresses uncertainty:

3:51

Well, I'm not sure what all this means

3:58

Now we'll look at some sample IELTS interviews. Listen carefully for the intonation patterns.

4:05

Where else have you travelled?

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I've travelled to other Asian countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore and of

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course I've travelled around in my own country.

4:18

Where would you most like to go?

4:21

I would like very much to go to Europe, for example UK, Spain or Netherlands, but I also

4:30

want to go to Dubai and India.

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The two questions the interviewer asks are 'wh-' type questions starting with 'where'.

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Did you notice that the pitch of his voice fell at the end of both questions? Like this:

4:48

Where else have you travelled?

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Where would you most like to go?

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In the answer, notice how the countries are listed using a level tone that then falls

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for the last item in the list 'in my own country'.

5:05

I've travelled to other Asian countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore and of

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course I've travelled around in my own country.

5:13

In response to the second question her voice rises to show expectation. She then lists

5:20

the countries with her voice pitch rising until she ends with a level voice for Dubai.

5:27

She uses a rising intonation to express the afterthought India. Listen:

5:34

I would like very much to go to Europe, for example UK, Spain or Netherlands, but I also

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want to go to Dubai and India.

5:49

Now listen for whether the voices rise and fall in this part of the test:

5:55

Could you live without your favourite thing?

5:59

No, I cannot live without my mobile phone. I have to bring it everywhere because I will

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feel lost if I don't have it near me.

6:09

Do people have too many possessions?

6:12

Yes, I think they do. They tend to buy a lot of things that they don't really need at that

6:18

time.

6:19

The two questions the interviewer asks are yes/no type questions. Rising intonation patterns

6:27

are used for these questions. Did you notice the pitch of his voice rise at the end of

6:32

the questions? Like this:

6:36

Could you live without your favourite thing?

6:39

Do people have too many possessions?

6:43

In response to the first question, the answer is definite and this certainty is expressed

6:49

with a flat or level tone:

6:52

No, I cannot live without my mobile phone.

6:54

But in response to the second question about whether people have too many possessions,

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she isn't quite sure and responds with:

7:03

Yes, I think they do.

7:05

She uses a fall-rising tone appropriately to indicate that she doesn't really know or

7:11

is unsure.

7:13

Yes, I think they do.

7:14

You are allowed to ask the interviewer what something means in the discussion part or

7:22

Part 3 of the Speaking Test. It's called asking for clarification. Let's say you didn't know

7:29

what was meant by 'valued possessions'. You could say:

7:33

What do you mean by 'valued possessions'?

7:41

This is a 'wh' question, so it needs a falling tone. Listen again:

7:47

What do you mean by 'valued possessions'?

7:53

A different intonation is required for the next way of asking for clarification:

8:02

Do you mean important things that I own?

8:05

It's a yes/no question with a rising tone. Listen:

8:12

Do you mean important things that I own?

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The final example is a statement, so a falling tone is used:

8:25

Sorry, I'm not quire sure what you mean by 'valued possessions'.

8:28

So a falling tone is used for 'wh-' and 'how' questions:

8:37

Who are you looking for?

8:44

What is that you're reading?

8:53

Where is the art gallery?

8:56

Why are you learning English?

9:02

How are you?

9:05

But a rising tone is used for yes/no questions:

9:15

Do you find English difficult?

9:16

Are you listening?

9:25

Is this clear?

9:31

That's all for now. To find more information about the intonation patterns in English,

9:36

visit our Study English website. The address is: australianetwork.com/studyenglish.

9:39

Good luck with your studies. Bye for now.

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