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IELTS Preparation Series 1, Episode 24: Perfect siesta


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0:14

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

0:20

Today we're going to look at intonation- how we use a rising or falling tone of voice to

0:26

convey meaning - and we'll also have a quick look at how to use commas.

0:31

But first, let's watch a clip about sleep. We'll see a researcher doing some tests on

0:37

a subject, to see just what the benefits are of an afternoon nap.

0:42

Researchers at Flinders University say a short sleep in the mid afternoon could actually

0:48

increase a worker's productivity.

0:51

Each subject performed a series of tests before and after their mid afternoon sleep.

0:57

Some subjective tests of alertness, fatigue, vigour, and also some cognitive performance

1:03

tasks, some which are pencil and paper and some that are done on the computer, and also

1:08

an objective measure of alertness, which is how long it takes someone to fall asleep.

1:12

So if it takes them a long time to fall asleep, that would suggest that they're quite alert,

1:16

and a short time to fall asleep would mean that they're quite sleepy.

1:18

Do you think you were asleep?

1:20

Yes, hard to tell but I think so. I think I did for a bit.

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For how long?

1:29

It felt like probably a couple of minutes, I reckon.

1:33

I want you to do exactly the same thing now. I want you to start here and want you to go

1:39

as quickly and as accurately as you can until I tell you to stop.

1:41

So in that clip we heard a researcher talking to the subject of her tests.

1:48

You'll notice her intonation changed a lot.

1:52

Intonation refers to the changes in pitch in our voice as we speak - whether our voices

1:58

go up, or down.

2:01

Intonation is very important to learn. It has many functions in a language.

2:06

It conveys emotion. We can tell immediately listening to someone how they feel.

2:12

Someone can sound happy, or sound sad.

2:16

Hello, how are you?

2:18

Hello, how are you?

2:22

Intonation also conveys meaning. It let's the listener know whether something is a question

2:28

or a statement, or it can indicate different levels of certainty or uncertainty.

2:35

Hello, are you well?

2:37

Hello, are you well?

2:39

Learning intonation is especially helpful for learning to ask questions, and indicating

2:46

what sort of answer we expect.

2:49

Watch part of the clip again, and listen closely to the intonation as the doctor talks to her

2:54

subject.

2:55

Do you think you were asleep?

2:56

Yes, hard to tell but I think so. I think I did for a bit.

3:02

For how long?

3:03

It felt like a couple of minutes, I reckon.

3:10

The doctor says to the subject, "Do you think you were asleep?"

3:15

Does this have a rising or falling tone?

3:18

Listen again.

3:18

Do you think you were asleep?

3:22

Do you think you were asleep?

3:23

Her voice goes up at the end of the sentence. We call this a rising tone.

3:30

The rising tone is used for yes/no questions - questions that need a yes or no answer.

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Listen now to the second question. Does it have a rising or falling tone?

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For how long?

3:44

It felt like a couple of minutes, I reckon.

3:48

The doctor says, "For how long?"

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This is a question too, but it has a falling tone.

3:56

A falling tone is used with information questions.

4:00

They're questions that need information as an answer, not just a yes or no answer.

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The man answers with a statement: A couple of minutes, I reckon. This takes a falling

4:12

tone.

4:13

In English, statements usually end in a falling tone.

4:18

The falling tone at the end tells the listener that the statement is finished.

4:22

Listen to the intonation used to give instructions.

4:26

I want you to start here and I want you to go as quickly and as accurately as you can

4:30

until I tell you to stop.

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Did you hear the falling tone at the end?

4:36

She said, "until I tell you to stop".

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This tells the listener that this is the end of the instruction.

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So, let's look at when to use rising and falling tones again.

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A rising tone is used at the end of yes/no questions, and a falling tone at the end of

4:55

information questions.

4:58

Falling intonation is also used with statements.

5:01

These are very general rules, but they can help you to work out what you, as a listener,

5:07

are expected to say, and can help you, as a speaker, to convey your meaning.

5:13

Now, let's look at one last example of intonation.

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Listen to what happens when we have a list in a sentence. Here's a very complicated list.

5:23

Some subjective tests of alertness, fatigue, vigour, and also some cognitive performance

5:29

tasks, some which are pencil and paper and some that are done on the computer, and also

5:33

an objective measure of alertness, which is how long it takes someone to fall asleep.

5:37

So she uses a variety of intonation. She uses rising and falling tones, and a tone that's

5:46

neither rising nor falling - just a flat tone, for the items in the list.

5:52

This tells the listener that she hasn't finished her list of tests.

5:56

And then, for the very last item in the list, how long it takes someone to fall asleep,

6:03

she uses falling intonation. This is how we know the list is finished.

6:09

We use generally use falling intonation for the last item in a list.

6:14

So you can see there are some rules for intonation, but of course it varies according to the situation,

6:20

and our attitudes to the topic.

6:22

OK, so when we're talking, we use intonation, pauses and body language to convey meaning.

6:33

But what about when we're writing?

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Well, we need to use punctuation.

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Let's look at one of the most common but difficult punctuation items - the comma.

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Commas are used to help readers understand the exact meaning of a sentence. They're like

6:49

pauses in speech.

6:52

A comma in the wrong place can give the wrong meaning to a sentence.

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For example, look at these two sentences:

6:58

Stop, Jane!

7:03

Stop Jane.

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In the first sentence, the comma shows where there is a pause in speech, "Stop, Jane",

7:12

and this tells us that the speaker wants Jane to stop.

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In the second sentence, there is no pause and no comma - "Stop Jane."

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With no pause, we know that the speaker is telling someone else to stop Jane.

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Let's look at some rules about using the comma.

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First, commas are used to separate items in a list.

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Look at the way commas are used here

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Some subjective tests of alertness, fatigue, vigour,

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and also some cognitive performance tasks.

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OK, so notice that when we write down her speech, we put commas where she uses pauses

7:52

and we use intonation to separate the items in a list.

7:57

We write alertness, fatigue, vigour. We read this as alertness fatigue vigour.

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Adding a comma between items in a list tells us clearly how many different items there

8:14

are.

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A second use of commas is to separate clauses in a sentence.

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We use a comma to separate dependent and independent clauses, but only when the dependent clause

8:26

is first in the sentence.

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This sounds complicated, but it's not really. Here's an example of a dependent clause:

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because he was very tired

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followed by an independent clause:

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he went to bed.

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Notice that we use a comma.

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Because he was very tired, he went to bed.

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But let's swap the clauses around:

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He went to bed because he was very tired.

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In sentences like this, with the independent clauses first, we don't need a comma.

9:00

Listen to the different way they're read out, and you can hear why:

9:05

Because he was very tired, he went to bed. Notice the pause.

9:12

He went to bed because he was very tired. There's no pause.

9:17

So sometimes when you're writing, it helps to think that if there's a pause, you might

9:22

need a comma.

9:23

And that's where we're going to pause today. Hope you enjoyed Study English, I'll see you

9:28

next time. Bye bye.

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