Inflection/Intonation Role-plays

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Talk about fun! This is a really great activity that will get students energized and interested in class. I was so happy to find this activity online and add my own special acting flair to it. In Korea, I found that there were a many students that spoke in a very robotic and monotone voice. This activity will both get those guys and girls to use inflection and intonation a little more and there is a nice discussion after students act out their parts.

I will definitely be doing a podcast for this page very soon as I feel that this class needs it. I normally write the different parts in very big print either on cards or you can blow up the text and print them off and cut out the parts for students to look at. Ideally, you will be able to just control the class and you can have every student paired up with another student. If not, pick the odd student out and be their partner and go first so that you can model for the rest of the class.

I try to pick a student who is a fast learner for my partner if I have to because I normally have to go around to coach and help students understand their parts kid they can’t quite grasp the meaning. It is essential to not have students let anyone else know their parts for the discussion part after. Here is the class, I will explain a little more after the sheet.

Inflection/Intonation Role-plays

1) In English you have to give stress to certain words to deliver certain meanings: Try to model “Oh” and give emphasis to disappointment, anger, surprise, grasp idea etc… (Have students try to show these emotions only using the word “Oh.”)

2) Watch how the following sentence has the meaning change after changing which word you stress.

You want me to give you money. (Model for students by stressing different parts of the sentence and see if they can tell you how the meaning has changed.)

3) Memorize the following sentence and adjust the inflection and intonation in order to convey the part you have been given. (Read with students a couple of times with just a normal tone.)

A: Hi, how are you?

B: Fine, thank you. And you?

A: Just great. What have you been doing lately?

B: Oh, not much. But I’ve been keeping busy.

A: Well…it’s been good to see you.

B: Yes, it has…well, bye!

A: Goodbye.

4) I’m going to give each pair a situation, it’s SECRET and you mustn’t show it to anyone else, you will act it out and others will have to GUESS who you are by your inflection, gestures and body language. (Don’t tell what your part is until all partners have had a chance to guess!)

The Situations

(I suggest writing the situations on index cards, very simply: “You are two people who have just met but don’t really know each other, and feel obliged to make small talk on an elevator”….)

Some sample situations (be creative!):

1) two athletes (boxers?) who will compete in a match tomorrow

2) a sick person in hospital and friend who visits

3) two old people who are all but deaf

4) a robot and his designer

5) a divorced couple

6) a couple whose love is doomed by marriage promised to others

7) a teacher and a student suffering from infatuation

8) two people who are angry at each other

9) a landlady and her overdue tenant

10) a teacher who has given a student a bad grade, they meet years later

11) two people who have met before, but can’t remember where

12) two spies who are meeting late at night

13) two old friends who run into each other on a railway platform

14) a detective and a criminal

15) Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker

16) Batman and the Joker

After Handing Out the Situations

You may have to go around to groups and explain any new words. Infatuation was one word that I finally wound up looking up in Korean and just showing the meaning to students so they could quickly understand. If I had a couple that was totally lost I would sometimes take them outside the class to explain the situation away from the other students.

TEFL Inflection Activity ESL Class

No Reading!

It’s very important to have students practice the conversation until they have memorized it. Reading it tends to lead to a monotone delivery so I would have them practice until they got it down without needing to read. Also, you may want to preview and give pointers on what kind of emotion they should be showing in the situation they were given.

All Groups Should Have a Chance to Guess

You might have to proactively enforce this and let students know not to give away their part until all the groups have had a chance to guess the situation. Ask them questions like: Why do you think that? What emotion do you think they are showing?

The interesting thing is that in the policeman and criminal situation the students often guessed that the criminal was a police officer and the police officer was a criminal. It showed me something about the societal prejudice towards the police.

This is Meant to Be Fun

Laugh and learn! That is my motto and this is one class where hopefully you can get some discussion on emotions and the feelings about certain situations. My list is by no means complete. You might want to add in some of your own unique understanding of famous people in the country you are in. Perhaps even have President Donald Trump and the president of whatever country you are in meeting to discuss trade.

Now go try this in class and remember that Teaching English is Fun!

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