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Not only individual sounds, but the way words connect, intonation and rhythm are all important in coming across as an effective, natural-sounding speaker of English. It can be helpful for students to have practice in stretching speech, in playing with it, in exaggerating to help them overcome shyness. You can help in this regard by playing with the language yourself, by making fun of it, by putting on different accents, etc., and by encouraging your students to do the same.
Having a small piece of text which students are familiar with gives them a secure footing from which to jump in different directions.
Activities you can try
Begin with any text that you have already been looking at for some other purpose. Choose any of the following ways to play with it:
- Students read the text out in turns, each person reading just one or two words at a time. The idea is to try to get the passage to flow smoothly and with proper intonation.
- One person reads aloud, and another acts as conductor. Arms up means loud, arms down means soft. Arms left means slow, arms right means fast. Or, the conductor can conduct a choral reading of the passage.
- You mime an action from the text. Students respond with the corresponding sentence.
- Students sing the text to a well-known melody. They have to try to fit the words to the music.
- You write on the board or clap out the stress pattern of a phrase from the text. Students try to read out the appropriate phrase, or any phrase which fits. For example: Ba BA ba-da BA = 'a phrase from the text'.
- Students compete to see who can read a passage the fastest, without any mistakes.
- For comprehension, one students reads, another translates into the mother tongue.
- Students read aloud according to an adverb, which other students can suggest, such as nervously, sadly, angrily, etc.