Intonation is the way the pitch of a speaker's voice goes up or down as they speak. Intonation can be rising, falling or flat and is used to communicate how a speaker feels.
An English language speaker uses a rising intonation in spoken discourse to show that they haven't finished a sentence. The intonation commonly drops at the end of a sentence to show they have finished.
In the classroom
Intonation is fundamental in spoken communication but whilst many languages share this system, learners often find patterns such as falling intonation difficult. Drilling is useful to practise this area, as learners sometimes feel uncomfortable with what they see as exaggerated intonation changes.