Meaning and intonation

Meaning and intonation

Meaning and intonationIn the speaking test, you are being assessed on four different criteria, one of which is pronunciation. Pronunciation refers to how clear you are when you speak, and can be broken into different sub-categories:

  • enunciation (how clearly do you say each word; not mumbling or slurring)
  • intonation (is the sound of your voice suitable for what you are saying)

This post will focus on the second aspect of pronunciation – intonation. Here are some examples of intonation in specific circumstances.

Your friend has just invited you to a party they are having, and you are accepting.

Your intonation should be positive, with a rising sound a lot of movement and stress on some words.

Your friend has just invited you to a party they are having, but you can’t come.

Your intonation should have a falling sound, with less movement.

In the speaking test, the examiner will ask you questions about things you like or enjoy, as well as things you dislike or find annoying. You have an opportunity here to show your intonation as your tone of voice should change depending on the context of what you are saying.

Here are some example questions that you could expect in the IELTS speaking test. Practice by responding using a suitable intonation.

  1. Is there anything you dislike about using mobile phones?
  2. Tell me about a country you would like to visit.
  3. What’s your favourite part of the day?
  4. How do you feel about people being impolite?

Intonation in the listening test

Intonation is very important in the speaking test, but can also be a useful skill for the listening test. Practice your understanding of intonation by matching the correct statement to the audio recording. Type ‘A’ or ‘B’ into the box below each stratement.

Click the play button below to begin.

Question 1:

  1. Lyn likes the shirt
  2. Lyn does not like the shirt

Question 2:

  1. The speaker should have booked
  2. There is plenty of seating available


Question 3:

  1. Steve agrees with the first speaker
  2. Steven doesn’t agree with the first speaker


Question 4:

  1. He is happy with their travel arrangements
  2. He is not happy with their travel arrangements


Question 5:

  1. He feels the advertising was misleading
  2. He is satisfied with the product


Question 6:

  1. The speaker is annoyed
  2. The speaker was misheard the first time she spoke


Question 7:

  1. The food was good
  2. The food wasn’t very good


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