Speech exercises are short oral activities that we keep doing in most lessons through the years albeit for various different reasons. At the beginning of our course they help to practise pronunciation of the many speech sounds (vowels, consonants, diphthongs). Later they help children to articulate clearly, to put a little energy into their speech. They help pupils to get their hold on the rhythm of a phrase or sentence.
Concentrating on the rhythm or intonation, a stress pattern of an expression helps pupils memorize it. ... If we try clapping the rhythm of a song, the words miraculously come to mind; if we hum the tune, the words come as well.
Who has not experienced looking for a word or expression and feeling we have it ‘on the tip of our tongue’? Usually the words present themselves immediately afterwards, when we only think of what we want to say. To enable our students to be able to do this, it is worth investing time and trouble to get them to pronounce accurately and articulate clearly, getting the intonation and the stress patterns right. This will later be a solid basis for the ability to read and write meaningfully.
To get back to the speech exercises: Here are some aspects of speaking we hope to train through doing speech exercises:
strength of voice
intonation and pitch
breathing in accordance with the meaning
being relaxed while speaking
The whole class contradicting the teacher (for strength of voice)
You tell them things you did. If they believe you they say nothing, if they think you are ‘pulling their leg’ they say No, you didn’t.
I found a 50 Euro note in the waste-paper basket over there. (No, you didn’t!)
I came to school on a motor-bike this morning. (No, you didn’t!)
I had cornflakes for breakfast. (Silence or Mm-hm, maybe you did)
I talked to Roger Federer yesterday. (No, you didn’t).
Exercises for pronunciation
Apart from learning correct pronunciation at the beginning, we may have to concentrate on pronunciation again at a later stage. At around the age of 10, when most children lose their unselfconsciousness, even children who had already acquired a good pronunciation will sometimes begin to speak with a first-language accent. Children who begin learning at this age may already be having difficulties to hear, let alone imitate foreign speech sounds accurately.
Speech exercises can be fun and will certainly benefit all young learners.
Who can say: ‘The witch which bewitched this switch is Swiss ?’
Tip: Listen to the class reciting rather than being the loudest ‘reciter’ yourself. Here are examples of exercises for a number of vowels or consonants: