In this second voice based post, I would like to share with you two activities to help learners become more aware of the power of their voice.
I have called these activities: Intonation Gap and Voiceover, respectively.
The first activity, Intonation Gap, aims to encourage learners to notice what their voice sounds like when expressing emotions such as fear, shock, excitement, and so on in their speech.
The activity works like this:
- Divide the class into two groups: A and B.
- First, give the learners some nonsense sounds on the board e.g. piupiu, etc.
- Tell the learners that they are going to ask a question using the nonsense sounds.
- The questions must be short, preferably one-word questions e.g. piupiu? Demo what to do.
- On the board, write up some adjectives such as afraid, surprised, angry, pleased, excited, questioning, etc.
- Using the nonsense sounds, learners practise asking questions expressing the emotions on the adjectives on the board. If you have small mirror, give these to the learners so they can see the facial expressions or mouth articulations. The same procedure is repeated for answers.
- Give each learner the name of a suburb. Alternatively, you could use shop names, street names etc.
- Tell the learners to mingle and ask each other questions to find someone with the same information, trying to communicate the emotions that would go with the adjectives on the board. This time, they should use real words e.g. Marble Arch? And short answers such as Yes and No.
- Learners should respond in the same way, paying close attention to the emotion being expressed before giving an answer.
The second activity is called Voiceover, and it is ideal for a class project. Personally, I have found this activity a great confidence builder as well as a challenger of misguided learner perceptions that a ‘beautiful voice’ is only that of a BBC announcer, for instance.
In fact, it has been a great help to show the learners that their voice can be as good as anyone else’s, given the proper work, of course.
This activity works like this:
- Select a YouTube video with no voice over. Wildlife videos can be a good source of material.
- Learners using iPhones, iPads and Android devices can access the videos on their gadgets.
- Learners watch the video and identify the various themes on it e.g. love, bravery etc.
- Select a song or poem which you think would go well with the video. If you decide to use this activity as a class project, give learners time to find their own poems or songs.
- Learners watch the video and match the song or poem with the video. Encourage the learners to use their creativity as well and write new lines to go with the video.
- Using speech symbols, learners study the poem or song, marking it with speech symbols and practise saying it on their own or mirroring each other’s mouths without making a sound.
- Engage the learners into breathing exercises for relaxation and confidence.
- Organise the learners into groups for them to narrate the videos in real time.
In summary, I hope you will find these activities of useful for helping your learners discover the power of their voice so that they can use it to do the work for their pronunciation development.