Level: minimum beginner readers, no maximum

Skills:

This activity exercises proper intonation and stress, and encourages a more playful and creative approach to practicing English pronunciation.

Directions:

  1. Find a partner with whom you are comfortable being silly.
  2. Select a passage from a documentary narrative, or some copy from a text advertisement. Take time to mark proper accents over all stressed syllables for unfamiliar words. Refer to the diacritical marks for the word in your dictionary, or ask your instructor for help.
  3. Take turns with your partner reading the passage in various ways. First, read in a monotone, with as boring a voice as possible. Then, read with as much exaggerated enthusiasm and interest as possible.
  4. For variety and creativity, take turns reading the passage with stereotyped personalities, weird sound effects, etc. The following are some suggested personas:
    • A small child
    • An ancient man or woman
    • Someone with nausea or a stomachache
    • An obnoxious salesperson
    • A person with a foreign accent, real or made-up
    • A drunk
    • A snob
    • A cartoon character
    • Your teacher
    • Someone uniquely weird
  5. Rehearse your best voices with your partner for future recording.