Author: British Council | Published on 1 February 2023


Good pronunciation includes being able to communicate emotion with your voice. 

When speaking, learners can express different feelings using stress and intonation. This short, fun activity can be used within any grammar or vocabulary practice.


[play audio] 

Listen to Braima talking about work. How does he feel in each example?

  1. I have so much work at the moment. [speaker should sound very tired]
  2. I have so much work at the moment. [speaker should sound really happy about this.]
  3. I have so much work at the moment. [speaker should sound angry / complaining]

Notice how Braima uses varied intonation in example 2 to show that he is happy or excited. His intonation is quite flat in examples 1 and 3, which shows that he isn’t happy.


Create sentences using words which you have studied recently. For example: 

  1. “It’s raining.”
  2. “I watched TV with my brother.”
  3. “We’re going to visit my grandmother again.”


Tell learners you will say the sentence in different ways. Ask: “How do I feel?”

Say the sentence two or three times to show you are, e.g. happy / unhappy / surprised that it’s raining. 


Put learners in groups. Give them a sentence or ask them to create their own. (They could change your example, e.g. “It’s sunny” or “We’re going to visit the dentist again.”)

Learners should take it in turns to show as many different feelings as they can using varied stress and intonation. The other learners guess how they feel.


Flat: Level and smooth. 

Intonation: 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.

Stress: Emphasis given to certain syllables in words. In English, stress is produced with a longer, louder and higher pitched sound than unstressed sounds.

Varied: Different, changing between different types.