Questioning the teaching of “question intonation”: the case of classroom elicitations

Cantarutti, Marina Noelia (2017). Questioning the teaching of “question intonation”: the case of classroom elicitations. In: Proceedings of the Phonetics Teaching and Learning Conference, Chandler House, London, pp. 21–25.



In pronunciation textbooks for EFL teachers and learners, “question intonation” has been most widely associated to syntactic structure and attitudinal meanings. Even though these descriptions may refer to frequent realisations in real life, they appear to assume that all interrogatively-formatted utterances fulfil only informational functions and work similarly across different contexts. This reflective paper will make a critical review of the descriptions of “question intonation” in a selection of theoretical and practical materials employed in the Phonetics modules in three graduate Teacher Training programmes to contrast them to the findings of a short conversation/discourse-analytic study on teacher questions in classroom discourse, as representative of one of the speech genres EFL teachers are trained in. Finally, a case will be made for the need for further corpusbased descriptions of intonation that focus on social action in situated contexts of language use.

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