Teaching Tips

Improving Intelligibility With Prosodic Models

  • Margareta Larsson (Georgia State University)
  • Heather Boldt (Emory University)


Intonation is "long thought to be a key to effectiveness in spoken language" (Levis & Pickering, 2004). However, producing the expected pattern of intonation presents challenges for students, many of whom find that their production of English suprasegmentals is influenced by their L1, which can lead to obscured meaning. Fortunately, videos of the 3-Minute-Thesis competition (3MT®), held annually at hundreds of universities in over sixty countries, offer high-quality samples of clearly delivered presentations that students can use to model effective intonation. Each video is a short yet first-rate example of English filled with powerful template sentences "in which all levels of the prosodic system are present" (Gilbert, 2014, p. 130). This paper will demonstrate how two experienced practitioners have used 3MT videos to improve the intelligibility of intermediate-level university students. Current best practices covered in this paper include a focus on suprasegmentals, the analysis of authentic language, the importance of target language perception, and the use of gesture to enhance communication. Also, since 3MT presenters are often NNS of English, they serve as valuable "aspirational models" (Murphy, 2014). Though the focus here is primarily on 3MT talks as pronunciation models, our framework can be easily adapted to other models.

How to Cite:

Larsson, M. & Boldt, H., (2018) “Improving Intelligibility With Prosodic Models”, Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching Proceedings 10(1).

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Published on
01 Jan 2019