Children are excellent mimics. As a teacher you must make an effort to undergo specialized voice and speech training. This would help in a positive attitude towards your own voice, language as well as towards the presentation of the language.
Your voice is your most effective teaching tool and helps in creating an enthusiastic, inspiring and challenging classroom atmosphere besides proving useful for classroom management. These factors are closely related to your emotional state, the dynamics of your interaction and, most important of all, your selfimage. It should be well–modulated, capable of articulating distinctly the sounds of English, producing appropriate intonation patterns and free from any distracting phonetic features.
Attitude towards language is the second important element to be considered. Language is one of the methods of expressing thoughts and feelings. It is also a powerful and significant tool of communication. An understanding of the power of language as well as its forms and functions will confirm your efforts in attaining a high level of proficiency in your own speech. A sensitive response both in aural perception and oral production of the physical quality of English speech sounds along with an awareness of how you express will add depth to your voice.
Do remember that for your pupils, exposure to a stimulating learning environment and opportunities available for talking reciting or singing are both necessary in helping them develop not only their language but also their communications skills. Thus, the presentation of language must be confident and expressive in delivery and related to an interesting idea or experience. Correct pronunciation, proper articulation, clarity of diction, ease and sureness in speech delivery along with fluency, appropriateness of language are crucial for an imaginative and motivating presentation.
An oral presentation of a rhyme involves a creative interpretation of its meaning and atmosphere. Effective speaking or recitation of a nursery rhyme must reflect the following features of delivery.
1. Clarity of speech : Speak clearly, distinctly and with expression. Do not become inaudible at the end of a line or a sentence. Endings should be well- articulated because they carry grammatical information, that is, number, tenses, possessive markers, participles and contracted forms. Also remember not to flatten the vowels or harden the consonants.
2. Rhythm of English : Use a lively, natural rhythm in your speech. Connected speech in English has its own rhythmic patterns. Stressed syllables are said with greater force than the other syllables that occur in between.
3. Variety in speed : Make sure that your speech reflects different speeds to suit different themes, moods as well as parts of a nursery rhyme. However, when presenting a rhyme, remember to speak slowly so that pupils can follow. In the first repetition they should speak slowly even if it sounds exaggerated. Just remember that pupils tend to go too fast or monotonously slow. So your model should reflect a variety of speeds which they can imitate to bring variety and interest in their recitation.
4. Variety in volume : An increase or decrease in the volume of your voice prevents the fading away of pupil’s interest and ensures their motivation in listening and speaking. It also makes them sensitive to the emotional fabric of the language. Moreover, it creates certain playfulness in children and develops their sense of the drama and a sense of audience. When they recite a nursery rhyme or a poem, the volume of their voice should be along an incline of very loud – loud – normal – soft whisper- silent mouthing.
5. Variety in tone : A spatial, temporal and mood atmosphere can be created by varying the tone of your voice. Some parts of a nursery rhyme should be matter of fact, some happy, some energy to reach out to your listeners and fill the words with conceptual and emotional textures.
6. Pausing at appropriate places : Pauses should be of various lengths. Do not hesitate to pause and keep the pupils guessing. Give them time to reflect over what has been said and to speculate about what is to come. Pause before any kind of climax. Dramatic tension heightens anticipation and appreciation. A sensitive use of pauses helps development of a sense of drama in the learner.
7. Reciting a rhyme intelligently : A mechanical rendering becomes boring and monotonous. Avoid exaggerating the metre or pausing automatically at the end of the line regardless of meaning. Mark the text of a rhyme with words to be stressed, appropriate intonation patterns and pauses. Practice it few times before reciting it in class.
8. Placing appropriate emphasis : Decide what are the most important words in terms of meaning and emphasize them. This emphasis invites learner’s attention to significant ideas and emotions so that she can experience them during recitation of the rhyme.
9. Avoid a singsong or too nasal a presentation : The former manner of speaking with its ‘repeated rising and falling rhymes’ may grate on sensibilities and make fun of the metre of English poetry. The latter presentation may sound not only pretentious, affected and artificial but also, more important, prevent the learner from developing an ear for metre and its variations.
10. Using appropriate body languages : Suitable facial expressions, gestures and body movements are self-expressive and help the learner express a range of ideas and emotions himself while miming the teacher.