Reading out loud is such an important tool for increasing awareness of your voice. Are you loud enough? Silent between phrases? Do you use intonation to emphasize important words? In today's post, I show one of my students a simple passage and drive home the essential need to change his voice in certain places to really communicate the message effectively.
Jill: So for example, whoops, it's supposed to point to that second one. Wait one second. Oops. Take that off and let's do that again. Now I want you to see this. It's like there's two continuation marks here. A good conversation is like a bottle of great wine because it's smooth, right? It's three chunks equal one sentence. Can you say those three chunks?
Cassius: A good conversation is like a bottle for great wine because it is smooth.
Jill: Now you have to go back and do it again. You could end the sentence on wine but that's not what's happening here. So you have to change the intonation of great wine so it doesn't sound like the end. Keep it going. A good conversation is like a bubble of great wine because it's smooth.
Cassius: Okay. A good conversation is like a bottle of great wine because it is smooth.
Jill: Right, but you still got to have the pause. It's a little pause, but it's what you do with your voice that indicates that there's a continuation here. I'm not, done.
Cassius: Okay so, a good conversation is like a great...A good conversation is like a bottle of great wine because it is smooth.
Jill: Listen to this: A good conversation. Say that.
Cassius: A good conversation.
Jill: Is like a bottle of great wine.
Cassius: Is like a bottle of great wine.
Jill: Because it's smooth.
Cassius: Because it is smooth.
Jill: Do you hear how I stay up? A good conversation is like a bottle of great wine because it's smooth.
Cassius: Because it is smooth. A good conversation is like a bottle of great wine because it is smooth.
Jill: Do you hear it?
Cassius: I hear, you know when people use these, we like to hear because there is...
Cassius: Yeah. There is like a music. And if people really knows what they are saying, then this...
Cassius: You say, "Oh, so cool."
Jill: And this is what thought chunking is. I let you into my thinking.
Check out these FAQs related to today's post:
Q. Can we think about Thought Chunking as something related to our emotional conditions and our impulses?
A. I believe that the more we care about the things we discuss, the more our emotions come out in our communication. I also think that when we are passionate in our spoken English, it makes it easier to connect with others. So, when we pause and combine that with the correct intonation and key word emphasis, we are emoting...we are expressing ourselves. It is a skill, however, and that means, we can't just let our impulse run wild until we've mastered the skill of vocal variety. That means, varying the length of the words in the thought chunks and changing the lengths of our pauses. And all of that should be connected to emotion and ultimately, we can trust our instincts or impulses.
Q. Does the length of the pause require a certain amount of time to make it correct or good?
A. When starting out, I like to suggest that one equates the length of the pause to written punctuation. So, a comma has less value than a period and a semicolon has more value than a comma. You can practice changing the length of each pause by reading out loud and using the punctuation marks as your guide. It's kind of a cool and easy way to build awareness on the topic of pausing.
Q. How can I apply Thought Chunking in my daily life when speaking English as a second language?
A. You can start by remembering that when you pause (without filler words like um, ah, and like), you are giving your brain time to think. The pause is as much about helping your listeners understand your thinking as it is about you having time to think. And so, even when speaking a foreign language, don't confuse speed and fluency with communication skills. Pausing will show off your abilities and your knowledge. The best way I can think of to get better at using thought chunking in your daily life is to record yourself reading or speaking impromptu and listening back. Does that person you are listening to sound confident? Does their spoken English match the level of knowledge they seem to have? Ask yourself how you perceive that recorded voice and then keep doing this to get better and better at knowing what it feels like to pause, pace, and emphasize well more easily.