“I teach writing courses and first of all, I teach my students what prosody is.” – Theodore Sturgeon.
Prosody refers to the wide range of expressions used when reading the prose or poetry aloud. The stress pattern, pause, rhythm, variation in pitch, loudness, clarity of speech, the speed of reading, emphasis on particular words or phrase and more define prosody in reading. It is a key component in determining the linguistic ability in kids.
Teachers and parents must pay attention to improve the prosody in reading to help children comprehend prose and poetry in a better manner. The right prosody brings life to the speech and makes it interesting to hear and understand the emotions.
What Does ‘Prosody’ Mean in Reading?
“All poetry, as discriminated from the various paradigms of prosody, is prayer.” – Samuel Beckett
Imagine reading a beautiful story in monotone and reaching an emotional part, the impact of the story would be lost without expressions and voice modulations. Good prosody adds a musical edge to the story narration. It helps understand the context of the author better and deeper. Prosody makes reading an enjoyable experience. It helps in the visualization of the narration.
Importance of Reading with Prosody for Children
Children may know how to read aloud. However, they must understand what is being communicated through words. Here’s where prosody training plays an important part. Expressions make all the difference. It adds meaning and melody to the poetry, expressions, and emotions to the prose. It improves the speaker’s ability to convey their story and the listener’s ability to understand the message.
A pause after a comma, longer pause after sentence, raise in pitch at ‘yes’ and ‘no’ question, lower pitch for declarative sentence, provides cue and building the story in the right direction. The length of the pause, the emphasis on word, emotion and expression, the pronunciation, phonics, fluency will improve with practice.
It will eventually make them avid readers and proficient storytellers. This will also help in excelling in the overall academic performance. It will take time to pick up the prosody skill. Start training the kids at an early age and watch your young ones read with the proficiency of an adult.
Various Elements Of Prosody
There are various elements of good prosody that need to be taken into account while training the kids. Expression, Intonation and flow can be achieved with:
- Voice Modulation – A whisper or a stern pitch can change the meaning of the sentence. It can add drama and mystery to the story.
- Emphasis on the right word – Stress on the right word for making a dramatic effect while reading the passage.
- Sound Length – In phonetics, short and long vowels and consonants can impact the comprehension of the passage.
- Pause – A right length of pause at punctuation can evoke the right amount of emotions to drive the story in a particular direction.
- Vocal timbre – The dark overtone, mellow note, shrill sound, can express various emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, concern, excitement and more. It is like adding visuals and colors to the speech.
Speed of reading, fluency of speech, accuracy, comprehension, pronunciation and other factors evaluate the progress and performance of prosody in reading fluency.
Impact of Reading With Prosody- Poem and Prose
Prosody can provide insight into the reading ability of the child. Reading out aloud can demonstrate young readers the ability to:
- Accuracy with words
- Build fluency in the language
- Speed of reading
- Understanding of grammar and punctuation
- Recognizing the relationship in sentences
- Understand the purpose of the writer
and more. This collectively leads to improving their ability to comprehend the prose and poem efficiently.
How to Improve Prosody while Reading in Kids?
Various activities can actively improve prosody while reading in kids. Teachers can incorporate these techniques into the learning plan of kids.
- Repeated reading of the same passages aloud in the presence of an audience can help build prosody. In the classroom, the listeners are their classmates, peers, and teachers. This will develop public speaking skills and confidence in them.
- Have a story reading or a poetry recitation session. Include songs, poems, scripts, speeches, monologues, soliloquies and more to make it interesting. Stimulate it further by adding multiple characters with dialogues, role-plays and skit reading.
- Listen to the recordings of famous speeches like Martin Luther Jr’s ‘I have a dream’. Help kids notice the elements of prosody to convey the intended meaning. Recreate the magic in the classroom to generate an impact on listeners.
- Practice – Practice – Practice and then practice some more. The more you rehearse, the more is the accuracy in creating the desired effect.
- Have kids listen to popular storybooks on tape and understand the emotions passed with the help of speech.
- Record the reading sessions of kids and have them listen to their voices. This will encourage them to correct their own mistakes. With each recording, the skills will improve.
- Play a game of copycat. Begin by reading to them and let them copy your expressions and emotions. The kids will pick up the skills quickly.
Innovate and replicate a similar approach in your classroom to improve on various aspects of prosody. These interactive methods add joy to the learning process and make studies interesting. Adding props and costumes will take the learning curve to a different level.
Train your kids at perfecting the prosody in early age and see them develop proficiency in the language.
Also Read: Reading Games and Activities for Kids