Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Slow Children at Play"

One of the things I try to impress upon my adult ESL students is how intonation and all it's components are just as critical as grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, etc. Knowing what words to stress in a sentence and when to pause are important in making oneself understood.

I was reminded about the importance of pauses when I saw a sign today that said, "Slow Children at Play." If you've paid attention to this typical sign over the years, you may have noticed that the words have been spaced differently than they used to be. Now, the "slow" is separated from "children" so that it's not read as "slow children" (possibly meaning children with learning difficulties). With written English, it's easier to show the pauses where they need to be. With spoken English, we need to use the pause to make ourselves understood correctly.


1 comment:

DIEGO said...

I absolutely agree with you, its very important to make students aware of intonation. Regarding the sign I think that it should be written like this: "Slow, children at play" or "Slow! children at play" if we are talking about pauses in written language. In my country those signs are written in the floor of the highways and are for drivers, in this case they write first "slow" and then in another "line" they write "children at play" so the words slow and children are not in the same line and to avoid ambiguation.