KCSE REVISION: ENGLISH PAPER 101/1_Oral and Functional Skills

"Oral skills cover pronunciation and oral narrative performance skills in English. Tested in paper 101/1."


This refers to the way a word is pronounced and articulated. To achieve competence in pronunciation, learners must comprehend the following: intonation, sounds, word and sentence stress, syllables, homophones, and silent letters.

The English Sounds.

It is divided into vowels and consonant sounds as shown in a few examples below:

Vowels: /i:/- meet, see, spree       Consonants: /b/-Rubber, boy, bean.

      /i/- Mary ,army,chucky                /d/- Drag, die, death.

     /e/- ten, tender, envy. /k/- Can, killer, college.

/u/- pull, put, push /ʧ/- Chores, change, cheat.

There are more examples of the vowels and consonant sounds studied in English. More consonant sounds include:/c/, /f/, /g/, /h/, /r/,/l/,/j/,/w/,/v/,/s/,/t/, etc.

Other vowel sounds include: /u:/, /I/, /ʌ/ etc.

 Silent Letters.

Silent letters appear in the spelling of particular words but we do not pronounce the words during articulation. Below are a few examples of words with silent letters:

 Musically, debt,acquire,edge,name,column,buffet,wrap,guess etc.

In the identification of silent letters in words, learners must be able to pronounce the words correctly. Students are advised to, therefore, do a lot of practice in reading to sharpen their pronunciation skills.


These are words pronounced the same way but have different spellings. Like in the case of silent letters, a learner must achieve competency in pronunciation to deduce how different the words are pronounced. Below are examples of homophones:

Ad-add, ail-ale, blue-blew, dual-duel, all-owl, farther-father, arc-ark, aural-oral, hay-hey, grate-great, clew-clue, lie-lye, buoy-boy, course-coarse, climb-clime, satire-satyr,berry-bury, borne-born, etc.


Intonation is very common in speech. This is the rise or fall of the voice in communication to achieve given objectives.

We use arrows to indicate the intonation, whether Rising intonation(↗) or Falling intonation(↘) 

Falling Intonation.

Happens when we lower our voice at the end of a sentence. It usually happens in the following situations:

*Statements, for example, It is nice working with ↘ you.

*WH questions, for example: Where do you ↘ live?

*Commands, for example: Get out ↘ now!

*Exclamatory sentences, for example, What a wonderful ↘ present!

Falling intonation is also used at the end of a speech, song, narrative, and even story.

Rising Intonation.

We raise our voice when speaking. Used in the following situations:

  *General questions, for example: Have you seen ↗ him?

  *Alternative questions, for example: Do you speak ↗ Kiswahili or ↘ French?

  *Before tags in the question tags, for example, She is ↘ coming, ↗ isn’t she?

  *Enumerations, for example, I bought ↗ bread, ↗ sugar, ↗oranges, and ↗ eggs. 

Stress in words and sentences.

Not all words in a sentence receive equal emphasis, the same way not all the syllables in a word will be emphasized. Stress, therefore, refers to the emphasis given to a syllable in a word or given words in sentences.

Word stress.

To identify the emphasized syllable, a stress marker is used. One needs to underline the stressed syllable. The following are word stress rules:

  *Stress the root of a word if it has a prefix or suffix; for example disadvantage, unfit, lovable, achievable 

  *If a word has a long vowel, stress falls on the syllable with the long vowel for example; achieve, deceive.

  *When a word is used as a noun or adjective, stress the first syllable but if the word is used as a verb, stress the second syllable, for example; 

     Reject as a noun, Reject as a verb. Produce as a noun and produce as a verb.

     Convict as a noun, Convict as a verb.

Sentence Stress.

This is to emphasize a given word in a sentence. 

Sentences are comprised of content words which are the main words carrying the message and structure words that are used to make a sentence grammatically correct. 

Content words receive emphasis or stress in a sentence since they are the words carrying meaning. 

For example: Buy food feeling hungry, the sentence is grammatically wrong but has a noun, verb, adverb, and adjective.

  Please buy me food, I am hungry. The sentence is grammatically correct for words like please, am, and I are used to making the sentence sensible.

Take a look at this sentence:

  Kabesa won the London Marathon. The sentence would mean the following depending on the stressed word.

  -When we stress Kabesa, the sentence would mean that only Kabesa and no one else won.

  -When stress falls on London, it means Kabesa only won the London Marathon and not any other marathon.

  – If we stress marathon, it would mean Kabesa won only the marathon and no other race. 

Impromptu Speeches.

These are speeches when one is ambushed. They are delivered without any preparations by the speaker. They include votes of thanks, introducing guests, oral apologies and directions, condolences, and showing appreciation on given people.

Vote of thanks.

One would:

  -Recognize those present in order of their hierarchy in their opening statement.

  -Appreciate the main speaker by identifying their key points.

  -Appreciate the event sponsors and organizers.

  -Appreciate the audience for listening.

Oral Directions.

You should:

  -Give the estimated distance and time.

  -Use landmarks as guides.

  -Use direction vocabularies such as turn left, right and compass points e.g north

Oral Apologies.

You would:

  -Give the reason for apologizing in your initial remark.

  -State the damage caused by the mistake.

  -Claim responsibility and agree to meet the cost of damage.

  -Give assurance not to repeat.

Introducing a Guest.

One should:

  -Recognize the people present in order of their hierarchy.

  -Explain the speaker’s qualifications.

  -Familiarize the audience with the importance of the speech.

  -Welcome the guest on stage with a round of applause.

Condolence Messages.

One would:

  -Express their sorrow in the opening remark.

  -Give positive traits of the deceased.

  -Give help e.g assist in transportation.

  -Give hope and encouragement to the bereaved.


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