Intonation, long thought to be a key to effectiveness in spoken language, is more and more commonly addressed in English language teaching through the use of speech visualization technology. While the use of visualization technology is a crucial advance in the teaching of intonation, such teaching can be further enhanced by connecting technology to an understanding of how intonation functions in discourse. This study examines the intonation of four readers reading out-of-context sentences and then the same sentences as part of coherent discourse-level texts. Two discourse-level uses of intonation, the use of intonational paragraph markers (paratones) and the distribution of tonal patterns, are discussed and implications for teaching intonation are addressed. 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.