Introduction to
Freshman Aural-Oral Training Fall 2003
Audio-Visual Building 201 Wednesday 8:10am-10:00am
Instructor: Karen Steffen Chung

     This required course meets two hours a week, and only earns you one credit. But it is one that is well worth investing time and effort in.

     The main goals of this course are (1) to teach you how to listen betterthis will be done mainly by listening to recorded passages and answering questions about them, doing transcriptions, or completing cloze exercises; and (2) to fix your pronunciation.

     Listening and pronunciation are probably the two weakest links in English education in Taiwan. Rather than complain about what you didn't get in the past, we encourage you to focus on the here and now – there's still time to fix things. But you must be committed. The things you learn in this class are not assignments to be completed to earn a grade and then forgotten. They will require behavior modification on your part. Anybody knows how hard a habit is to break, and poor pronunciation habits present an especially stubborn case. You will need to tire yourself out for a few weeks or months relearning the way you speak English. It will be well worth it – you'll sound absolutely wonderful every time you speak English for the rest of your life! You can sound like a native – but you have to really want it, bad!

     One very important reason to fix your pronunciation is to show respect for other people. When you speak with a heavy foreign accent, other people have to strain to understand you, and that makes them very tired. When you speak clearly and correctly, you make life easier and happier for everybody you come into contact with.

Course Materials and Activities:

     Text: You are a very lucky group – you get your textbook for free this year, because we will be field testing a new edition of our usual textbook for the author. We will as a class therefore need to give our feedback on it to help the author and publisher refine the book before it is formally published. You must also promise not to copy or share the book with others, and you must return it if you withdraw from the class. The text is: Gilbert, Judy. 2003. Clear Speech: Pronunciation and Listening Comprehension in North American English. 3rd edition, pilot. New York: Cambridge University Press.

     Handouts will be usually be posted on this site and will not be distributed in class.
     Click here for the Poetry and Prose for Memorization and Reading Aloud handout for Fall 2003.
     Find more poems online yourself.
     Click here for the About Poetry: English Prosody Plus Selected Literary Terms
handout. (Refer to this for definitions of terms like iambic, doggerel, and synaesthesia.)

     Each student is required to submit a blank 90-minute cassette to copy listening exercises onto. Label the tape with a sticker with your English and Chinese name, your student number, and the word 'Lab'; also write this information on the spine of the tape case insert before handing it in.

     Occasional quizzes will be given, usually dictations or ones requiring you to distinguish between correct and incorrect pronunciations.

     Pronunciation journal: You are required to keep a running record of specific sounds and other areas you need to work on in your pronunciation in a small notebook, based on feedback you receive in class. You are expected to have your journal open and ready throughout each class, without being reminded. You will be asked to hand in a summary of your pronunciation journal notes at the end of the semester.

      Dictionaries: Please use an online English dictionary with audio files (e.g. the Merriam-Webster and/or the American Heritage dictionary) to check the pronunciation of any word you encounter that you aren't sure how to pronounce. You have no excuse for getting a pronunciation in a poem or written exercise wrong in class!
      The following paper dictionary is highly recommended: Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English: The Living Dictionary. 2003. Essex: Pearson Education. Available at Crane's in hardcover or paperback. It comes with a CD-ROM (requiring 500MB of disk space) which offers definitions, audio files of pronunciation of the entry in British English (no dictionary with British English sound files is available online so far, as far as we know) and U.S. English, plus exercises and many other excellent features. It gives word pronunciations in IPA symbols, which are very close to the KK system you are familiar with.
      This dictionary doesn't include very difficult or technical words; you can get these from the online dictionaries, or get a desktop dictionary, such as: Webster's New World College Dictionary. 4th edition. Webster's New World. 1,716 pages. The American Heritage Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster are also good choices. US English-English dictionaries usually use a strange (for you) set of pronunciation symbols based on English spelling habits, which may be difficult to get used to at first. You will find a pronunciation key on each page of the dictionary to help you. If in doubt, use an online dictionary with audio files and listen to the correct pronunciation!
      A pocket edition of one of these English-English dictionaries is handy for class use; most English-Chinese dictionaries published in Taiwan are full of errors, especially in the KK pronunciations of words. Electronic dictionaries are handy and very popular among students these days, but they are also not always as reliable, since they are mostly produced domestically.
     The best English thesaurus, in my opinoin, is: The Synonym Finder. 1987. Emmaus: Rodale. 1361pp. Paper. It might be available at Cave's 敦煌.
      In my view, the very best Chinese-English dictionary is one compiled on the Chinese mainland: 漢英辭典. 修訂版. 1995. 北京:外語教學與研究出版社. 主編:危東亞
. It's in simplified characters, and some entries are specific to the mainland, while some Taiwan usages are omitted, but these should not create major problems for you. It may be available locally if you ask around; you can get it in Hong Kong, or you may be able to order it online. (Try this link or the 大路書屋 Wanlung St., Lane 29, No. 2, 1st floor 萬隆街 29巷 2號 1樓 Near the Wanlung 萬隆 MRT stop (02) 8931-6937~9
      See homepage and the Language and Linguistics page for links to more online dictionaries, including Chinese ones.

     First hour: Each class will begin with individual poem recitation to correct pronunciation. Then a new poem will be presented for recitation the next week. You are required to look up biographical information on the poet for the following week to share in class when the poem is taught. Next, the listening comprehension exercise from the previous week will be marked in class, and a new exercise assigned. If there is time, we will do work in Clear Speech.

     Second hour: We will continue work in Clear Speech, and sometimes do oral presentations, not necessarily in this order. Oral presentations may include such activities as summarizing a short story orally to the class, or performing a dialogue from a TV show.

     Grades for the course will be based on: attendance (more than three unexcused absences or five unexcused tardinesses are grounds for receiving a failing semester grade), class performance and participation, listening assignments, quizzes, progress made, attitude, and a final exam.

     There will be 14 classes this semester.

     Listening assignment for week of September 24-October 1: A Moment of Science IV: (1) The Science of Suicide and (2) The Sexiest Frog in Borneo. (There are also A Moment of Science III II I from previous years, if you'd like extra practice. These are not required this semester.)

     Listening assignment for week of October 1-8:
A Moment of Science V: (3) Ancient Performance Enhancers; (4) Rocket Roach; (5) Here, Boy.

     Listening assignment for week of October 8-15: Statement by Richard Jewell after being cleared of responsibility in the July 27, 1996 bombing at Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta, Georgia

     Listening assignment for week of October 15-22:
Lives of the Writers: Langston Hughes

Listening assignment for week of October 22-29: Lives of the Writers: Charles Dickens

     Listening assignment for week of October 29-November 5: Cooking video: Rolled omelet
     Here are some links to ghost story sites if you'd like some scary stories to tell for Hallowe'en!

     Listening assignment for week of November 5-12: Dust in the Wind

     Listening assignment for week of November 12-19: The Infinite Mind: Cheating

     Listening assignment for week of November 19-26: Dr. Laura (4): Elizabeth and Julie

     Listening assignment for week of November 26-December 3: Dr. Laura (5): Theresa and Dave

     Listening assignment for week of December 3-10: Popular song: Behind the Wall by Tracy Chapman

     Listening assignment for week of December 10-17:
The Voices of Innovation: Artificial hand and Zipper

     Listening assignment for week of December 17-24: Best friend donates kidney

     Listening assignment for week of December 24-31: MPR: Listening House

     Listening assignment for week of December 31-January 7:
Affair on 8th Avenue by Gordon Lightfoot (on listening tape).

     Winter break assignment: (1) Find and hand in an English poem suitable for use in this class; be sure to include the title of the poem; the name, nationality, and years of birth and death of the poet; and the source of the poem (where you found it); (2) Listen to a total of two hours of spoken English audio (not video) recordings (cassette, CD, or Internet), and write a short summary on each piece. Both of these are to be handed in first day of class, Spring semester.

Contents of tape:
1. "Egotism"
2. Poems for memorization and reading aloud

Listening assignments:
3. Popular song: "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas
4. Lives of the Writers: Langston Hughes
5. Lives of the Writers: Charles Dickens
6. Popular song: "Behind the Wall" by Tracy Chapman
7. "Word" by Whoopi Goldberg, from Audiobook
8. Ask Dr. Laura: (1) Elizabeth; (2) Julie
9. Ask Dr. Laura: (3) Theresa; (4) Dave
10. Popular song: "Affair on 8th Avenue" by Gordon Lightfoot
11. Selection from: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller