Monday, November 14, 2005

Lesson Plans

These are lesson plans for the first week of an ASE 1 class. As I’ve never taught ASE 1 and am not familiar with its exact syllabus and requirement, the actual plans may be somewhat different. This is a starting point.

Students: graduate students at the University of Florida; advanced English speakers with a variety of L1s. They will all have scored similarly on the SPEAK test, but may have diverse levels of proficiency. An important part of the first few lessons will be determining where the students are & what their needs are.

Goals: score of 50 or higher on the SPEAK test. Ss are in this class because of low SPEAK scores, so T needs to recognize that they will participate more readily if they see how the class will address their goals of better test performance. T needs to emphasize that effective English communication = high test score. T's goals are for students to be able to communicate effectively in American academia. As most Ss will be TAs, this encompasses all areas of effective spoken English.

The classroom should have a computer with Internet access connected to an overhead projector.

Objectives for the week:
- Ss & T will have shared understanding of the motivations & objectives for the course
- Ss, by gaining basic fluency in the IPA, will acquire tools for independent pronunciation work
- Ss will be acquainted w/ one another, & comfortable & relaxed interacting w/ one another.
- Ss will be encouraged to bring up issues related to their English communication skills

Day 1: Course Goals

- Ss & T begin negotiating objectives of class
- Ss get acquainted & comfortable
- T acquires ethnographic data on Ss, as well as general idea of their strengths & weaknesses

Chit-chat (10 min)
- T introduces self to Ss as they enter, makes small talk and endeavors to get Ss chatting. This establishes a relaxed classroom atmosphere and lowers the affective filter by showing Ss that T is interested in them as people. It should also give T a sense of what the classroom dynamic will be like
Roll call (5 min)
- T intro's roll call as a way for the students to remember one another's names. T ensures that name pronunciation is accurate, makes sure that Ss are being called by their preferred names. T asks each S to briefly introduce self-- national origin, field of study. T takes note of ethnographic data, as well as getting a general sense of S confidence & ability.
Discussion (10 min)
- T asks Ss to think about their goals for the class, and briefly intro's T's goals for the course: effective academic English communication. T prompts Ss to consider what is involved in effective communication
Coffee Break (10 min)
- Before breaking, T encourages Ss to consider their goals for the course. Ss are then released to spend a few minutes getting coffee or tea and chatting with one another. The hope is that they will get better acquainted with one another in a relaxed atmosphere, so as to be comfortable interacting in the future. This is also a chance for the T to observe S interaction so as to better understand their individual strengths & weaknesses.
Discussion (10 min)
- Ss discuss their goals for the course. T ensures that each S gets a chance to speak, and encourages reticent Ss to elaborate on their ideas. Some Ss may simply be shy or frightened, and it will take a few more classes for them to open up, so T should be careful not to push too hard. However, Ss should be made aware that T is interested in everybody's input-- nobody can hide out in the back.
- T writes S goals on the board, asks other Ss for input on each goal
- time permitting, T talks about own goals for the class (and why)

for next class:
T looks over the variety of L1s in the class in order to get a sense of what cultural and pronunciation issues to expect.

Day 2: IPA

Objectives: Students will have a sense of the relationship of pronunciation to other aspects of spoken English, and will have a basic understanding of what the IPA is and how phonetic transcription can aid them in independent pronunciation work.

Materials: IPA chart for English

Chit-chat, coffee & issues (10 min)
- class begins informally, Ss have chance to get coffee or tea, T gets them to talk about how the semester is going, what classes are like, what issues/ problems they anticipate or are already confronting. Anything that cannot be addressed immediately should be taken note of, to be addressed in future classes and used in future plans. T wraps up with roll-call, again emphasizing its purpose in helping Ss learn one another's names. T should continue starting classes with roll-call until observing all Ss comfortable with all names.
Discussion (15 min)
- T prompts S's to generate list of skills involved in academic communication, then fills out important areas they've missed:
- asking & fielding Q's
- cultural differences
- pronunciation
- enunciation
- fluent speech
- vocabulary
- grammar
- emphasize that effective communication is possible without perfect pronunciation
Introducing IPA (25 min)
-T discusses discrepancies b/w written & spoken English. When an S has difficulty pronouncing a word, there are 2 problems @ work.
1. knowing how word ought to be pronounced
2. pronouncing word correctly.
Because English spelling is deceptive, a pronunciation problem-- even for native speakers!-- can often be the result of the reader not knowing correct pronunciation. Can we figure out how to pronounce a word just by reading it?
-examples of deceptive spelling: tip, tiger, creation, through, tough, bough, bought . Ask students to come up with disambiguating ways to spell these words. Hopefully there will be some disagreement, and the difficulty of a phonetically reliable spelling will be apparent. Ask Ss how these issues are resolved in the orthography of their L1s.
-intro idea of IPA-- standardized phonetic transcription, so that problem #1 becomes a non-issue and problem #2 may be addressed directly.
- write out the above words phonetically
- hand out IPA chart, give URL of interactive IPA online
- highlight segments relevant to American English. Some Ss may have learned a different dialect/ accent of English, or may believe that other dialects (British English, for example) are superior. Emphasize that diversity of dialects is desirable, and that American English (even Southern English) is not inferior. American (Southern?) English will be most often used in this class, because that's what we speak here!
-homework-- look over IPA chart, listen to segments relevant to American English online.

Day 3: Syllabus & IPA

Objectives: Students should have good understanding of the course syllabus and of course resources available online. They should have a basic familiarity with the IPA.

IPA flashcards
handouts of mouth diagram
handouts of Alligator article about homelessness in Gainesville.

Issues, coffee, chit-chat (10 min)
-continue roll-call if needed
segue into syllabus discussion (10 min)
- discuss projects, goals, make sure Ss know URL of ASE1 site . Intro them to resources there. (why wait until Day 3? - to make sure that class population is stabilized; we've got all the Ss that we'll have for the rest of the semester) Let Ss know what on syllabus is flexible; encourage them to reflect on issues or concerns they may have with it, let them know they're welcome to approach T at any time in person, phone, or email w/ issues.
IPA (25 min)
- intro problematic pairs & segments
- flashcards. @ first, T shows flashcard to group, prompts Ss to guess what the sound is, affirms correct answer & has them repeat in chorus. Depending on how well they seem to grasp this, T should intro b/w 5 & 15 flash cards, starting w/ the most problematic segments (vowels?) Encourage Ss to come up with words that contain these sounds.
- distribute flashcards to Ss and have them quiz each other
- emphasize that purpose here is literacy in IPA-- NOT perfect pronunciation. correct pronunciation can be developed later in the language lab. here we're simply learning to recognize segmental differences. Ss should be able to see a word written out phonetically & all interpret it the same way-- whether they can reproduce it accurately is of secondary importance.
- if they seem ready for it, hand out mouth diagram and bring up interactive mouth diagram on computer , talk briefly about places of articulation, frics vs. stops, voiced vs. unvoiced. Make sure Ss understand they're not expected to know all this perfectly-- the goal is to give them a very basic familiarity with the terminology and the idea of this way of looking at speech. If it seems helpful, this should be enough to allow them to work/ consider more on their own time.
Homework (5 min)
- hand out copies of Alligator articles. Ask students to look at headlines, photos & captions, but not to worry too much about the text. At home, spend a little time thinking about what they've seen of homelessness / poverty here in Gainesville. Do students know how Americans address these issues? How are they addressed in home country?

Day 4: Wrap-up & Discussion

Objectives: Conclude students' introduction to the IPA. Heighten students' awareness of local issues and of local media (Alligator). Observe how comfortable students are with group discussion-- gather data on what will need to be worked on in future lessons.

additional copies of Alligator articles
mouth diagram (if not covered last time)

Coffee, chit-chat, issues (10 min)

Follow-up from day 3 (5 - 20 min)
- if we got through diagram of mouth on day 3, then briefly review this, concentrating not on accurate terminology but rather on ability to distinguish what makes s different from th, for example, or f vs. p, or t vs. d. Re-emphasize that what matters is not knowing the terminology, nor even (at this point) accurately reproducing the sounds-- but rather identifying segments and understanding what makes them unique.
- if we were unable to finish everything on day 3, then go over everything that was left unfinished. Take as much time as is needed.
- with flashcards, introduce the rest of the IPA, emphasizing symbols that are not part of standard English orthography.
Group discussion (15 - 30 min)
- purpose of 1st discussion is mostly to see how they handle it. Who's willing to speak up? Who's shy? What issues need to be addressed in order for all students to participate freely? T will use this info to prepare future lessons.
- make sure students still have copies of the Alligator article. If not, hand out duplicates.
- give students a chance to bring up issues. If they don't, prompt them:
- what do you know about poverty here in Gainesville?
- are homeless people responsible for their situation?
- should you give money to panhandlers?
- are homeless people mostly the same race as the rest of Americans?
- do you think that race plays a role in poverty?
- would you see an article like this in a local newspaper in your home country?
- how are poverty and homelessness addressed in your home country?
conclusion (5 min)
- get feedback on discussion topic. What would Ss like to discuss in the future?
- bring up IPA again: this is a resource, not a requirement. If it helps Ss get beyond issues with English spelling, great; if they can do fine without it, no problem. They can deal w/ pronunciation in greater depth in Language Lab; hopefully getting them thinking about segmental diffs & the shape of the mouth will make this LL time more effective.


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