21G.232 | Spring 2007 | Undergraduate

Advanced Speaking and Critical Listening Skills (ELS)


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Objectives

Advanced Listening Comprehension and Speaking Skills (21G.232/3) is not an English conversation class; it is designed for students who are relatively comfortable with the complex grammatical structures of English and with casual conversation. The course provides practice in four main areas:

  1. The various kinds of oral interactions, including impromptu speaking, job interviews, research presentations, and dynamic teaching, for which MIT students/graduates will be responsible in their careers
  2. The idiomatic English associated with such communication
  3. Accurate pronunciation, stress and intonation patterns in English
  4. Critical listening skills for professional contexts

You belong in 21G.232 if you are motivated to improve your speaking skills and if you are willing to work hard to improve.

Course Description

Over the course of the term, you will be responsible for a variety of spoken communication tasks. We will be considering such factors as effective message structure, gestures and facial expressions, common idiomatic expressions associated with particular contexts, successful Q & A sessions, useful visual aids, and interpretation of rapid speech. We will also consider the influence of national- and micro-cultures on communication norms. You will learn how to evaluate your performances, as well as those of your peers. Recording equipment will be used regularly to provide feedback. In addition, LLARC has a selection of digital camcorders for student use should you wish to videotape a practice session outside of class.

We will use some class time to work on common problems in English pronunciation, stress and intonation. In addition, each student will have a personal lab program to address individual pronunciation and listening comprehension problems.

Although our primary focus is spoken communication, you will also learn about effective memo writing and be responsible for handing in occasional memos for a variety of purposes.

Required Materials

  1. A binder with pockets to hold papers

  2. An 8-cm Sony® Plus Rewriteable (RW) DVD

  3. A small portable mirror

Attendance and Participation

This workshop is designed for self-motivated students who are interested in actively taking charge of improving English skills. You can expect to see improvement in your speaking and critical listening skills only if you come to class regularly, closely follow the syllabus, do the recommended assignments, evaluate each of your presentations, and consider the evaluations of your peers, as well as the detailed evaluations that I will provide you when you hand in each self-evaluation. Students who, due to general study habits or schedule conflicts, expect to have difficulty in arriving on time, attending class regularly and in completing assignments on time do not belong in the workshop.

Grade Distribution

The point value (for a total of 100 points) of each assignment follows:

Attendance, participation, and in-class exercises 15
Mock job interview 5
Group summary of teaching tapes 5
Group debate 5
Introduction to speaker 5
Explanation of visual aid 5
Memos (5 X 2 points) 10
Recordings (5 X 2 points) 10
Interactive teaching 20
Oral report on research 20

Independent Practice of Clear Speech and Critical Listening

This course involves assignments that require the use of the MIT Language Learning and Resource Center (LLARC).

In addition, you are expected to spend at least two hours each week this term working independently on listening, fluency and pronunciation practice in any of the following ways:

  1. Spend time in LLARC, using any English audiocassettes, videocassettes, or DVDs that appeal to you. In addition, I will make suggestions for each of you, depending on your particular speaking/listening strengths and weaknesses.
    • Familiarize yourself with the collection and procedures in LLARC.
    • When you go the Center, ask an assistant to help you with any questions or problems.
  2. Listen to the radio (e.g., NPR at 90.9 FM), watch TV (e.g., PBS) at home, use on-line materials from the recommended list, or go to movies or plays.
  3. Practice critical listening during academic conversations, lectures, departmental seminars, or research group meetings.
  4. Practice with the on-line materials recommended in related resources.
  5. Practice critical listening and impromptu speaking in English socially.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2007
Learning Resource Types
Activity Assignments
Written Assignments