oxymoron67: (Default)
One of my students got in touch with me asking to take the final on a different day.


1) It's on Thursday night, grades are due Friday.
2) She wants to miss it for her office Xmas party.
3) This means I have to write two finals.
4) Scheduling.

On the other hand, she did ask ahead of time.

So what should I do?

[Poll #1315079]
oxymoron67: (no bear)
My students gave their big speeches the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Well, all but one of my students who begged for extra time because she didn't prepare.

I should have just failed her sorry ass. But I let her give her speech, but she;s losing enough points that she can't get an A. And, since she wasn't videotaped, she can't complete the assignment, so she loses more points.

I made a mistake here. Last fall, when I taught this class, my students gave four small speeches and three recorded assignments. Thinking that four speeches was too many, I switched it to two, with more recorded assignments. They would still practice speaking, so I figured it would be okay.

It wasn't. My students aren't really more prepared for public speaking. Has their pronunciation improved? Maybe, I only have one semester to get them up to speed, and that's difficult. I've given them the tools to continue working on their pronunciation, though. Still, I think that I need to get them more comfortable speaking in front of an audience, and I did not manage that this term.

Part of my speech assignments is always self-evaluation. My students watch themselves and I ask several questions that they answer in discussion board on Blackboard. (I uploaded their videos on Blackboard.) Normally, students hate watching themselves, and that happened this week, too, but there was an additional reaction. All of them said variations on this:

"Wait, Everyone in class can see my video?"

So I pointed out that everyone saw everyone else's speeches already.


Work is hectic, and next week will be odd. We have the dumbest schedule next week:
Monday: Evening classes only
Tuesday is Thursday.
Wednesday: Evening classes only
Thursday: Day classes only
Friday: No classes.

What the Hell?
oxymoron67: (Default)
Current student complaints:

1) There are no cool pictures of Nebraska to be found.
2) North Dakota is boring.
3) Mississippi has produced B. B. King, but nothing else.
4) South Dakota is not very enjoyable. You can hunt there, though.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Quick note: I cam tell Thanksgiving and finals are fast approaching. I find myself tired of dealing with so many students who apparently think they are God's Most Special Snowflake and the rules don't apply to them.

On Tuesday, my class is giving a short two to three minute speech on their personal hero. On Thursday I announced that I'm going to videotape the speeches and that they're going to have to watch themselves.

They reacted like I said something like, "Sometime before Thanksgiving, I will surgically remove one of your arms."

I do understand. Giving a speech can be uncomfortable enough, let alone being videotaped then forced to watch yourself.

However, no one has ever died from watching themselves giving a speech.

So, I told them this (true) story:

During grad school, I was taking a teaching practicum class. This class required me to team teach a group of recent immigrants for two weeks, and one of those sessions was to be videotaped, which I would watch with the class's professor.

I had planned to do a lesson about job interviews, and had an audio tape prepared, along with transcripts and all this material. As I was passing out the handouts, I tripped over the boombox's powercord, it went flying into a wall. Meantime, I lost my balanced and spun quickly around them room, finally slumping across the overhead projector as if I had had a heart attack or something and just fell over there.

The students, understandably, laughed and laughed.

All caught on tape.

So, while watching this with my professor, we had to stop for a moment, while she laughed. She apologized though.

The best part? I got an A on this part of the classwork, mostly because I just picked myself up gathered everything up and continued with the lesson. Even my professor said that she didn't think she could have done that.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Four tidbits:

1) Lewis and Clark were natives of North Dakota.
2) So was Sacajawea. At least, I think this student was talking about Sacajawea... thought I've never seen that named spelled with three K's before.
3) One of the questions I asked was "How do you get there?" Well, the person doing Nebraska mentioned an airport. Apparently Nebraska has no roads.
4) The two biggest universities in Hawaii are the Univ. of Hawaii and Brigham Young University.
oxymoron67: (Default)
We talked about rhythm in English, that the stressed syllables take the most time, and that English likes every other syllable to be strong.

Last week, we watched American Tongues, a 80's era documentary on dialects in the United States. Regional stereotypes were discussed. You know, that Southerners find Northerners cold and rude and Northerners hear a Southern dialect and think "inbred, redneck hillbilly."

That sort of thing.

Plus, the clothes and the hair! One of the questions I always ask is "This documentary was produced a long time ago. How can you tell?"

Everyone laughs at the fashion choices.

Well, it came up in class when we were talking about how quickly some people speak.

Me: Well, how do Americans feel about people who speak very slowly?
St1: They think they're stupid.
Me: Yes.
St2: So people think we're stupid because we don't speak English this way?
Me: No. You're not native speakers. Different rules apply.
St3: Oh, come on!
Me: Think about it. When you hear an American speak Spanish, they're not going to speak it as quickly as you do, right?
St3: Yes, that;s right. You're not used to it.
Me: Exactly. You don't look at that person and think "Estupido gringo"
(Class bursts into laughter.)
Me:... BECAUSE he's not a native speaker.
(Everyone nods.)
Me: Well, the same thing normally applies with Americans. If we hear a non-native accent, we make allowances.
St4: Yeah, but...
Me: NORMALLY. Some people won't. But some people are just horses' asees.
(Puzzled looks.)
Me: Something my grandmother used to say: There are more horses' asses in this world than there are horses.
(general laughter)

I have to say that I really like this class. It's small enough that everyone can get some individualized attention, but it's large enough that they have a variety of opinions.

Plus, they laugh at my jokes.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Class was fun, but work sucked this week, and I almost started screaming at someone today.

Class details. )

Today sucked. )
oxymoron67: (Default)
We were covering the back vowels tonight: the vowels in the words boat, book and boot.

It led to some vocabulary discussions.

St1: So.... what's a "woodchuck"?
St2: It's a bird that...
Me: No, that's a woodpecker. (Pause) No one? You all have computers in front of you. Look it up.
St3: It's a marmot.
Me: Does that help anyone?
(Blank stares)
Me: So what's a marmot?
St4: It's a groundhog.
St5: A hog? So it's a pig? It doesn't look like a pig.
Me: No, no... it has a lot of fur...
St6: A furry pig? Do you eat it?
Me: No, it's a rodent...
St7: So it's a great big rat?
Me: ... Like a rabbit.
St3: It doesn't have rabbit ears...
Me: Okay... it's kind of like a beaver.... only without the big flat tail.
St7: What's a beaver?
Me: Look it up.
(after a minute)
St8: Oh. It makes sense now.

Me: Okay... so what is a "doe"?
(Blank stares)
Me: I promise you all know this one.
(Blank, disbelieving stares)
Me: You know the movie "The Sound of Music"? You know the song with the kids....
St1: Do re mi?
Me: Yes (I start singing) "Doe a deer, a female deer".
Students giggle, with an undertone of "He just used an example from a musical. He's so very gay."
Me: Well, a doe is a deer, a female deer.
St3: I've never had a professor sing to me before.
St2: What's the word for a make deer?
Me: A buck.
St2: It makes sense now. My husband and I were at a restaurant and I had to go to the restroom. They were "bucks" and "does". I had no idea which one to use.
Me: What did you do?
St2: I just left. I couldn't ask someone. We stopped on the way home.
Me: Well, now you know. And knowing's half the battle.
oxymoron67: (Default)
A change of plans, a confrontation and a quiz! )
oxymoron67: (Default)
This week was "work on consonants week", so we went over the 24 consonant sounds of Standard American English. It led to some interesting discussions.

We talked about how words change pronunciation over time. It started with the pronunciation of the word "handkerchief". In particular, the fact that we don't pronounce the "d", and that the third syllable isn't always pronounced with a long e sound.

I pointed out that when this word was created, it was a compound noun: two words slammed together: hand" and "kerchief". The /d/ sound was dropped. I gave another example: I asked my students to spell the word "cupboard". One did, but the rest spelled "cubbard" or some variation. Again, I said, this was originally a compound: it was a board where you stored dishes, therefore "cupboard."

After that, we talked about how words change in meaning. I used the example "friend". When I was a child (back in the Stone Age, when computers were the size of rooms and you entered data on them with punchcards), "friend" was a noun and a noun only. Now, of course, its a verb, too. That's a meaning shift.

Then, one of my students pointed out that he "fedexes" things all the time.

So, I wrote FedEx, Xerox, Kleenex, and Clorox on the board, and we talked about how these brand names have now become nouns representing the product: lots of people use "kleenex" in place of tissues, for example, and FedEx and Xerox have become verbs.

Then we went back to sound discrimination work.


Sep. 19th, 2008 09:02 am
oxymoron67: (Default)
We continued with the IPA last night. I figured that we needed to review what we covered last night before starting in with listening and transcription exercises.

Things like that always take longer than I plan for. I figured we'd spend 15 minutes on the review. It turned out to be 45 minutes. That's fine: I'm not upset. The IPA is such an intrinsic part of this course that I'd rather go more slowly and be certain they have a grasp of it.

So after that, I had them listen to all the standard American English IPA sounds, as recorded by professionals. This is their second exposure to the sounds, as I made each one several times when I introduced them.

After that, we discussed which sounds they found most difficult. They were the normal ones: /ð/ as in mother, /θ/ as in think, /æ/ as in apple and our friend the schwa, as in above. -zh- as in measure was also mentioned. (I need to download an IPA font for this machine.)

I always do the "which sounds give you trouble" thing because I seen that many ESL learners think that they're the only person in the world with these problems, that their difficulties with English are a sign of stupidity. I like to show them that it's not just them, that it's totally normal and, therefore, nothing to feel stupid about.

At this point, it was time for their lab hour. I split them into groups and had them do several transcription exercises form the book. We'll go over them on Tuesday (I know the lab tutor did this, too, but it's worth checking to be sure) and then we;ll start ont he consonants.
oxymoron67: (Default)
So, yesterday, I introduced the International Phonetic Alphabet to my students.
Fun under the cut. )


Sep. 12th, 2008 11:37 am
oxymoron67: (Default)
Last night, I decided to foucs solely on introducing blackboard. It's been my experience that, between students forgetting passwords, some students' lack of computer skills (more prevalent among older students) and the fact that ur administration takes forever to update rosters on blackboard, this takes a full hour.

Last night my students listened to Robert Frost poems. I had uploaded the text and then made recordings of my own voice reciting them. They are going to have to pick one to recite, and I wanted to expose them to it.

It went well, as such classes go. Since I use blackboard so much that I figure it makes sense to take an hour now and make sure everyone can get on, rather than wait, when it would be more costly in terms of time and effort.
oxymoron67: (awesome)
First night of class went really well.
Click here for the exciting details )
oxymoron67: (Default)
I put together my syllabus this afternoon. Here are the topics we're covering:

1) The International Phonetic Alphabet*
2) American English Consonant Sounds
3) American English Vowel Sounds
4) American English Stress System
5) -ed and -s endings' pronunciation rules
6) Rhythm (maybe)

Assignments include:

One poetry reading
Two speeches
One digital story (I'm doing the state project again)
Two listening/speaking exercises based on StoryCorps

Ambitious, but doable.


oxymoron67: (Default)

October 2013

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