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Oral Communication and Interaction Skills for International Teaching Assistants

GC 511, Oral Communication and Interaction Skills for International Teaching Assistants. The course is offered for 3 hours credit with Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading only. Prerequisite(s): Graduate standing, ESL 401 or GC 510, and consent of the instructor.

Course Description:

GC 511 (Former ESL 401 Spring) is an academic discussion course that focuses on developing students' interaction skills in a group setting. Students will actively practice fluency and conversation skills such as turn-taking, expressing opinions, elaborating, paraphrasing, and asking follow-up questions, while engaging in relevant cultural topics. In addition, students will have the opportunity to develop their presentation and academic discourse skills by leading class and group discussions.

Linguistic and discourse strategies such as using stress and intonation to convey meaning, and using idiomatic expressions and explicitness to clarify terminology are also emphasized. Class time and discussion groups will provide opportunities for both controlled, focused practice and fluent speaking.

Course Elements:
  • Weekly two-hour class session: The focus is on interactive group discussion and leadership skills that include: taking conversational turns, handling miscommunication, summarizing, linking responses, agreeing and disagreeing, polite interruption, asking follow-up questions, elaboration, narration, and group management and boundary setting. Students will get both controlled, focused practice of these skills as well as opportunities for fluency building, all in a culturally relevant content-based environment. The content-based instruction in this course provides a platform for deeper level critical thinking and discussion on the part of the student. Some topics that may be visited in the course include: the American Dream, the first amendment and civil and human rights, immigration, and economic and education inequality. Students will gain valuable background and cultural information on each of the topics, apply their own experiences in their discussions, and be able to dicsuss the current relevance of each topic.
  • Weekly one-hour discussion group session: Throughout the semester, students will attend one-hour discussion sessions outside of regular class time. During these sessions, students will have the opportunity to discuss topics of their choice while actively using the group discussion and leadership skills that they have learned and practiced in class. Students will receive individual feedback from the instructor on interaction and leadership skills, grammar and vocabulary, as well as elements of production such as vowel sounds, consonant articulation, word stress, and intonation.
  • Independent soundwork: Soundwork is assigned by the instructor each week to be completed via Blackboard. It is designed to improve students’ general intelligibility and use of language. It gives the student the opportunity to focus on specific language-production difficulties and receive individualized feedback from the instructor. Soundwork consists of two parts: an initial recording, and a second recording that incorporates the feedback given by the instructor. Completing each soundwork assignment on-time is important for ongoing improvement.
Course Requirements:
In order to receive a satisfactory grade students must have:
  • 75% attendance of both scheduled class and discussion group times
  • 75% completion of homework (discussion board posts on Blackboard based on assigned readings)
  • 75% completion of independent soundwork assignments:
    • To be considered completed, each soundwork assignment must consist of TWO parts:
      • A re-recording based on the individualized feedback given for the original recording
      • An initial recording as assigned by the instructor
  • 2 Performance Evaluation preparation sessions
  • Final Performance Evaluation (see FAQs) to be completed at the end of the semester

***There are no exams. Your grade (Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory) depends on the amount of participation and satisfactory work you complete throughout the semester.

"I think ESL 401 can provide more in-depth knowledge of communicating with natives and American cultures.  And more chances to communicate.  Overall, the course is very good." -Student Spring 2013- ITA Home