Department of Linguistics University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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ESL 110/510

Dept/Number/Title: ESL 110/510 - Pronunciation for Academic Purposes

Credit: 0 hours

Prerequisite: Placement by Illinois EPT Oral Interview. Students may be proficiencied out of ESL 110/510 on the basis of superior performance on an oral diagnostic test given during the first week of classes.

Relation to other courses: It is not a prerequisite for any ESL course. May be taken concurrently with other ESL courses.

Audience: Non-native speaker degree-seeking undergraduate and graduate students

Textbook: Speechcraft: Discourse Pronunciation for Advanced Learners, and Speechcraft: Workbook for Academic Discourse Laura D. Hahn and Wayne B. Dickerson, University of Michigan Press, 1999.

Abstract: A systematic coverage of the English sound system focuses on areas of student difficulties in producing, perceiving, and predicting sounds, rhythm, and melody. Emphasis is placed on equipping learners to be self-teachers for on-going improvement of their proficiency.

A diagnostic test at the start of the semester identifies a student's major pronunciation problems and marks them as targets for special work during the semester.

Course contents: Native-like rhythm is so important to intelligible speech that the course pays daily attention to the rhythm of spoken English and to the special contributions to rhythm made by accurate stress, intonation, vowel quality contrasts, and by the linking, blending, and trimming of sounds. The point of instruction is to equip students with the tools they need to learn on their own out of class. They practice using techniques for self-monitoring and self-correcting. They learn rules for predicting the vowel and consonant constituents of words, the stress of words and constructions (like compound nouns, compound verbs), and the intonation of phrases. Special emphasis is placed on the use of phrase stress in discourse to convey meaning.

Type of work: Students do in-class oral work and out-of-class written exercises, make audio recordings, and use audio recording at home.

Grading basis: CR/NCR grades are based on written tests and assignments (30%), improvement on oral tests, recordings, and other oral performance (60 %), attendance, participation in class and in the language laboratory (10%). A passing grade for this course is a grade of B- or higher.

Course Description

ESL 110/510 is a single course, serving two groups of students. Undergraduates register under ESL 110; graduates register under ESL 510. To enroll, undergraduates and graduates must be either required or recommended to take the course on the basis of results from their Illinois English Placement Test (EPT) Oral Interview.

The course is designed to improve the international student's ability to speak and understand educated English at normal conversational speed and to give the student the ability to continue improving pronunciation skills after the course is finished through training in self-monitoring and self-teaching.

Class time is focused on these areas of pronunciation:

  • Vowel and consonant articulation work, as indicated by a diagnostic test of the student's oral skills
  • Rhythm and rhythm facilitators (vowel reduction, linking and trimming of sounds)
  • Word stress and construction stress (compound nouns, compound adjectives, multiword verbs, etc)
  • Primary stress and intonation of phrases in discourse

The specific objectives of in-class and out-of-class work are to enhance the learner's skill in perception (listening), production (articulation), and prediction (before speaking, judging which vowel, consonant, stress position or intonation pattern is appropriate for a word, phrase or sentence). Students learn to use standard English orthography to predict vowels, consonants, and stress in novel words and phrases so that they can be independent learners after the class concludes.

Students are expected to attend class sessions regularly and complete all written and recorded assignments. Students are expected to successfully pass periodic oral and written tests.

Credit: Semester Hours 0 (for undergraduates and graduates). For purposes of visa status, assistantships, loans, etc. this course is recognized university-wide as equivalent to 4 hours of work, even though it carries 0 credit.