The aim of the Language Acquisition 1: The Spoken Word course is that you acquire and further develop the skills that you need to express yourself fluently and accurately in spoken English. The emphasis in this course is on becoming an accurate language user: as a university-trained English Studies graduate you are expected to be able to express yourself fluently, but more importantly, correctly and precisely. This is why the two skills that we believe most help you become an accurate language user are central to this course: pronunciation and vocabulary study.
Vocabulary and idioms in practice: In this part of the course you activate the vocabulary and idioms that you have studied at home in short speaking assignments. You give a short talk, for instance, or you act as a panel discussion leader and you participate in role-plays. In addition you practise the most important language functions in English, such as saying hello, giving advice and disagreeing with someone. This looks quite simple, but you will discover that not knowing how to use these language functions frequently leads to misunderstanding due to cultural differences between native speakers of Dutch and English. Finally, you acquire, through self-study, passive knowledge of words and idioms that are often used in academic texts. This will help you to read literary texts and secondary academic sources with more ease.
Pronunciation: The aim of this part of the course is to help you improve your pronunciation of English sounds by means of practice in the language laboratory. However, the analysis and practising of individual sounds is not the be-all and end-all. We will also devote much time to practising words that are often mispronounced. And in the second half of the course, the emphasis will lie on suprasegmental aspects of pronounction such as intonation and stress.
Of course a single language proficiency course cannot teach you to speak English perfectly. You will need to invest quite a lot yourself in developing your fluency and accuracy. The English Department tries to help you, by requiring its tutors and students to use English in all courses, but you will learn much more from reading and listening to English and from trying to speak as much English as possible, preferably by spending some time in an English-speaking country.
By the end of the course you have acquired an active vocabulary that enables you to express yourself on a variety of everyday topics, as well as all kinds of current social and cultural topics.
You will be able to recognise and paraphrase over 1000 words and idioms frequently used in academic and literary texts.
You pronounce British English naturally and intelligibly with regard to vowel and consonant sounds, stress and intonation.
And you are able to identify and describe the pronunciation problems of your fellow students.
Mode of instruction
One ninety-minute tutorial in the language laboratory.
Self-study of vocabulary, idioms and pronunciation.
The total course load is 140 hours (5 EC), allocated as follows:
Tutorial attendance: 26 hours.
Tutorial preparation: 76 hours.
Self-study, including revision for the tests: 33 hours.
Tests: 3 hours.
Tutoring/opportunity to inspect exam: 2 hours.
Oral pronunciation and speaking test (60%) and a written vocabulary and idioms test (40%). To pass the course, you need to obtain a 6.0 pass for both components. Failed components can be retaken.
In this course, Blackboard is used to present course information, notify you of changes to the course and to make course materials available.
Bromberg, M. & Gordon, M. (2013). 1100 words you need to know. Hauppauge, NY: Barron.
Longman dictionary of contemporary English (most recent edition). Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education.
Smakman, D. (2015). Accent building. A British English pronunciation course for speakers of Dutch (2nd edition). Leiden: Leiden University Press. (Students taking American Lab do not need to buy this book!)
Vocabulary and idioms materials: Available from Blackboard.
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