Thursday, 5 April 2018

Welcome to Chris Elvin's Aoyama University Oral English class

Dear students,
Welcome to the course. Please visit the blog to check for news, updates, and homework assignments.
Kind regards,
Chris Elvin

Oral English II
Spring 2018

Instructor: Chris Elvin

Course Description

Welcome to Oral English. This class is designed to accomplish the following:

1) Discuss stories in the news.
2) Keep a vocabulary notebook.
3) Research a topic, and give a group presentation of it.

Course Assessment and Grading Criteria

a)      20%   Serving as discussion leader
b)      32%   News summary writing
c)      20%   Vocabulary tests
d)      20%   Group presentations
e)      8%     Vocabulary notebook

a) Serving as discussion leader (20)
You should introduce yourself to the others, address the others by name, make eye contact, and use body language to communicate.
Choose a news item from a newspaper, or an online source. Prepare your summary before class. Orally summarize it in class to your group (do not read from notes). Solicit opinions from others about it. Ask follow-up questions. Paraphrase others. Express an opinion in your summary if you wish to do so. The length of each discussion will be eleven or twelve minutes, ideally with no Japanese and little silence.
If you are not group leader, you may still engender a lively talkative group by agreeing, disagreeing, asking opinions, interrupting, clarifying, asking questions, and giving reasons. You are encouraged to do so.
An absent discussion leader is extremely costly to the success of the class, so you must attend both sessions per semester to earn 20 points. If you are present for your session you will earn 10 points. If you are absent for your session, you will be penalized 10 points.

Discussion leader vocabulary homework:
After you have served as group leader, it is your responsibility to upload three vocabulary items to the class vocabulary database via the online form (You will have to submit three times).
Discussion leaders do not need to write a summary nor update their vocabulary notebooks during the week that they lead the discussion.

Discussion Leader's Vocabulary Upload Form

For each word, you should give a meaning (in English or Japanese), and use the word in a sentence, that helps learners to understand its meaning.

Discussion Leader Assesment:
After your discussion leader has finished, please provide feedback to her via the online form below:

a) Described the main points of the article without reading: 1 point
b) Explained vocabulary when needed, using only English: 1 point 
c) Paraphrased partners’ comments accurately: 1 point
a) Asked partners questions, used their names, and encouraged their participation: 1 point
b) Used follow-up questions and rephrased them as necessary: 1 point
c) Employed questioning to direct the discussion and to clarify points: 1 point
Non-verbally Communicating

a) Frequent, natural eye contact: 1 point
b) Appropriate, helpful gestures: 1 point
c) Good posture and sensitivity to the body language of other group members: 1 point

b) News summary writing (32)
After every lesson you should summarize one of the day’s discussion topics. (who, what, where, when, why, how). Conclude with your opinion. Each summary writing exercise should be between 150 and 250 words. You should use your own words – otherwise you may be charged with plagiarism. 
Examples of plagiarism are; copying a sentence, copying a sentence but changing a few words for synonyms, copying phrases, and using vocabulary that is beyond your understanding. Students who are accused of plagiarism will get a maximum grade of “C”.
Please use the online form below for submitting your summaries.

c) Vocabulary tests (20)
There will be two online vocabulary tests based on all of the words that you uploaded to the database as discussion group leaders. One will be mid-term, and the other at the end of the semester. 

d) Presentations (20)
There will be a mid-term presentation and a final presentation, both of which will need preparation before you speak. Research a topic. Then deliver your presentation. You will be assessed on fluency (not reading), grammar range and accuracy, vocabulary, pronunciation and content. You should speak for at least three minutes, and you should not read your speech nor bring a script.

e) Vocabulary notebook (8)
Keep a vocabulary notebook of new words that you learned in class. Write their definitions in either English, or Japanese, or both. Use your words in a sentence to demonstrate your active knowledge of them. You should add at least ten words per week to your notebook. If you did not learn as many as ten new words per class, you may use the class vocabulary database words to make up the difference. Your notebook is personal, so it should not just be a copy paste of the spreadsheet; It should show your endeavor to learn new words. You will need to make vocabulary notes eight times per semester.


You will normally have five or six discussions per class led by the discussion group leaders, who will rotate from group to group. Your group members will be chosen at random by the teacher. After the discussions, there will be time for summary writing, vocabulary notebooks, or studying the words in the database.

Week 1: Orientation: Watch a video of student discussions
Week 2: Group discussion 1
Week 3: Group discussion 2
Week 4: Group discussion 3
Week 5: Group discussion 4
Week 6: Group discussion 5 
Week 7: Online vocabulary test, mid-term presentations
Week 8: Mid-term presentations
Week 9: Group discussion 1
Week 10: Group discussion 2
Week 11: Group discussion 3
Week 12: Group discussion 4
Week 13: Group discussion 5
Week 14: Online vocabulary test, hand in vocabulary notebooks & discussion summaries portfolio, Final presentations
Week 15 Final presentations

Anything else?

Why not visit the chat room? It is a great way to practice English.

Aoyama Gakuin University Attendance Policy
Your absences may affect your final grade. 
There is a grade ceiling policy depending on the absences you have from class.

Between zero and three absences per year: no effect
Four or five absences per year: maximum grade; A
Six or seven absences per year: maximum grade; B
Eight or nine absences per year: maximum grade; C
Ten absences per year: automatic failure.     

These ceilings should not be interpreted that all students may be absent from class up to three times, nor that weak students may be absent from class more than strong students; Weak students need to come to class at least as much as strong students. 

Kind regards,
Chris Elvin

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