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Course Outlines, Homework, and Student Results
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Letters from the students!
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Review material, exercises, and tutorials
The Life-Line
Recordings and (some) transcriptions
Short Stories and Articles
Some notes on rhetoric, grammar, and phonology

May 5th.
Dear Students,
I have posted your grades, after rounding out *everything* every blessed step of the way. This is popularly known as 'massaging the numbers'.
It was an exciting and interesting semester.
While I was sorry to see you go, I take comfort in the thought that you are all going to bigger and better places.

Sunday, April 11th, eight-thirty p.m.
Dear Students,
For those who may have been absent last class,
here in brief is what to expect this week.
You will be required to compose a short text in double-space which continues and completes the clip we saw in class about the fat slobs eating snails. I believe the length should be of about two hundred words (subject to verification). You are encouraged to bring any reference material you like, *except* for a draught of your text. You are free to start exercising your imaginations now...
You will then be required to watch the rest of the clip, and to describe certain parts of it in short but complete sentences.
You will be expected to be able to apply correctly what you have learned in the course about grammar. I believe the writing tasks described above are sufficiently varied to make it impossible for any student to exploit the 'strategy of avoidance' to any significant degree.
The remainder of the period will be devoted to discussion of the phonology rules that will be tested in the very last class.

Suggested corrections for portion of mid-term exam on conjugations and time expressions.

Monday evening.
Dear students,
Please find hereunder part of an exchange I had earlier today with one of your colleagues about modals, and what will be covered on Wednesday's test.
Allow me to point out that no reference material may be used on the grammar test, although the use of *all* such materials is encouraged during the writing test, to be held on the following Wednesday. Creating and pronouncing compound adjectives, creating and pronouncing Tag-Questions, and the effect of suffixation on accentuation patterns will all be tested on the very last Wednesday.
In a few more moments, I will post a correction-key for the conjugations tested on the mid-term exam. In the meantime, see what you can get out of the discussion of modals, reproduced below. 
Dear Student:
....You have requested specific guidance on the use of the modals, and have asked for examples of what I will be expecting you to be able to do with them on Wednesday.

Recall that the main point of interest with modals is their two types of use: to express something about the world of action (e.g., duty, need) vs. the mental world (e.g., certainty, conclusion, or estimation).
This is discussed in great detail in Tutorial B.

Just one example should suffice to remind you of the distinction:

He may leave at any time.

In this sentence, 'may' can be interpreted in two ways. It can be a reference to the world of action, in which someone gives someone else permission to do something. In other words, the sentence can mean about the same as the following:

He has my permission to leave whenever he wants to.

On the other hand, the sentence can refer to the speaker's mental world, in which he is expressing his state of mind, i.e., his belief that something is possible. In other words, he is asserting that one may be permitted to believe that something is true. Under that interpretation, the sentence could be paraphrased as follows:

I believe that his departure is possible at any moment.

In short, 'may' refers ambiguously to permission to someone else to do something, or permission to anyone in general to believe that something is true, e.g., 'You may now kiss the bride (go ahead!)' vs. 'The moon may be made of green cheese (lets go see if it's true).'

Notice the following use of 'may':

This medication may cause hair-loss, memory-loss, and loss of social status. Use with caution!

The speaker asserts that an event is generally possible (cf., French: «Il peut arriver que...»)

On the test, you will need to be able to distinguish these meanings. Recall that with some of the other modals, the verb may conjugate differently, depending on which type of meaning is intended. For example. you cannot use 'must' to refer to an obligation in the past:

*Yesterday, he must clean up his sister's bathroom.

To refer to duty or need in the past, 'have to' is required:

Yesterday, he had to clean up his sister's bathroom.

If the speaker is asserting his belief about something in the past, he uses 'must' in a 'perfect' conjugation:

Yesterday, he must have cleaned his sister's bathroom -it smells normal today, so I'm sure of it.

The greatest difficulty for speakers of French is with the modal 'should'. The basic meaning of this modal refers to something that is 'owed' or 'expected'. Things can be 'owed' or 'expected' in the world of action, as well as in the world of the mind. Consider the 'action-world' vs. the 'mental world' meanings of 'should':

He should study more than he does now.

This means:

He does not study as much as I expect him to do.


He should be in Pyong-Yang by now, according to my rough calculations.

This means:

Thanks to my rough calculations, I expect it to be true that he has had time to get to Pyong-Yang, and he is probably there now.

Notice that like 'may', some sentences with 'should' can be ambiguous between the 'action-world' meaning and the 'mental-world' meaning:

He should be learning differential calculus by now.

This can mean:

He is still learning arithmetic and Venn diagrams! He can be reasonably expected to be doing calculus by now. Why isn't he??

Or it could mean:

I have not seen what kind of math he is doing nowadays, but considering his age, it seems reasonable to expect it to be true that by now, he is probably doing calculus.

On the exam, you will be required to compose sentences with the appropriate modals and conjugations to describe certain scenes. We have done  this in class more than once.

You will also be required to re-write sentences. You will take a sentence with an adverb, and re-write it as a sentence with a modal.

For example:

Maybe Finley is still in the cafeteria.
Finley may still be in the cafeteria.

Maybe Finley was in the cafeteria last night.
Finley may have been in the cafeteria last night.

Finley is no doubt in the cafeteria.
Finley must  be in the cafeteria.

Or you may be required to re-express a sentence that has no modals with one that does:

Finley was required last night to go to the cafeteria.
Finley had to go to the cafeteria last night.

It would be more normal if Finley had learned French before moving here!
Finley should have learned French before moving here!

Here is an interesting problem:

Finley has probably picked up a bit of French by now.
Finley should have picked up some French by now.

Notice the ambiguity of this last example: depending on the context, it could mean that it would be reasonable to expect Finley to have picked up some French by now, but the silly clown still has not.


Saturday, April 3rd, one p.m.
Dear Students,
Please find my recording of Part A at the following address:
Here is Part B:
Here is Part C:
Here is Part D:
The material we discussed in class this week is summarised in a document that you will find on the 'Review' page. Sorry, I wan't able to stick the link to that document here on this page, for some reason.
See you on Wednesday for the Grammar test (20%).
Saturday, March 27th, eleven-thirty a.m.
Dear Students,
Please find your 'Read and Record' assignment on the Homework page. Exceptionally, I will accept this assignment as late as Tuesday evening.
Remember the prodedure: Use Audacity 1.2.6, available as freeware on Download.Com.
Record at about 11,000 Hz (refer to menu at bottom left corner of Audacity panel).
Export as a WAV file ...and nothing else! Kindly ignore the other options!
Give the file *YOUR NAME* and nothing else.
Mail it to me by Tuesday evening.
Saturday, March 20th, noon.
Dear Students,
Here is what you should do for me this week. (Please have your work in the mail by Monday evening.)
1) Listen to 'Country Garage' (on this site), and read along with it (see the transcription). Identify the FIVE types of Tag-Question that exist in English. Quote one example of each type from the skit. Recall that I use a question mark to indicate a tag with a rising intonation. All other tags have a falling intonation.
Now put a paraphrase after each example to who that you understand the meaning of the tag-question.
You like soybean ice-cream, don't you?
'Would you like some soybean ice-cream?'
You like soybean ice-cream, don't you!
'I can tell (e.g., from the way you are eating) that you definitely do like soybean ice-cream.'
All of this should require only a few lines!
2) Recall the anecdotes you told in class. Recall also that there was one you did not have the opportunity to tell. Please summarize it, and say what you think the message might be, or for whose ears the anecdote was intended. Only a few, carefully-written lines, please!
3) Watch the following clips, and describe the motions and gestures of the central characters. Then compare the characters' motions and gestures (1st clip as opposed to 2nd clip).
The main point of this exercise is that some components of a gesture are simultaneous with others, and some occur before or after others.
This should require only a few lines in all!
Sandra Bullock with her husband:
North Korean 'Traffic Girl':
Sunday, March 14th, four p.m.
Dear Students,
At last, I have found the *right* thing for you this week. This will be interesting, and a bit of a change from doing exercises.
Please have a look at the following PDF documents (no more than 5MBs in all):
Now, here is what you must do.
If the first letter of your last name corresponds to an even number, select one story from the first book that starts on an even number, and one from the second book that starts from an even number. Likewise, if the first letter of your last name corresponds to an odd number, select one story from each book accordingly.
Learn the stories, and be prepared to tell them to other people.
By no means should you memorize the stories!
Learn to tell them as you would tell a joke or a camp-fire tale.
Thus, there is nothing to send me this week ...but I'll be waiting for you Wednesday.
Friday, February 26th, ten p.m.
Dear Students,
The test of March 10th will include the following tasks.
You will be required to silently underline the accentuated syllables of certain words, e.g., 'proFAnity, DEfecate, sponTAneous, spontaNEity'.
You will be required to create compound adjectives, e.g.,
'The surgeon pulled out a worm that was thirty-three inches long.'
'The surgeon pulled out a .................. worm.'
>>> a thirty-three-inch worm.
You will be required to match Time Expressions with compatible conjugations, as in previous homework.
You will be required to complete sentences starting with Time Expressions, in your own words.
You will be required to watch a clip and to create sentences based on it using modals of Duty and modals of Certainty.
You will be required to look at a picture and describe it.
And lastly, you will be required to watch a clip and describe it.
Saturday, February 13th, four p.m.
Dear Students,
Your homework for this week-end has been posted on the Homework page. It involves the ten pictures which are also posted there (Larson 1-10).
Also, for independent study, please see the 'Recordings & Transcriptions' page. Listen to 'The Lonesome Country Garage' and read the transription. All of the Tag-Questions are exemplified in this skit. Futhermore, on the 'Review' page, there is a tutorial on making compound adjectives. Please do some of the practise exercises, and be sure to know the five types of compound adjective.
Saturday, February 6th, noon
Dear students,
The word of the week is....
A C U P U N C T U R E !
It works fine for minor things...
It works, sort of, for more serious things...
It no longer works at all, for some people !
When's the last time you got your *** 'acupunctured' ??
The first part of this week-end's e-mail homework is on the happy topic of getting treated by a certified acupuncturist.
This assignment will help you prepare for the 10% mid-term, coming up soon.
Please download and watch the following brief clip:
Now, relate the story. Your verbal version of this clip must include the appropriate use of time expressions based on the words BEFORE, WHILE, JUST AS, UNTIL, and BY. That should be pretty easy, with this clip !
For the second part or this week-end's assignment, do the following dictionary exercise. I have put a document on the 'Homework' page that lists a number of words.
Do this as a listening exercise. Take your CDs for the dictionary, and look up the words on the list. Listen to the pronunciation of each word. Underline the accentuated syllable of each word. Include this annotated list in the e-mail homework to me.
Kindly mail these two parts together to me at
by Monday evening.
Saturday, January 30th, seven-thirty p.m.
Dear students,
Here are the items I promised earlier today:
1- Some suggested corrections for those twenty sentence fragments with time expressions 'until', 'for', and so on, are now in the 'Homework summary document, just up-dated. Enjoy.
2- Suggested readings and exercises in the book:
Please review the conjugations, as discussed in Azar, ch. 1, 2, 3, and 4. The material is very simple. Try some of the exercises on your own, and identify your areas of greatest difficulty. Make the best use you can of the Answer Keys. Take notes of any insuperable difficulties you encounter, and bring them to my attention, either by email, or in class.
Take care to study ch.7 as well. Notice how the count/non-count distinction is expressed by articles and quantifiers (e.g., 'few/ a few' / 'little / a little)
3- Suggested uses of the list (already posted) of 'false cognates' («faux amis»):
Review the list attentively before next class. Select the items on the list which you did not realise to be false cognates with French. Be prepared to discuss this next Wednesday.
I also strongly encourage you to look at the 'Sample Exercise with correction key' posted at the bottom of this page.

January 20th, late evening.
Dear students,
This week's homework is in two parts.
The first part is email homework, to be sent to me by Friday afternoon.
Please watch the following clip on YouTube:
Now write a description of the clip in three short parts.
A line or two should be sufficient for each part.
The parts should correspond to the three levels of description that we discussed on the first day of class.
1) Static description: name the objects and individuals in the scene, and describing them and their relative positions, as required for a basic understanding of the scene.
2) Dynamic description of the scene: name the events or situations, realized or potential, that are present in or suggested by the scene.
3) Mental description: discuss the mental or perceptual state of the participants in the scene, or your own state as a witness of it.
For example:
1) I see a tree between two houses, and a tool-shed behind the tree.
I also see a man near the tree with a chain-saw, and another man at some distance.
2) The man with the chain-saw cuts down the tree. It falls on the tool-shed and destroys it completely.
3) I infer that before the scene, the men did not think of this outcome, and that after, they had some lively discussions. I also infer that the man watching was the owner of the tool-shed, and that he was enraged, while the handy-man was profoundly embarrassed.
That is the first part of this week's homework, the 'email' portion.
The second portion must be brought to the next class.
You will find it on this site, on the 'homework summary' page.
It is listed as the first assignment.
Please check this site again in a couple of days.
I will have posted some other material for you by then.

January 20th.

Today, we will review last week's text about felling a tree.

We will learn how to interpret corrections on a written assignment,

and the meaning of 'CO', 'WC', 'CT', and so on.

We will discuss the brief homework assignment (making up sample sentences containing specific expressions of time).

We will attempt to describe another clip, after discussing the Conjugation Box in more detail. 

We will then do some reading... out loud, to explore the accent placement rules.

Notice the doublet of the day: 'to invent X' vs. 'to make X up / to make up X', 'an invented X' vs. 'a made-up X'.




Here is the General Course Outline.

Here is a brief tutorial on the four types of verbs relevant to the choice of Gerundive vs. Infinitival complements.

Here is a text a friend sent me recently. It is about the many uses of the preposition-cum-adverbial particle 'up'.

Sample exercise from previous semesters: matching time expressions with conjugations... the correction-key suggests 'best answers', and points out other answers that are possible but less credible.


Review of the relationship between suffixation and accentuation of English words.

Reminder: write to me at any time at
and do not hesitate to visit Diethild's blog!