Here is the first part of the list of tasks for all students to work toward completing during the Fall 2008 Semester. These tasks are like the Megabosses (the big bad guys) at the end of a level in a video game.
You cannot move on to #2 until you have completed #1. If you fail to succeed at #1, you need to try again, but cannot try again until the next class. In that way, this course is like a video game: you have to go to level two only after you pass level 1.
It is in your interests to work on finishing the tasks as soon as possible, since they get harder and harder as they go along. This means you will need more time to finish later tasks, and the last few tasks in the list (something like tasks #16-20) will require a LOT of time and cooperation from other students.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to start working on Task #1 right away.
Partial Task List for English Listening & Speaking:
Introduce yourself to to the class, while explaining what it is you hope to learn from the course, develop in the course, or get out of the course, and why you want that. It should be interesting and memorable.
Tell the class a funny story which is also a true story. It has to be a true story (though you can “stretch the truth”), a good story, and it has to make us (ie. me) laugh at least ten times in five minutes or less. Your job here is to be funny by whatever means available to you.
Upload a video of yourself “ranting” (that is, complaining in a conversational, not an academic way) about something that bothers you. It could be your noisy neighbor, a problem with your parents, or anything at all. But remember, it will be on Youtube forever! So carefully choose something you don’t mind other people seeing! You rant must be at least eight minutes long, and you must not stop talking for more than three seconds at any point. (You are, however, allowed to breathe.)
Listen to an episode of This American Life, a famous radio show that is podcast here. (You can listen to older episodes here.) This American Life usually features three or four interesting stories; choose one and write about your own reaction: why you loved or hated the story, what were the most interested sentences or words used, and what questions you wanted to ask the speaker after listening. Then record your own mp3 of a response to the person’s story. You can mix music and other sound effects into the mp3. For mixing, you can use the software Audacity (download it here) or any other software you like. Warning: the sound quality must be good. Terrible sound means you’ll have to try again! Warning: this story will be podcast from our site, and will be permanently archived on a web archive. It will not disappear from the web after the class ends, so make sure it’s good, and it’s something you don’t mind making public!Also, make sure you make a reference to the episode you’re responding to!
Now, create your own mp3 in the style of This American Life. You should tell a funny story — your own, or the story of someone else you know. This story will be mixed with other students stories, three or four at a time, and podcast. Again, it will be put online forever, so don’t tell a story you don’t want permanently available in the world. But choose your funniest, most interesting story possible. If it’s boring, you’ll just have to try again! Make sure to include music you are legally allowed to use. Come talk to me if you don’t know what I mean by that.
Collaborate with another student. You will walk around campus with the other student videotaping you, and you will speak ONLY in English to everyone you meet. You must try to get them to talk to you in English. When they do, you should interview them about whatever subject you find interesting. Your video should include both the interviews, but also the experience of walking around speaking only in English, and people’s reactions to it. By the way — you should not bug anyone who works at the University. Don’t visit professors or your friends to get this done: just walk around and try to talk to regular students and strangers — people who, like you, are not native speakers of English. Feel free to pretend you are a foreign student and cannot speak Korean, if you like. Also, you must only talk to the camera person in English. (The camera person can speak any language he or she wants.) At the end of your experiment, you will have a lot of footage. Choose the most interesting parts and make a video of at least 20 minutes long with these interesting parts, and add a short summary of your experience as a “English speaker” on campus, and how you feel about it.
These are only the first six tasks on the list. The later tasks will be even harder, so make sure to start working now: you’ll need more time for the later tasks.
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"For the correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting..."—Plutarch, "On Listening," Moralia
This is the website for Prof. Gord Sellar. It back up and running, though it is supplemented by the proprietary Blackboard course management system used the university where he works.