ASEC students live with an American college student on the SNU campus.
At the Center for Applied Studies in English (ASEC), our goal is to prepare students to be successful in an American University. Because of this goal, the curriculum at ASEC is centered around the Academic Word List, which is a list of the most common words used at universities in all areas of study. Students study reading, writing, listening and speaking using academic vocabulary. Students learn new vocabulary in their vocabulary classes. Then they read using that vocabulary in the reading hour. Next, they use the ideas and vocabulary to write academic texts. Finally, students revise and edit using grammar techniques. In this way, students use the same vocabulary in many different ways so that their academic vocabulary is fully developed by the time they finish ASEC. The following information tells in more detail in what ways academic skills are built at ASEC.
In the vocabulary classes, students study the word definitions as well as prefixes, suffixes, and word roots associated with those words. Then students also learn the connotations, collocations, parts of speech, and pronunciation. They practice using the words through visual, aural/oral, and haptic activities. Students play games, work on pair or group activities as well as do practice exercises and discuss with the new vocabulary.
During the reading hour, students read texts written with the vocabulary studied previously from the word list. These texts are academic texts which will help students to prepare for dealing with readings in their classes after they finish their intensive English classes. The students not only practice reading but they learn to participate in group and pair work and to participate in class discussions about the readings, which are activities they will be required to do after English classes. The main texts for the lower and intermediate classes are called Inside Reading, published by Oxford University Press. The upper level classes use Inside Reading as well as authentic texts and excerpts from university class work. In addition, research shows that rhythm can enhance students’ reading comprehension as well as their speaking comprehensibility to Americans, and so pronunciation practice is a regular part of reading and discussion activities. Furthermore, students read orally during class in order to practice their word stress, intonation, or enunciation.
Each student has an American college student as a mentor who will practice English speaking and introduce ASEC students to other SNU students.
As well as working on reading comprehension during their reading hour, ASEC students also learn how to recognize the developmental structure of academic texts. This study may focus on relationships established by transitions or demonstrative adjectives or one of many other discourse features important to developing good writing skills. Students read and analyze essays and texts which demonstrate the genre of writing they are working on in their composition classrooms.
In the composition hour, students learn to write the types of compositions they will be called upon to produce in future classes. Each level focuses on three or four particular types of texts and the specific discourse features those texts commonly have. Students are taught these features and how to manipulate them as they produce a text. An example of features taught are: how to express opinion without using the words I believe or I think by using modals such as “should” instead; they might learn how to rotate nouns with pronouns and synonyms to increase interest and cohesion. For each level, new skills are taught and added to those learned at previous levels so that by the end of the coursework, students have a host of techniques for each type of text they will have to produce in the future. As students discuss their texts and read them aloud, they get to practice working collaboratively. Such discussions help students better understand the ambiguities in their own writing and also cause students to use their English in critical thinking.
Following the composition class, students work on adding grammar to the text they wrote in composition class. New grammar is used according to what type of text has been written and what grammar is common to that type of text. Editing techniques are also taught during the grammar hour to focus on the specific problems in grammar accuracy that each student is having in their writing process. Students develop a common-mistakes list with the help of the teacher and, then learn how to eliminate these mistakes from future compositions. Next, students learn techniques to help them find
All ASEC students have an American host family to help them see real American culture.
their own mistakes. Working with the writing teacher in a one-to-one tutoring situation, gives students the opportunity to speak English with a native speaker focusing on accuracy in their grammar.
During listening class, students use materials at their own level or at any other level they prefer. They have their daily work checked without being graded so that if they want to try new, harder material, their grades will not suffer. Also, this allows them to work with the listening teacher to identify what skills they need to work on and what they have accomplished. This class is not just for practicing listening. They may practice dialog listening, listening to lectures as well as work on their listening as it relates to pronunciation. Even though students work on pronunciation in their reading classes, many of them want extra practice and the listening class provides time, material, and one-to-one teacher time if students choose to practice pronunciation rather than listening.
The last hour of the day is an intensive reading hour. Research shows that students who are good readers become more proficient writers. By allowing students to read novels and other types of genres, students learn to enjoy reading in a second language. Students get to choose the topic to read, and this often helps them to comprehend much better and retain more main ideas and important vocabulary. This fun reading also gives students opportunities to see the vocabulary they have studied in their vocabulary classes used in non-academic contexts so that they will begin to use new vocabulary in social situations outside of class.
One hour outside of class is required each week in which students must speak with Americans. Students might report on time spent with their American mentor or host family. Some write about interchanges they have with their American roommate. Others attend a weekly conversation café where they have opportunities to speak with Americans in a non-collegiate atmosphere. Others visits American friends' homes or go shopping or to a movie for part of their fulfillment of the five hours with Americans. Furthermore, regular field trips offer students chances to meet Americans and learn about the cultural characteristics of the USA and Oklahoma in particular.