EFS 693A - STANFORD UNIVERSITY
Notes Week 8 - 2
I. Warmup. Thanksgiving. What does it mean? Where does it come from? How is it celebrated?
II. Homework review
A. CNN Student News discussion
B. FlashACE discussion
III. Listening to conversation: Friends Thanksgiving episode. See http://www.friends-tv.org/zz508.html.
A. Warmup: What do you know about Friends?
B. Watch episode till the end
C. Review & discuss
Listening to Conversations
What makes listening to conversation hard?
Also, preparing your contribution, if a participant (flip side: you’ll become better at speaking if you can make your listening more automatic)
Listening to TV Comedies
Comedy shows are very popular on American television. There are dozens of them on during the week, and they provide us with a way of laughing at ourselves.
Being able to understand a comedy show in another culture is an impressive feat. It takes time and keen observation skills to note which parts are supposed to be funny before you hear the laughter from the studio audience.
Comedy shows tend to fall into groups. Most programs can be divided into one of three types: friend shows, family shows and work shows. A few cut across two or all three types. Common themes are friend/friend, boy/girl, husband/wife, parent/child, worker/co-worker and worker/boss relationships. Some shows have an ethnic basis to their humor, some have regional humor, and some have humor based on social class.
Often, a comedy episode revolves around a single problem or theme which is set in the first few minutes of the show. Attempts to resolve the problem may be unsuccessful at first, which is often where the humor comes in. Some shows have multiple problems or themes which evolve more or less in parallel, making a more complex plot to follow.
Besides their general value for practice in listening to casual conversation, comedies are useful to watch for enjoyment just to get some additional insight into aspects of American culture. To get the most out of listening to comedy shows, there are a few points you should keep in mind.
1) Because a lot of the humor in the show is cultural, be prepared not to understand why something is funny. If you can, take notes and try to think about them. If possible, ask a native speaker why something was funny.
2) Many of the jokes depend on understanding the characters, both their individual personalities and their patterns of interaction with other characters. In order to appreciate this part of the humor, you need to watch a number of different episodes. A good strategy is to find an older show that is rerun every day instead of only once a week or that is available on DVDs (like Friends: see below).
3) Although commercials can be fun and useful practice themselves, they are meant to be distracting. Mute the TV (turn off the sound) during commercials, reflect on what you’ve just watched, and predict what you think will happen next. If someone else is there with you, you can talk about the show at this time (preferably in English)
4) Finally, there is a lot of variation in the language difficulty among comedy shows. Try to find one or two that you enjoy but can follow best. If you have to have the captioning on to understand at all, then the show is of questionable value for language learning.
One of the most useful shows for improving listening is Friends. It's on every weeknight twice on KTVU Channel 2, at 6:30 and 7:00. DVDs (both new and used) are easy to find and not too expensive.
You can get the transcripts for Friends and a number of other TV shows at www.script-o-rama.com. The scripts will be particularly helpful if you can record the shows and listen to them using some of the techniques we've discussed in class. You can find the name of the episode (so that you can get the right script) at www.tvguide.com.
Homework: Reminder - there are no classes next week. The following week we will only meet on Tuesday (no class Thursday). Classes on Tuesday November 27 and Tuesday December 4 will be 9:00-10:45.
1. Do FlashACE Advanced 2 and 3: www.stanford.edu/dept/lc/efs/FlashACE/. Send a report in which you a) describe the procedure you used for going through each exercise and b) comment on what listening skills this material + your procedure support.
2. Go to www.pbs.org/saf/previous.htm and find the link for "Hot Planet - Cold Comfort". Then view the three video segments. View them on three different days. Take notes and use the notes to write a paragraph summarizing each segment (3 paragraphs total). You may use the transcript if you need to for assistance in understanding but remember this is a listening exercise, not reading. Do not copy parts of the transcript into your report: the summary should be entirely in your own words.
3. Send me your report of (1) and (2) by Sunday December 2 at 8:00 PM.