AEConv

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Advanced English Conversation (Spring 2020)


Prof. Kent Lee

Dept. English Language & Literature, Pukyong National University

Time: S. 103: Tue/Thu 12.00-13.15pm; S. 104: 15.00-16.15pm

Mailbox:

Office & office hours: by appointment

Syllabus: See the link in an LMS announcement.

This website will go along with my syllabus and materials in our LMS for this course, as well as materials that supplement my course book.


1 Weekly lessons

1.1 Assignments

Everyone should fill out the following Google Form, which asks for general information about you, and some survey questions about your attitudes toward English. If you are taking more than one course from me this semester, you only need to fill this out once.


Click on the 'Expand' button on the right to show past contents.

1.2 Week 3, Day 2

You can look at the handout, and view the lecture video. At times you will need to pause the video, think about the question, and talk to someone. You can arrange to talk to a classmate that you in the department, especially if you know someone taking this course. Otherwise, please find friends, classmates, or other persons, and discuss the questions with them.


Based on the MBTI, you will fall into one of sixteen personality types, e.g., INTP, ESFJ, INFP, etc. You should discuss your results with a partner or classmate. Think about these, and discuss whether you think this classification of your personality is accurate.


1.3 Week 4


1.4 Week 5


1.5 Week 6


1.6 Weeks 7-15

Lecture videos are available in the LMS or on my Youtube channel.


2 Midterm

Click on the 'Expand' button on the right to show past contents.

We have been talking about fallacies and misconceptions this semester, and lately we have been examining commercial advertisements and political examples. For the midterm, you will discuss some fallacies, misconceptions, or other problems, either in advertising, or in the politics of your country. This can be based on one of the topics of your previous recorded assignment on logical fallacies (the one that was due on 27 April), or a new topic, if you like. Your talk should be about 4-7 minutes long.

For example, you can discuss one of these problems in a particular area (of media, politics, or advertising):

  • Regular use of logical fallacies
  • Sexism, sexualization, sexual objectification: using women (or men) as sex objects in advertising
  • Sexism, racism, xenophobia (외국인 혐오(증)), homophobia, or other forms of discrimination - in popular media, politics, or advertising
  • Popular misconceptions that are exploited by popular media, advertisers, other companies, or politicians
  • Cognitive biases (We have not discussed this yet in the course, but you are welcome do try talking about this.)


Your talk can focus on one area, such as:

  • A particular type or area of advertising
  • A particular segment of the media, e.g., popular TV shows or movies, or more specifically, a particular genre such as comedy shows, dramas, or such
  • A particular group of politicians, political parties, or political groups
  • A particular segment of the general public, e.g. one that is targeted by media or politicians, or to whom such media / adverts / political discourse appeal


For this, you will record a video of yourself, in which you give a presentation about this. You can discuss examples from your own country, or a country and culture that you are familiar with (if you have lived elsewhere). You should not just discuss one example, but discuss several examples that illustrate a trend, tendency, or cultural problem. The number of examples will depend on your topic and how complex the examples are, but I would recommend at least three examples to develop your ideas. Summarize your examples briefly, and then analyze and critique them. Some possible points to discuss include:

  • The effects of these misuses of communication - e.g., how did the public or news media react, was it effective for the company or politician, was there a backlash (a reaction against it), or did it have any long-term negative effects for the company / product / politician / political party or for the culture?
  • Cultural attitudes, cultural problems, or the effects of this on the culture
  • How widespread these attitudes, problems, or misuse of language or communication are
  • Harmful or negative effects - why is this unhealthy, e.g., for the society or culture?
  • Possible solutions to this problem (Note: If you address this, then avoid common, vague or general solutions, and instead come up with some specific, unique ideas that could actually work.)


Due date
10 May (11:59pm)


General criteria
  • Your talk should be recorded and uploaded to the LMS assignment space for the midterm. Your talk should be about 4-7 minutes long.
  • Your talk should have clear, persuasive explanation, details, and examples.
  • Your talk should have a clear focus on a particular issue, problem, or area of media or politics.
  • Your talk should have clear main points or objectives.

You should refer to the video lectures from Week 7, where I talk about the midterm assignment and tips for speaking.

Grading will be based on the following criteria:

1. Rationale, goals, objectives Clear rationale & explanation for your application, e.g., specific objectives, goals, and personal potential; clear focus
2. Contents Sufficient overall contents & preparation; enough good contents for a two-minute personal statement
3. Support Sufficient details & explanations about your strengths, abilities, e.g., your personal and/or academic strengths, skills, accomplishments, and your future potential.
4. Details Sufficient details & explanations about your plans, objectives, e.g., your personal and/or academic strengths, skills, accomplishments; a persuasive explanation of your potential in carrying out your plans. For projects, this can also include, for example, details about your project, plans, rationale, feasibility, etc.
5. Clarity Clear explanations, easy to understand follow; clear wording & vocabulary
6. Organization Well-organized and structured, good flow; flow indicated by intro, transition words & expressions; clear intro and conclusion
7. Speaking & vocal delivery Clear, audible voices; clear speaking & delivery; good vocal volume & intonation; the presentation quality indicates adequate rehearsal and preparation; no excessive fillers, pauses (uh, um), pauses, unfinished sentences; good pace
8. Interaction with audience Eye contact, body language, posture, etc.
9. Value Overall personal, social, artistic, academic, practical, commercial, and/or scientific value & benefit of your application and/or project and/or plans; creativity and originality; feasibility of your plans or project
10. Effectiveness How effective is your talk; its persuasiveness and informativeness to members of a potential scholarship committee. I will also consider (1) how well you answered questions from the audience or interviewers; and (2) how audience members evaluated your presentation.


3 Final project: Popular misconceptions

For the final presentation, you will chose a popular misconception and present about it. See the popular misconceptions page for ideas, e.g.:

  • Urban legends, popular myths
  • Pseudoscience
  • Pop psychology
  • Stereotypes
  • Myths or misconceptions about science, medicine, health, etc.
  • Conspiracy theories


In your presentation, you will need to address the following points.

1. Background
  • Important details about the misconception, how many people / what kind of people believe it
  • The origins of the false belief.
  • How common is this belief in Korea, or elsewhere? What kind of people believe it?
  • However, keep this part reasonably brief, especially if it is a misconception that is fairly familiar or common (or one that I am familiar with).


2. Analysis
  • Why is this belief wrong? (Note - You may not need to spend too much time describing the misconception, or why it is wrong, if it is fairly well known (and I am familiar with a number of these), or if it is fairly obvious why it is wrong.)
  • Why is the topic important, why is this belief unhealthy, or what is the social value or importance of this issue?
  • Why do so many people believe in it? Why does it have popular appeal?


3. Solutions

Your proposed solutions can address one or more of these aspects. For the presentation, one specific idea will suffice, as it is difficult to cover this comprehensively in a short presentation.

  • Persuasion. For people who believe this misconception, it it possible to convince them of the truth? If so, how?
  • Awareness & prevention. How can we educate the public to prevent people from falling for it?
  • Intervention. How can we reach and persuade those who already believe it? How can it be debunked (shown why it is wrong) among believers? The emphasis here is not explaining fairly obvious reasons about why it is wrong, but how you would attempt to persuade people who actually believe in it.


Links


3.1 Criteria

  • Due date: 25 June
  • Length: 6-12 minutes
  • Format: Recorded video (any video forma), uploaded to the LMS assignment space


General criteria
  • Your talk should be recorded and uploaded to the LMS assignment space for the final.
  • Your talk should have clear, persuasive explanation, details, and examples.
  • Your talk should have a clear focus on a particular issue.
  • Your talk should have clear main points or objectives.


Grading

Grading will be based on the following criteria:

1. Rationale, goals, objectives Clear rationale & explanation for your application, e.g., specific objectives, goals, and personal potential; clear focus
2. Contents Sufficient overall contents & preparation; enough good contents for a two-minute personal statement
3. Support Sufficient details & explanations about your strengths, abilities, e.g., your personal and/or academic strengths, skills, accomplishments, and your future potential.
4. Details Sufficient details & explanations about your plans, objectives, e.g., your personal and/or academic strengths, skills, accomplishments; a persuasive explanation of your potential in carrying out your plans. For projects, this can also include, for example, details about your project, plans, rationale, feasibility, etc.
5. Clarity Clear explanations, easy to understand follow; clear wording & vocabulary
6. Organization Well-organized and structured, good flow; flow indicated by intro, transition words & expressions; clear intro and conclusion
7. Speaking & vocal delivery Clear, audible voices; clear speaking & delivery; good vocal volume & intonation; the presentation quality indicates adequate rehearsal and preparation; no excessive fillers, pauses (uh, um), pauses, unfinished sentences; good pace
8. Interaction with audience Eye contact, body language, posture, etc.
9. Value Overall personal, social, artistic, academic, practical, commercial, and/or scientific value & benefit of your application and/or project and/or plans; creativity and originality; feasibility of your plans or project
10. Effectiveness How effective is your talk; its persuasiveness and informativeness to members of a potential scholarship committee. I will also consider (1) how well you answered questions from the audience or interviewers; and (2) how audience members evaluated your presentation.


3.2 Resources

Below are some articles about why people believe in conspiracy theories and other false beliefs. These are secondary sources, but fairly professional. These articles can be helpful for a better analysis of the problem, or for possible solutions.

  1. Why Do People Believe Things that Aren’t True?, Psychology Today
  2. Scientists discover the reason people believe in conspiracy theories, The Independent
  3. Why Debunking Myths About Vaccines Hasn’t Convinced Dubious Parents, Harvard Business Review
  4. Who believes in conspiracies? New research offers a theory, EurekaAlert.com
  5. Secret success: Equations give calculations for keeping conspiracies quiet, The Guardian
  6. 5 Reasons Why People Stick to Their Beliefs, No Matter What, Psychology Today
  7. Do the spirits move you? (psychics, paranormal), Psychology Today
  8. Flat earth conspiracy theories, CNN.com
  9. Why we can't ignore conspiracy theories anymore, Time.com
  10. Why do some people believe in conspiracy theories?, Scientific American
  11. Why do so many people believe in conspiracy theories?, Time.com


Additional articles, e.g., on how science and health topics are misreported online or in the news media.

  1. https://www.chronicle.com/article/When-the-Media-Get-Science/150763 When the Media Get Science Research Wrong, University PR May Be the Culprit], Chronicle of Higher Education
  2. Study: half of the studies you read about in the news are wrong, Vox.com
  3. How the media warp science: the case of the sensationalised satnav, The Guardian
  4. This article won't change your mind, The Atlantic
  5. The Strange Origins of Urban Legends, The Atlantic
  6. Trump Needs Conspiracy Theories, The Atlantic
  7. How do scientists become cranks and doctors quacks?, Science-Based Medicine
  8. Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science, The Atlantic
  9. Are All Weight Loss Doctors Quacks?, Science20.com


The following are more academic, research-based articles from academic research journals; use these only if you really understand them.

  1. Belief in conspiracy theories: Basic principles of an emerging research domain, European Journal of Social Psychology
  2. Understanding Conspiracy Theories, Political Psychology
  3. Conspiracy Theories and the Paranoid Style(s) of Mass Opinion, American Journal of Political Science
  4. Effective Messages in Vaccine Promotion, Pediatrics
  5. The psychology of conspiracy theories, Current Directions in Psychological Science
  6. Nothing but the truth: Are the media as bad at communicating science as scientists fear?, EMBO Reports
  7. Neuromyths in Music Education, Frontiers in Psychology


3.3 Related assignments

The end is coming... And we need to get ready for the final presentation. So I will ask you to do a couple or a few short assignments to help you prepare for the final presentation. For the final, you will record and upload a presentation of, say, 5-10 minutes about a common misconception (e.g., a fallacy, pseudoscience, conspiracy theory, urban legend, etc.). This is described on the course website, and there are links there to more helpful info.

3.3.1 Final prep, part 1

Before that is due near the end of June, I am asking you do to a few short speaking assignments, of 1-2 minutes, which you will upload here. Each of these short assignments is worth ten points. For this first one, your topic is:

  • What kind of topic would you like to do for your final presentation, and why?
  • Record an informal explanation of a possible choice for your final project and upload it here.
  • Time: 1-2 minutes long
  • Format: Video (preferably, but audio is okay if you cannot do video)
  • Due date: 07 June

This is not an absolute commitment to your topic; if you realize that you cannot do it, you can contact me about changing it after 07 June.

3.3.2 Final prep, part 2

For this follow-up minor assignment, you will upload a short video in which you develop some details of your presentation. For this, you should address one or both of the following questions.

  1. For the topic that you have chosen, why is it important? What is the social value or importance of this topic? For example, why is it problematic or harmful if people believe the misconception that you have chosen for your topic?
  2. What is the appeal of this misconception? Why are people easily deceived, or why do they choose to believe it? What is so appealing about this belief?
  • Time: 1-3 minutes
  • Format: Uploaded video file (or audio)
  • Due: 14 June
  • Your video should be uploaded to the assignment space here.


3.4 Examples

Example #1.
I have created an essay as an example here. This is not exactly a serious misconception in the sense that we've talked about; it is a sort of misconception among children that adults use, though sometimes the Santa story may be used inappropriately. Here the issue is whether adults should teach children this myth, which is debatable. But this shows some of the elements needed for this paper.


Example #2

Overweight: Misconceptions

... People struggling with obesity or being overweight often suffer from low self-esteem and body image problems, which are only made worse when family members or classmates tell them that they simply need to lose weight. Such comments are not only unhelpful, but add to the stress and anxiety that they feel about themselves. Overweight people have come to accept a negative view of themselves, and society has also fallen for misguided ideas about overweight people, including negative views about overweight people being lazy, irresponsible, or morally deficient. However, psychology may offer us one way of dealing with these misperceptions. Graves (2015) describes the power of narrative, that is, a story that believers construct, which includes not only an historical account of how a conspiracy or hoax was supposedly carried out, but also an explanation of facts and events in their perspective. That is, the narrative explains how the conspiracy accomplished certain events, or why certain events are due to the alleged conspiracy. The narrative also provides conspiracy believers a sense of special understanding of what has happened and why, in their world. It is a psychological conceptual framework that provides them a sense of meaning and understanding. Graves suggest that the power of the narrative can also be turned around and used to educate the public about scientific truth and reality, for example, regarding vaccinations. This strategy can also be applied to correcting incorrect perceptions of overweight people.

In advocating for the dignity of overweight people, some alternative approaches can be taken. Friends and family members of overweight persons can be supportive by setting aside their negative stereotype and the negative explanations they have assumed for why the person is overweight. They can talk to the overweight person about specific negative beliefs that the overweight person has about herself/himself, and the negative messages s/he has been told, from outright fat-shaming to more subtle statements, e.g., that the person needs to try harder to lose weight. Friends and family can communicate their understanding to the overweight person, and reassure the person that s/he is not lazy or morally deficient, and that s/he has a legitimate health condition. Regardless of that person became overweight, s/he has succumbed to a health condition that is difficult to overcome, which is a difficult situation that requires a more complex approach, including emotional support and positive lifestyle changes. Through conversations, friends and family can help to develop a more positive narrative about overweight people, and can help overweight people to develop more positive and realistic narratives about themselves. Non-overweight people can also stand up for overweight persons when others gossip or talk negatively to overweight people or about overweight people.

Specific elements of a more positive narrative may include the following messages. The overweight person may have developed unhealthy eating habits due to some form of stress. Experiencing fat-shaming, teasing, or condescending messages (like "you need to lose weight" or "you just need to try harder to lose weight") only adds to the stress, making it even harder to lose weight. Once the person has become overweight, it is very difficult to lose weight, especially if other emotional or life issues are not dealt with. It is not because of laziness that s/he is overweight and cannot lose weight. The person will find it easier to lose weight if s/he feels accepted or if s/he can deal with the sources of stress or depression in his/her life. When these messages are connected with a specific person (and his/her life or personal characteristics), this can form a more positive narrative - an explanatory story of how the person might have become overweight, the kind of person that s/he is, and how s/he might someday achieve better health.