Advanced Listening and Vocabulary Development

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EFS 693B: Advanced Listening and Vocabulary Development, Spring 2020
Tuesdays 10:30-12:20
On Zoom

Phil Hubbard, Office 260-302G (Pigott Hall): All individual meetings will be in Zoom
Course website:

Introduction. EFS 693B is an advanced course in listening that can serve as a followup to EFS 693A or as an initial opportunity for you to work on listening and vocabulary development simultaneously. The course materials reflect both academic and non-academic language, but with more emphasis on the latter. In particular, we will be looking to significantly improve your ability to understand English language media such as radio, TV, and movies, and in particular the online streaming versions of these.

Course Description. The class will meet as a group online once a week for up to two hours. The Zoom meeting URL is at the top of this document. Note that 693B differs from other EFS courses that meet twice a week. Please come prepared for each class meeting, with your video on. In line with Stanford Language Center Policy, class meetings in Zoom will be recorded in order to provide equal access to students enrolled in the course. Please make sure you join the meeting in conditions (location, appearance, etc.) that are appropriate for class participation. Assignments may sometimes require you to create audio or video recordings of yourself, or with a group on Zoom.

An important reason for this once-a-week model is that listening is most effective when it is controlled by the listener, so the majority of your listening activities will be done outside of class. During class time we will discuss strategies for listening effectively, review the previous week's material and introduce new material for classroom practice and discussion, some of which will be completed independently in the following week. In addition to providing regular listening practice, a significant focus of the course is to help you become more efficient listeners and language learners through the application of techniques and strategies. Homework includes computer-based listening and vocabulary development tasks and individual listening/vocabulary projects. You should anticipate an average of 5-7 hours of homework per week, ideally distributed so that you are doing some listening or vocabulary work every day.

You will work with an increasing range of informational and persuasive audio and video texts, including news, documentaries, and popular as well as academic lectures. You will also expand your comprehension and critical analysis of movies, television, and online entertainment, with particular focus on increasing your vocabulary and improving your listening strategies.

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

         follow the main ideas and some details of a typical news story

         extract the plot from a television show or movie

         show increased skills in note taking

         analyze video content for persuasive elements, distinguishing fact from opinion and news from commentary

         recognize the purpose of accompanying visual and text information, noting how it can both facilitate and distract from comprehension, and adjust focus of attention accordingly

         utilize strategies for accommodating unfamiliar words and phrases without getting lost

         identify words and phrases that are useful to learn and then learn them

         engage effectively in critical discussions about content you have listened to

         write short summaries and critical commentaries of material

         show awareness of effective techniques and procedures for selecting and listening to recorded materials to improve your overall language proficiency

Individual Projects.  You will have individual listening projects beginning the third week, aimed at improving one or more specific areas of your listening. I will help you select materials that are interesting but also useful for improving your listening. You will report on this regularly through Canvas and in class--this will typically be about half of your weekly homework. As a part of this, you will be required to identify at least 25 new words and phrases per week and learn them. You will also meet with me individually at least five times during the quarter to discuss the individual projects and progress. Additional meetings may be arranged by mutual agreement.

Assessment. Assessment will be ongoing through class quizzes, feedback on individual projects, and online individual meetings, where you will be quizzed on your knowledge of words and phrases you have chosen to learn. Following current university policy, we do not anticipate an online final exam.

Criteria for Passing. EFS 693B is a three-unit course offered on a Satisfactory/No Credit basis, though like other EFS courses it may be taken for one or two units if that is all you have available (the workload is the same). Criteria for receiving the S (Satisfactory) grade include the following.


90% or better class attendance (i.e., you may miss no more than one class)

Active and cooperative participation in class activities

Completion of all homework assignments: note that these assignments are expected to be handed in on time through Canvas or prepared for in-class discussion

Completion of independent project assignments

Completion of meetings with the instructor

Demonstrating that you have learned and can explain the meanings of the vocabulary you are working on independently

Materials. There is no textbook for the course. All materials are provided by the instructor for free or through the website at and/or on the Canvas course site. Some of the external sites linked to have premium services that students may use optionally if they wish.

Schedule of Topics. Below is a list of topics typically covered in EFS 693B. Note that 1) most of this material will be online (even if it was originally broadcast or presented live) and 2) we may add or delete items from this as the course progresses.

Listening/vocabulary basics

Learning to listen

Identifying and learning vocabulary

Sound system overview

Understanding accents and dialects

Listening to improve skills

Listening to improve comprehension

Listening to improve language knowledge

Listening to improve language processing

Listening for information, entertainment and cultural understanding

Listening to news

Listening to movies

Listening to television and online comedies and dramas

The general approach will be to take a particular domain for language and present one or more samples of it. Through those samples, we will discuss strategies for both comprehending the language of that domain more effectively and using practice in that area to improve overall listening proficiency. Behind all of these domains is one area to which you can--and should--devote significant attention: vocabulary. We will regularly work toward increasing both the size of your vocabulary and your ability to deal with new words, making informed decisions about what to take the time to learn.

DISABILITY NOTICE: Students with Documented Disabilities: Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). Professional staff will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare an Accommodation Letter for faculty. Unless the student has a temporary disability, Accommodation letters are issued for the entire academic year. Students should contact the OAE as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations. The OAE is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk (phone: 723-1066, URL:

Last modified: April 6, 2020, by Phil Hubbard