Vishal Soni · March 14, 2024

March 4, 2024


$0 – covered by City of Philadelphia

Class Description

This course designed to develop nonnative speaker oral skills that are relevant to establishing and maintaining direct conversation and communication with native speakers of English. The course focuses on a range of skillsets, including improving listening comprehension, participating in class discussions, understanding conversational strategies, giving group presentations, asking and answering questions, interacting effectively with native speakers, and improving through self-evaluation of speech. 

Intended Audience 

Adults learning English communication skills.

Class Material

Class learning materials will be provided in lecture and online through the course website. You will however need access to a computer, as well as to presentation design programs such as PowerPoint or Keynote. Students will be responsible for attaining their own materials for the final poster project. (Suggestion: Students are encouraged to purchase a language learner’s dictionary, such as the Longman Dictionary of American English. Also helpful is the Merriam Webster online dictionary (, which contains common pronunciations.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, students will be able to: 

  • Explore strategies for communicating effectively in a variety of academic and social situations, e.g., expressing an opinion, agreeing/disagreeing, asking for clarification, interrupting, etc.
  • Analyze the structures of language, the meaning behind these structures, and the pragmatic function of these structures in common social discourse structures 
  • Establish the most common conversational rules and expectations for maintaining a conversation in English, while also establishing students’ ability to repair communication breakdowns using specific strategies 
  • Rethink conversation as a give and take relationship, where one speaks but one must also listen in an active and concerted way 
  • Develop student skills and experience in academic speaking situations (i.e., presentations)

About the Instructor

Awilda Suero has been a social worker for the Public Defender’s office for 25 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and is working towards a Master’s degree in Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania. 




Norris Square Senior Center, Catholic Housing and Community Services, 2121 N. Howard Street, Philadelphia, Pa.19122


Tuesday and Thursday, 1-2:30 pm beginning May 6 – June 20, 2024

Class Content

Conversation Analysis. You will record a natural conversation between a native speaker and yourself (approximately 10 minutes). You will focus on the issue of Turn-Taking in conversation. Then you will discuss interesting features of the talk that stood out as problem spots (both for you as the participant/speaker and for the listeners in your group)

Listening Logs

You will keep a listening log, or oral journal, of your listening activities. There are 3 total logs that must be completed, each with a different focus. You will listen to conversations of others, between people that you overhear in cafés, people in dining halls, people at shopping centers, etc. While listening you will note things that happen that pertain to the prompt for that listening log, and you will then record your log. 

Native Speaker Survey & Poster Presentation 

This involves research on how native speakers express themselves and also on their opinions about academic and cultural topics. You will work in pairs to develop a project and conduct the research. You will then prepare a poster about the research. Each individual will present the research to other members of the class. Note that creativity will be key in these poster projects. You will want to transform your survey material into something that people will walk by and be interested in learning more about.

Dramatic Reenactment 

You will work together in groups to perform a reenactment of a scene from television or film. The scene that you are working will thus become an outlet through which you will practice expressing your communicative skills in a manner consistent with native speaker models. Remember, films and television are most successful when they mimic actual ways of communicating; otherwise, characters come across as fake or unbelievable. This makes this activity of reenactment a great tool for practicing how people actually use the language in moment-to-moment interaction. Students will contextualize the scene, perform the scene, and be prepared to discuss their performance. 

Impromptu Personal Speech 

For this assignment you will be asked to give an impromptu speech on a topic that has not been discussed at length within the course. You will be provided with the prompts a few days in advance, and you will be asked to prepare yourself for any of them. Topics will revolve around personal experiences, so everyone should have something to say that is original and worthy of sharing. The point of this assignment is to learn to speak in dynamic ways to more than one person at a time and also to develop skills for articulating your thoughts on yourself to others, both of which are useful skills in a multitude of academic and professional settings. The impromptu speech will be followed by a short Question and Answer session.

Class DateClass TopicAssignments for Assessment
Week 1
Class Introduction Conversational Activity Getting to Know You Self-Introductions
Week 2
Conversation ActivityListening Log 
Week 3Listening Log
Week 4Conversation ActivityDramatic Reenactments Part 1 
Week 5
Conversation ActivityDramatic Reenactments Part 2Impromptu Speech 
Week 6Listening LogDeveloping a Native Speaker Survey Partners Work on Survey Development & Finalization
Week 7Conversation ActivityImpromptu Presentation 
Week 8Conversation ActivityPoster Presentations

About Instructor

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