Overview of ENGP8 Course Objectives
ENGP8 Introduction to American English is an introduction to
American English as the dominant variant of contemporary World English. It
reviews basic differences between 'standard' American and British English
(SAE/SBE) and presents a sociolinguistic overview of historical and
contemporary influences on American English. Topics include Black English
(aka AAVE or Ebonics), Yiddish (American Jewish) and Spanish influences,
the historical and contemporary roles of loan words and other lexical
markers, jargon and euphemisms, forbidden and profane language, and the
mixture of all these in U.S. sociocultural stereotyping.
The course presumption is that students will have a formal foundation
of British English, as would represent most Finnish students, as well as
students from other EU countries. Accordingly, the course begins
with an overview of principal differences between British and American
English, and thereafter reviews internal variations within American
Material is presented via class presentations in which examples are
contextualized in a narrative format, often referring to how
terms/concepts have been employed in the press, mass media or literature.
A large quantity of supporting material is available in the course
website, with additional materials occasionally circulated via the USA1-L
e-mail list. In addition to these, students are encouraged to contribute
examples of their own encounters with American English, especially those
on which there are questions for clarification.
Intended Use of the Class Web Materials
For each class meeting, there will be a basic web outline of points to be
covered during the class presentation. Students are encouraged to read
these before coming to the class, as well as using them for post-class
review. Note that the outlines are continually updated as new material
emerges and old material may become outdated, and may change post-class
from the pre-class version in accordance with what transpired in class.
Each outline links to a variety of supporting material, usually to more
than will be covered in class. This extra material should not be
considered 'required reading,' but as additional information on the
particular topic. Students may use details from this extra material (as
relevant) when answering exam questions, but exam questions themselves
will not address points that are only in the supporting material and have
not been covered in the regular classes.
The web materials are intended solely as support for the class
presentations; they are not intended to substitute for class
presentations. The outlines identify terms and concepts for which class
presentations will provide contextual explanations. As such, the outlines
will be useful references to the class presentations, but are not designed
to be used on their own.
Independent Student Work is Assumed for University Courses
As with most university-level courses, independent student work is assumed
outside the class meetings. Students are encouraged to read the course
web materials and also to relate the course content to their personal
experiences with American English when reading outside material, watching
television programs, viewing films, listening to popular music, etc. The
sharing of questions about terms encountered in such experiences, either
in class, via USA1-L, or directly to the teacher is welcomed.
Comments From Past Students On the Independent Work
Human nature being what it is, especially as students often take ENGP8 as
one of their first university courses, the following comments submitted by
past students on their Course
Evaluation Forms may be useful. (Some of the forms had been submitted
after classes had concluded, but prior to the exam.)
- I realized over halfway through the course the amount of reading and
independent study that I should have done during the course. I wasn't
quite able to catch up the way I would have liked, but hopefully my effort
was enough to land me a decent mark.
- I started the preparation too late, as I did not first realise
there was so much reference material in the web. When I got more into the
subject and got more interested, I realised there was no longer enough
time for everything. But that was my own foolishness . . . After the break
I spent time reading the materials online after classes and that really
helped in getting an overall picture.
- I should have done more work from the beginning, but instead I did
most of the work during the last week before the exam. Lectures were good,
but of course, that isn't enough independent work is necessary. I
must say that I truly understood some things only a few days before the
- As a first-year-student I had wished that the amount of independent
work expected would have been clarified in the beginning of the course.
I'm a bit ashamed of the pathetic little work I did for the course
to be honest, I only attended the classes. This, of course, had its effect
on the work I needed to to do before the exam. Now I am wiser, and if I
was to begin the course again now, I would do a lot more work also during
Course References Index
Last Updated 12 December 2012