Graduate Studies

English as a Second Language

ESL for AS&E Graduate Students

Week 7

One problem that internationals tend to have is saying "no" in a clear, polite way. All cultures have some way of saying "no". But how often in any culture do we actually say "NO" when we mean "no"? Actually, fairly rarely. In English we tend to use expressions like "sorry, I don't have time", "I am busy that day", or "that would be fun, but I can't". Knowing these types of expressions can spare you a lot of social friction and misunderstandings.

A very common intelligibility problem is lack of clear focus word/intonation in speech. When we speak, we actually say certain parts of words much clearly and slowly than others. If your speech is very evenly timed, what you are saying may be unclear, even if your grammar and sounds are OK. We'll be practicing using focus words to make our speech more clear by coming up with some ideas to make small talk to students in labs.

This week's materials:

Due Dates of Assignments/Readings:

October 20, 2014 - Please submit homework_5 by midnight, October 19th to the instructor at

October 22, 2014 - No homework due before this class.

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