ESL Reading

Course Syllabus

Department of Linguistics
570 EPB, 335-0209
Iowa City, IA 52240

Instructor: Jane Gressang
Office: 576 EPB (in the stairwell)
Office Hours: 9:30-10:30 am MW, 1:30-2:30 T, or by appointment
Office Phone: 335-0216 (not the best way to reach me)

ESL Supervisor: Maureen Burke, 38 Macbride Hall, 335-5630
Office hours: By appointment

Course Supervisor: Sue Almén-Whittaker, 38 Macbride Hall, 335-2882
Office hours: 8:30-9:20 T,W,R in 38 MH

Required Books:
Langan, John. (1999). Ten Steps to Advancing College Reading Skills: Third Edition. Marlton, NJ: Townsend Press.

Asimov, Isaac. (1957). The Naked Sun. New York, NY: Bantam Spectra Books.

The books above are available at the IMU bookstore. Please bring the books to every class unless otherwise instructed.

A good English/ English Dictionary

Course Goal:
The goal of this course is to provide you with the reading skills necessary to be a confident and independent reader, and to help you improve your comprehension of written English in order to compete successfully in an academic program.

Course Skills on which we will focus:
• increasing vocabulary
• identifying main ideas
• guessing the meaning of new words in context
•scanning and skimming
• reading critically
•determining fact vs. opinion
• analyzing structures
• making inferences

Class Activities:
• lecture, explanation, and discussion
•practice exercises and quizzes
• group and pair work
•oral presentations
• individual conferences with the instructor

Major Assignments:
Note: According to University policy, students should expect to spend two hours per semester hour per week preparing for class sessions. This means that in a three-credit course such as this, standard out-of-class weekly preparation should be six hours.

Homework: Short, informal assignments reflecting the current topic will be due periodically throughout the semester. Homework must be turned in on its due date. Late homework will not receive full credit. Your grade will drop one letter grade for every class period which your assignment is late. If you have an excused absence, you may have until the next class meeting to turn it in depending on circumstances.

Reading and Reading Logs: You are required to read a book “for pleasure” for at least one hour every week outside of class and keep logs of what you read. The log sheets will be provided and explained later. You will also be required to attend at least one book conference with me to discuss your reading. “Reading for pleasure” does not mean reading articles and material you are required to read for other classes! The best way for you to improve your reading skills and increase your vocabulary is to read more in English! The more you read, the more you will improve.

Quizzes: You will complete short, in-class quizzes over the content of the current textbook and current novel selection.

Novel Presentations: Each student will be responsible for presenting a selection of the novel. This presentation will consist of: (1) producing a handout with study questions to be turned in the Monday before the presentation, and (2) leading the class discussion on Friday. You will be assigned a presentation date and provided with more detailed requirements soon.

Midterm and Final Exams: You will have a cumulative midterm and a cumulative final exam in this class. The date of the midterm will be determined later. THE DATE AND TIME OF THE FINAL EXAM IS THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18TH AT 4:30 PM!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You must attend the final at this time, so do not make plans or travel arrangements that will cause you to miss the test. However, if you have (a) two final exams scheduled for the same period, or (b) more than three exams scheduled for the same day, you may file a request for a change of schedule at the Registration Center, 30 Calvin Hall. All such requests must be filed by 4:30 pm on Friday, November 21st.


Your final grade will be based on the following:
Attendance 5%
Homework 15%
Reading/ reading logs 15%
Quizzes 15%
Novel presentations 15%
Midterm 15%
Final 20%
Total: 100%

Grading scale:
(note that +/- grades will be used)
A+ 97-100%
A 93-96
A- 90-92
B+ 87-89
B 83-86
B- 80-82
C+ 77-79

Student Rights and Responsibilities:

Complaints: All students in the College have specific rights and responsibilities. You have the right to adjudication of any complaints you have about classroom activities or instructor actions. If you have concerns about any aspect of the course, please see me first if you feel comfortable doing so. If we cannot resolve your concern, then please make an appointment with the Course Supervisor, Sue Almén-Whittaker, 38 Macbride Hall, 335-2882. If there is still no satisfactory resolution, please contact professor Catherine Ringen, Department of Linguistics, 570 EPB, 335-0209. Any complaints not resolved within the department will be referred to the College of Liberal Arts. (These procedures are detailed in the Liberal Arts section of the Schedule of Courses, on the bulletin board opposite the Linguistics Departmental office (570 EPB), and online (

Students with disabilities: You also have the right to expect a classroom environment that enables you to learn, including modifications if you have a disability. I need to hear from anyone who has a disability, which may require some modification of the seating, testing, or other class requirements so that appropriate arrangements may be made. Please contact me during my office hours.

Attendance: Your responsibilities to this class and to your education as a whole include attendance and participation. You are required to attend class every day. If you are ill and cannot attend a class, please contact me before the class you will miss by sending me an email. Missing class to attend a lecture, lab meeting, meeting with an advisor, etc. will not be considered an excused absence. (Oversleeping is not excused either!) Absences due to illness or emergencies will be excused. However, you may have two unexcused absences without affecting your grade. If you are more than ten minutes late for class, you will be counted as absent.

Cheating: You are also expected to be honest and honorable in your fulfillment of assignments and in test-taking situations (the College’s policy on plagiarism and cheating is on-line in the College’s Student Academic Handbook: All written assignments turned in must be your own original work, and be written in your own words. If you copy sentences directly from another source without giving credit to that source by using quotation marks and citing the article/website or book in a reference section, this will be considered cheating. You will get no credit for the assignment and may fail the class. Talking, looking at someone else’s paper, or providing answers to someone else during a test is also considered cheating, and your test may be discarded.

The University’s policy on plagiarism and cheating is as follows: A student who plagiarizes or cheats on any assignment in any course faces penalties that may include receiving an F on an assignment or in the course. If I suspect plagiarism and cheating, I am required by University policy to inform the student in writing and to send him or her a copy of the report that I submit to the Linguistics Department and/or the College.

Respect: You have a responsibility to the rest of the class—and to the instructor—to help create a classroom environment where all may learn. At the most basic level, this means that you will respect the other members of the class and the instructor, and treat them with the courtesy you hope to receive in turn.