English Speaking and Listening Skills

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This Course Guide has been taken from the most recent presentation of the course. It would be useful for reference purposes but please note that there may be updates for the following presentation.


English Speaking and Listening Skills

Welcome to ENGL A090 English Speaking and Listening Skills.

ENGL A090 is a one-semester, five-credit, pre-foundation-level course. It has been developed specifically for Hong Kong students to develop the basic speaking and listening skills necessary for most studies at Hong Kong Metropolitan University. These skills can also be applied to other situations. This course will, therefore, give you more confidence in taking part in a number of workplace and social activities, in which English is the medium of communication.

This Course Guide explains what the course is about and how to use your study material. It also gives you information about the tutorials and assessment. Please read it carefully before you begin Unit 1.

ENGL A090 English Speaking and Listening Skills is a self-study course with tutorial support. It provides you with a number of basic skills and strategies that will help you improve your understanding of spoken English and your ability to speak appropriately in a variety of situations in which English is the medium of communication.


Course aims

ENGL A090 English Speaking and Listening Skills aims to develop your:

  • understanding of the English language
  • listening and speaking skills in a number of different contexts
  • interest in activities that use English as the medium of communication.

Course learning outcomes

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Listen effectively to ideas in short talks, discussions, conversations, radio and TV broadcasts.
  2. Use aural skills to notice and understand feelings, attitudes, reasons and opinions.
  3. Use oral skills to talk about yourself and particular topics.
  4. Express feelings, attitudes, thoughts and opinions.
  5. Apply integrated language skills -- speaking and listening -- effectively in a short conversation and a discussion.

Course description

The content of the course is organized around six study units. Each is built around a different topic. These topics are outlined below.


Unit 1 Getting startedUnit 2 Having a conversation
This unit talks about 'studying at university'. It seeks to develop an understanding of the English language as a medium for learning as well as a means of communication. You are encouraged to talk about your reasons for study and identify the way you learn. You are introduced to different aspects of study and university life as well as some of the basic concepts of the course.In this unit, you are encouraged to talk about 'yourself'. You are asked to share personal information, make suggestions and give advice. You also look at the effect that feelings and attitudes have on the way you speak. All of this takes place in the context of a conversation. You are introduced to a number of conversation techniques, which you practise throughout the unit. The conversations take place in both a study and a work environment.
Unit 3 Describing and explainingUnit 4 Taking part in a discussion
This unit talks about 'Hong Kong'. You describe familiar people, places, objects and things. You also reflect on changes and trends that have occurred in recent years. Finally, you are asked to explain a traditional process and a number of common procedures. These skills take you beyond the need to merely state the bare facts about a topic. You are shown how to provide and/or take in 'enough' information in each situation. Although this unit is set in a social context, these skills are transferable to both study and work environments.This unit talks about 'health and safety'. It deals with current issues, such as healthy/unhealthy lifestyles, stress, and potential health hazards. You are introduced to appropriate discussion strategies that can be used in a variety of contexts. You learn how to successfully prepare for a discussion, get your message across and understand others' views. The discussions in this unit take place at university, work and in a social situation.
Unit 5 Listening to a talkUnit 6 Giving a talk
This unit talks about 'the environment'. It touches on environmental issues in general, the problem of pollution in Hong Kong and the benefits of recycling. Although predominantly focused on 'active' listening, you are encouraged to further practise your discussion and questioning strategies from previous units. You listen to a number of short talks given at university, work and in a social situation.In this unit, you are encouraged to talk about 'holidays and travel'. You learn the difference between a planned and an impromptu talk and are introduced to some general aspects of public speaking. You are led step-by-step through the process of planning and giving a short talk. You are also asked to evaluate another speaker's performance. These skills are seen as appropriate for both study and work. Both of these contexts are highlighted in this unit.


Course overview

The following table provides an overview of the course. It gives you a general idea of the amount of work involved and how the various assessment tasks fit into the overall schedule of work.


UnitTitleWeeksTutorialAssessment activity
(end of unit)
 Course orientation11 
1Getting started22 
2Having a conversation23Practice assignment
3Describing and explaining34Assignment 1
(Units 1-3)
4Taking part in a discussion25Compulsory speaking task
(Unit 4)
5Listening to a talk36 
6Giving a talk37&8Assignment 2
(Units 1-6)


The total study time for this course is approximately 150 hours over one semester (16 weeks). You need about eight hours each week to keep up with the course. This schedule includes an allowance to:

  • attend tutorials and a day school
  • complete the assignments
  • work through the practical activities in each unit.

Throughout this course you will use the following materials.

Course Guide The Course Guide contains everything you need to know about the course. Use this guide to find out about:
‧ the course aims and course learning outcomes
‧ how the course is structured
‧ how you should approach your studies
‧ how you will be assessed
‧ other useful information to help focus your studies.
Study units This course has six self-contained study units, each based on a different topic. Each unit requires two or three weeks of work.
Video The video content of the course is available on the OLE. You are asked to refer to it throughout the course.
Audio CDs The audio content of the course is available on the OLE. You are asked to refer to it throughout the course.
Assignment File The Assignment File contains one practice assignment and two true assignments. The procedures for submitting these assignments are explained at the beginning of this file.
Presentation schedule The presentation schedule is available on the OLE and includes a timetable that tells you when you need to submit your assignments. All of your assignments must be submitted to reach your tutor by their due date.
Dictionary You need to purchase a dictionary. We suggest:
Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English (1997) Oxford: Oxford University Press; or
Longman Active Study Dictionary (most recent edition) Harlow: Addison Wesley Longman; or
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (most recent edition) Harlow: Addison Wesley Longman.

The content of each study unit is presented in a number of different 'parts'. These are topic-based and arranged in a logical sequence of learning. To take best advantage of this approach, we suggest that you work through each study unit from the beginning to the end -- completing the various activities as you go.

Each study unit also contains the following:

Activities The activities are designed to help you apply what you have learned in a useful and practical way. Feedback on each activity can be found at the end of the unit. However, always try to think of your own answers to the activities before you look at the feedback! It's very important for you to form your own ideas.
The story As you read through the units, you begin to follow the story of three young people. Like you, they are distance learners and have to cope with the pressure of study and work. As they strive to be successful students, they also learn many new skills. Some of the story is in the study units, some of the story is on video, and some of it is on audio recordings. To follow the story, always start with the study unit. The instructions of the activities tell you what to do next.

In this course, you are assessed on the basis of assignments, a compulsory speaking task and an end-of-course listening examination.


Tutor-marked assignments

In this course there are two assignments. Each carries 15% of the total grade.

Each assignment is based on the knowledge, skills and strategies that you have gained in the study units. To get a good mark, you must demonstrate to your tutor that you can apply what you have learned. The study units include activities that allow you to develop these abilities.

The assignments also:

  • provide an opportunity to further practise your language skills and strategies
  • provide you with regular feedback from your tutor.

Compulsory speaking task

You will complete the task during the tutorial. Your attendance at that tutorial is required. It makes up 20% of your final grade. For details, please refer to the tutorial schedule. A letter concerning this task will also be sent to you a few weeks before the tutorial.



There will be a one-hour closed book listening examination, which will account for 50% of the total course assessment.


A few tips

Below are some useful tips about the assessment of this course.

  1. Complete all tasks
    If you want to pass the course, make sure that you complete all of the assessment tasks. To earn a pass grade you must achieve a pass in the continuous assessment component and a pass in the examination.
  1. Make other arrangements
    If, for some good reason, you are not able to complete the assignments, you must make other arrangements. To do this, you have to contact the Course Coordinator. Details of this procedure can be found in the  HKMU Student Handbook.

There will be 16 hours of tutorial support. You are urged to attend the tutorials.


An educational purpose

Tutorials have an educational purpose. They aim to provide:

  • a meeting place for you and other students to discuss issues and further develop your understanding of each unit
  • a place where your tutor can answer your questions immediately -- and help you on the path to success.

An opportunity to practise

Tutorials also provide you with a valuable opportunity to practise speaking and listening in English. Remember, the more you practise, the better you will become! It is much more fun to have a discussion, or carry out a conversation in a room full of other students than to try and achieve the same result in an isolated situation by yourself.


A few tips

Here are a few tips about tutorials.

  1. Avoid that lonely experience
    Distance learning involves working on your own. Many students find this a lonely experience and feel very isolated. But, you don't need to study alone! At the tutorial you will find other students who are just like you. You will often find they are having the same problems or want to discuss the same topic in more detail.
  1. Plan in advance
    You will find out in advance when and where the tutorials are to be held. Write this information in your diary, and promise yourself that you will attend all eight tutorials.
  1. Develop a relationship with your tutor
    Try and develop a relationship with your tutor. Speaking to your tutor face-to-face at a tutorial is a good place to start! It is your tutor's job to help you learn. He or she should:
    • mark and comment on your assignments,
    • keep an eye on your progress; and
    • assist you if you have any problems throughout the course.
    You in turn must communicate your learning needs to your tutor. For this reason, contact your tutor if you:
    • do not understand any part of the study units; or
    • have a question or problem with an assignment, or about the comments or grading of an assignment.

Day school

The course has one day school. It includes a session in which a guest speaker will share with you some tips for effective speaking and listening.



This course makes use of the Online Learning Environment (OLE). On this platform, you will find the multimedia components of the course as well as course news, schedules, study units and tutorial notes.

You can apply for assignment submission extensions through the OLE. You can also communicate with the tutor and other students through the OLE's discussion board.

Please remember that all course communication will be carried out electronically through the OLE and webmail. Therefore, make a habit of checking the OLE for ENGL A090 and your HKMU email account regularly.

Sue Deutscher is a full-time consultant in Melbourne, Australia, who specializes in producing education and training materials. She has 12 years of experience in the field of education and has taught English as a second language both in Australia and in Hong Kong. As a writer, editor and project manager, Sue has been actively involved in course design and development for the past five years. She has worked in a variety of media including print-based, audio, video, CD-ROM and online.

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