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0817 Getting a School Class Schedule

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 817: Getting a School Class Schedule.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 817. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California. Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, whatever it is, when you're listening to this episode, that is what I say to you.

This episode, like all of our episodes, has a Learning Guide, a 10-page guide with a complete transcript of everything we say on this episode,. You can find that at eslpod.com.

This episode is a dialogue between Carlos and Marianne about going to school. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Carlos: Did you get your class schedule?

Marianne: Yeah. You?

Carlos: Yeah. Let’s see if we have any classes together. I have PE with Mr. Lopez and social studies with Ms. Walters. How about you?

Marianne: I have PE with Ms. Schwartz and social studies with Ms. Eng. Who do you have for geography? I’m taking it with Mr. Johnson.

Carlos: I’m not taking geography this semester. Who do you have for algebra? I have Ms. Abdul.

Marianne: I’m not taking algebra. I’m taking calculus. Who do you have for chemistry?

Carlos: I’m taking biology instead. This isn’t looking good. Do we even have lunch together? I’ve been assigned the first lunch period. You?

Marianne: I have the second lunch period. How is it possible that we don’t have any classes together?

Carlos: I have an idea. Are you taking band after school?

Marianne: No, you know I’m not musical. I’m taking drama.

Carlos: Drop drama and take band. That way, we’ll at least be able to hang out after school.

Marianne: And what am I supposed to play in the band when I’m tone deaf?

Carlos: Have you ever heard of the drums?

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with Carlos asking Marianne, “Did you get your class schedule?” Your “class schedule” is a list of all of the classes that a student will take, usually in junior high school and high school, sometimes in the younger grades. Students at the beginning of the year get a list of their classes, with the time the classes begin, the names of the teachers and so forth.

Marianne says, “Yeah,” an informal way of saying “yes.” “You?” meaning, “Did you?” Carlos says, “Yeah. Let's see if we have any classes together.” Let's see if we are in any of the same classes. He says, “I have PE with Mr. Lopez and social studies with Ms. Walters.” “PE” is short for physical education. Sometimes we call it simply “gym class.” It's a class designed to teach students to improve their physical strength, their physical health. “Social studies” is a general term we use in the United States to refer to a lot of different specific areas of study. History is the most common kind of social studies, but it could also include geography, economics, the study of government (what we might call “civics”), even anthropology in some schools. Social studies can cover a lot of different things. I have – or used to have – a license to teach high school social studies, which means I could teach history, economics, psychology, government, all sorts of things. I took classes in all sorts of those things myself when I was in college, though I don’t I think I would be a very good teacher of most of those subjects! Anyway, we're talking about the classes that Carlos has.

Marianne says, “I have PE with Ms. Schwartz and social studies with Ms. Eng,” meaning she is not in the same PE or social studies class as Carlos. Marianne says, “Who do you have for geography?” “Who do you have” means who is your teacher. “Geography” is the study of land areas and oceans of countries. It could be the physical geography. It could be the demographic information, information about the people in a certain country and so forth. Geography, as I mentioned before, is really one are within the larger area of social studies. But Marianne has a separate geography class. She has Mr. Johnson as her teacher. She says, “I'm taking it with Mr. Johnson.” To “take a class” means to be part of a class in school.

Carlos says, “I'm not taking geography this semester,” meaning I am not in a class of geography. “Semester” (semester) is one-half of a school year. Most school years are divided into two semesters. A school year, which in the United States is usually September to early June, can also be divided into quarters, but in most schools I think now they have semesters. In my high school, they did. So the year is divided into two parts. There are some classes that only are one semester long. You only take them a half a year. Other classes, you take the whole year, both semesters.

Carlos then asks Marianne, “Who do you have for algebra?” “Algebra” (algebra) is a type of mathematics where you study symbols and letters that represent numbers in what are called “equations”: n2 plus 3 = 12 – that might be an equation you would study in algebra. In different schools, algebra is taught in different grades, even in different states. Remember the American education system is very independent. Each state, each city, each area often has its own kinds of classes that it teaches. We don’t have a national list of classes that everyone has to take in a certain year. When I was in school, algebra wasn’t taught until the ninth grade, the first grade of high school, in my school. In many other schools, it is taught at an earlier grade or at an earlier age, perhaps seventh or eighth grade. Anyway, I didn’t like algebra. I really didn’t like algebra. I didn’t like my algebra teacher when I was a freshman and so I never really liked this subject. I forget what her name was…Mrs. Williams, I think. Carlos has Ms. Abdul as his algebra teacher.

Marianne says, “I'm not taking algebra. I'm taking calculus.” “Calculus” (calculus) is usually a math class you take after algebra. It's more complicated. It's typically more complex, more difficult than algebra. I took calculus also when I was a senior, my last year in high school and I also hated it. And guess what? I had the same teacher! Marianne says, “Who do you have for chemistry?” “Chemistry” (chemistry) is the study of elements and substances that things are made of – hydrogen, oxygen, carbon. In chemistry, you study these substances and analyze them. I took chemistry when I was a junior in high school. I kind of like chemistry, actually. I had a teacher who I more or less liked, so chemistry was good.

Carlos says, “I'm taking biology instead,” meaning he’s not taking chemistry. He’s taking “biology” (biology). Biology is the study of different forms of life, a study of what we might call living organisms. I took biology when I was a sophomore, my second year of high school and I did not like it. The teacher was okay. I just – I don’t know, didn’t like it for some reason – don’t like blood! Carlos says, “This isn't looking good,” meaning it doesn’t look like the two of them will have any classes together. He asks, “Do we even have lunch together (our lunch break)? I've been assigned the first lunch period.” To be “assigned” (assigned) means to be put into a certain group. You don’t really have a choice about it. Someone else decides this is where you're going to go. In this case, Carlos has been assigned to the first lunch period, the time and the day when people, students, stop and eat lunch. He says, “You?” meaning, “What about you?”

Marianne says, “I have the second lunch period. How is it possible that we don’t have any classes together?” Carlos says, “I have an idea. Are you taking band after school?” “Band” (band) is when a group of people get together and play musical instruments together. Many schools, especially high schools, have a band, a group of students who play musical instruments at sporting games and that sort of thing. Well, Carlos asks if Marianne is taking band after school. A lot of schools have classes after the end of the day, extra classes and things that aren't really academic or school subjects.

Marianne says, “No, you know I'm not musical,” meaning I don’t have any talent when it comes to music. She says, “I'm taking drama.” “Drama” (drama) is acting usually in a theater in a play.

Carlos says, “Drop drama and take band.” To “drop” something means to decide not to take a class. In American schools, you can “add” (add) a class, meaning you can decide to take a class or you can drop a class. “To drop” a class means to not have it on your schedule anymore, not to take it. Carlos wants Marianne to drop drama and take band instead. “That way, we'll at least be able to hang out after school.” To “hang (hang) out (out)” is a phrasal verb meaning to spend time with another person in a relaxed comfortable way, maybe going to a movie or just going to a place to read or to talk or to have something to drink, to a café. That would be to hang out. You're not doing anything special.

Marianne says, “And what am I supposed to play in the band when I'm tone deaf?” Marianne is asking how she can play a musical instrument if she’s “tone (tone) deaf(deaf).” A person who is “tone deaf” is unable to hear the differences between musical tones, musical notes, and that would make it very difficult for them to play a musical instrument.

Carlos says, “Have you ever heard of the drums?” A “drum” (drum) is a musical instrument that has a rhythmic beating sound when you hit it with a stick. However, drums are also made to sound or play different notes, so I'm not sure if that’s really going to help for Marianne.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Carlos: Did you get your class schedule?

Marianne: Yeah. You?

Carlos: Yeah. Let’s see if we have any classes together. I have PE with Mr. Lopez and social studies with Ms. Walters. How about you?

Marianne: I have PE with Ms. Schwartz and social studies with Ms. Eng. Who do you have for geography? I’m taking it with Mr. Johnson.

Carlos: I’m not taking geography this semester. Who do you have for algebra? I have Ms. Abdul.

Marianne: I’m not taking algebra. I’m taking calculus. Who do you have for chemistry?

Carlos: I’m taking biology instead. This isn’t looking good. Do we even have lunch together? I’ve been assigned the first lunch period. You?

Marianne: I have the second lunch period. How is it possible that we don’t have any classes together?

Carlos: I have an idea. Are you taking band after school?

Marianne: No, you know I’m not musical. I’m taking drama.

Carlos: Drop drama and take band. That way, we’ll at least be able to hang out after school.

Marianne: And what am I supposed to play in the band when I’m tone deaf?

Carlos: Have you ever heard of the drums?

[end of dialogue]

Our scriptwriter can write about all different school subjects. That’s because it's the wonderful, intelligent Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan, not very intelligent. I hope you come back and listen to us again, however, here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan, copyright 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
class schedule – a list of all the classes a student will take, including where and when the classes are held and who will teach them

* In her last year of high school, Jemima had physics and world history on her class schedule.

PE – physical education; gym; a class designed to teach students to improve their strength, endurance, flexibility, and physical health by teaching them to do exercises and play sports

* Today, the entire class played basketball in PE.

social studies – a class that study relationships between people and society, such as history, civics (government), anthropology (culture), geography, economics, and more

* In social studies, the students have to write detailed reports on important historical events.

geography – the study of land areas, oceans, continents, countries, mountains, rivers, lakes, and more, and how human activity relates to physical features of the planet

* Have you memorized the capitals of all the countries in Asia and Africa for this Friday’s geography test?

semester – half of a school year, usually with the fall semester from September through December and the spring semester from January through May

* Do you think you’ll be able to graduate in just two more semesters?

algebra – a type of mathematics where letters or other symbols represent numeric values in equations and formulas

* This week, our algebra teacher taught us how to factor polynomial equations.

calculus – a type of mathematics that studies change and the area under a curve through the use of derivatives, integrals, limits, functions, and infinite series

* Calculus lets us calculate velocity as the derivative of an object’s displacement.

chemistry – the study of substances and the elements that they are made of

* In chemistry, students refer to substances by their chemical composition, so water is H2O and salt is NaCl.

biology – the study of forms of life; the study of living organisms

* Is it important for biology students to memorize the Latin names for the plants and animals they’re studying?

to assign – to put someone in a particular group; to give someone a job or place in an organization

* All of the best engineers were assigned to the bridge design project.

lunch period – the period of time in the middle of the day when students have a break from classes and can eat lunch

* I wasn’t able to finish the homework last night, but I think I’ll be able to do it during the lunch period before it’s due in the afternoon.

band – a group of people who play musical instruments together and/or a class designed to teach students to play musical instruments together

* The band has a lot of trumpet players, but not very many people who can play the French horn.

musical – with musical talent; able to play an instrument and/or sing; able to create music

* Gregory is so musical! He already plays the harp, violin, cello, and piano, and now he’s teaching himself to play the trombone.

drama – acting; theatre; the art and practice of performing in films, TV shows, plays, and musicals

* Albert loved participating in high school drama. He played the role of Lancelot in Camelot.

to drop – to decide not to take a class and remove it from one’s schedule

* Why are so many people dropping organic chemistry? Is it really that difficult?

to hang out – to spend time in a relaxed, comfortable way with another person, without any particular purpose

* Do you want to hang out this weekend?

tone deaf – unable to hear the differences between musical tones and notes

* Andrea is an awful singer, because he is tone deaf.

drum – one of many instruments that produces rhythmic, beating sounds when hit with a stick or with one’s hand

* Lyla likes base drums and snare drums, but the cymbals are her favorite percussion instrument.

Comprehension Questions
1. Why are they unhappy about their class schedule?
a) Because they don’t like their teachers.
b) Because they want to be in classes together.
c) Because the classes are too difficult.

2. Which of these subjects is most closely related to social studies?
a) PE.
b) Geography.
c) Algebra.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
assign

The verb “to assign,” in this podcast, means to put someone in a particular group, job, or organization: “I wish Ricardo had been assigned to our team.” The verb “to assign” can also mean to give someone a particular project or task: “The teacher assigned 20 math problems as homework.” An “assignment” is some task that must be completed, especially as homework: “It isn’t fair for teachers to give us so many assignments!” Sometimes the verb “to assign” means to give something a particular value or meaning: “In these equations, we’ve assigned x to represent the number of units sold.” Finally, the verb “to assign” can mean to designate something for use by a particular person: “Management is assigning all available resources to the Acme project.” Or, “These servers have been assigned to the data mining project.”

band

In this podcast, the word “band” means a group of people who play musical instruments together and/or a class designed to teach students to play musical instruments together: “Did you go to the hear the band concert last night?” A “wedding band” is a wedding ring, or the small piece of metal worn around one’s finger as jewelry, usually without precious stones: “They decided to get platinum wedding bands instead of gold ones.” A “band” can also be a stripe or a narrow horizontal area that is different than the surrounding area: “How many colored bands are on a typical zebra?” Finally, a “Band-Aid” is a brand name for an adhesive bandage worn to protect a small injury and keep it clean: “I’m bleeding! Do we have any Band-Aids?”

Culture Note
High School Electives

High school students are required to take “core” (basic; fundamental) courses. These usually include English, mathematics, history, and sciences, but they can also choose many “electives” (courses that are chosen, but not required of all students).

A lot of electives are in the arts. These can include classes in art history, art creation, “choir” (singing), band, and drama. Other electives are in foreign languages and “home economics” (learning to cook, sew, and budget for a family). Traditionally, male students have chosen electives in “woodworking” (making things out of wood), “metal shop” (making things out of metal), “drafting” (making drawings or plans for building things) and “automotive repair” (fixing cars), although that is changing in many schools.

Students who are “college-bound” (planning to go to college) might “sign up for” (register for; enroll in) challenging electives like “AP” (Advanced Placement, allowing high school students to receive college credit) courses in core subjects. These students choose to take more than the required number of years of math, English, sciences, and other traditional subjects.

Schools are “increasingly” (more and more often) offering electives in computer sciences. These electives could teach students how to use computers or how to write in programming languages. Some electives focus on business “applications” (uses) of computer technology.

Still other electives give students “open study,” or a period of time when they can “pursue” (follow) studies that interest them, often writing a report at the end of the semester. These students are working “under the supervision of” (under the guidance of) a teacher and sometimes the electives “incorporate” (include) an “internship” (an opportunity to work with a business or organization, usually without pay, to receive experience).

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - b