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English for Scientists
Winter Term 2009-10
Fridays, 2−4 pm; room 055, Computer Science building, Takustr. 9.
Office Hours: Mon 10-12 on Campfire or by appointment


What makes mathematics interesting is not the right answer
but where it came from and where it leads.

Read "anything" for "mathematics" and you've pretty much arrived at the first premise of this course. As you can imagine, that means quite a bit of thinking that has to be done. Of course, you will have lots of opportunities to practise speaking, writing, and listening. Apart from that, the curriculum will contain the following.

  • How to read texts and argue about the ideas in them,
  • Advanced aspects of the English language,
  • The philosophy of science, and
  • A few serious writing exercises as well.

It is strongly recommended that participants have English skills equivalent to level B2* of the CEFR system. Accordingly, the target level for participants to reach by the end of this course will be C1. (I reserve the right to relegate students to English One or Two if their English skills are clearly not sufficient for EfS.)

Students and faculty of the departments of mathematics and computer science are equally welcome; outside applications will be accepted, space permitting. Regular attendance and participation will usually be rewarded with 3 ECTS credits.

Registration via the KVV is mandatory.

Pre-course assignment

Write a 500-word essay on "Unsung Heroes", by Howard Zinn (PDF). What was Zinn's intention in writing "Unsung Heroes"? Analyze and discuss.

Please see Warburton's The Basics of Essay Writing for a few hints on how to write an Analyze and Discuss essay. (The book can be found on the Reserve Shelf in the Arnimallee library.) Manuscripts must be sent by e-mail and will be accepted in PDF format only. Please make sure to leave a two-inch right margin, spell-check the text, and thoroughly proof-read it. Due date is Wednesday, 14 October 2009.

I'll be happy to discuss any queries you might have relating to this assignment via e-mail, Skype instant message, or (multi-person) chat during my virtual office hours.





The results of the teaching evaluation can be downloaded as a PDF.

* CEFR level B2: Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

Topic revision: r12 - 12 Apr 2010, PeterMonnerjahn


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