Introduction to Applied Phonetics
Winter 2020 - The class is much easier than what I expected going in, having friends who took the more difficult 103 instead. There are only 6–7 weeks worth of actual material, and the rest were guest lectures. (The guest lectures still get tested on the final, but they are unsurprisingly quite easy.) The more difficult aspects of the class are memorizing IPA symbols (useful even though you get cheat-sheets on exams) and reading spectrograms. Transcription of unfamiliar sounds could be difficult but the professor makes it easy by offering binary choices as the question format (choose the right one out of two). Overall, it's possible to make the class much harder while teaching the same material, and it's easy to get scared the night before an exam when you look at the amount of information covered. But trust me when I say that it won't be as hard as you fear. The professor is okay, not too remarkable in either good or bad things. She's clear and helpful in lectures in the usual good ways, but not exceptionally/memorably so. There are no papers, two homeworks (20%), six open-book online quizzes (40%), a midterm 45-minute in-class quiz for which you get two hours (10%), and a final (25%). Attendance in sections counts for 5%.
Winter 2022 - This class was okay. However, I really appreciated the grading scheme. 60% of your grade is based on "skills mastery," where you essentially get several opportunities in weekly quizzes (and other assignments) to earn points toward a certain skill. Then once you've earned enough points in a certain skill, you no longer have to take the quizzes for that specific skill. This class does have a textbook but I honestly stopped reading it after the first week because I just didn't find it helpful. So, you could probably do well without it and you'd save a couple of bucks. The two homework assignments are fairly easy, graded for completion, and they can also help you earn some points toward skill mastery. There are also two transcription tasks, and they aren't graded necessarily, but all the points you earn go toward skill mastery. I really recommend spending a lot of time on Homework #2, because it's an easy way to earn points toward your transcription skill (one of the hardest skills to earn points for). I FLOPPED on the first transcription task, but through the quizzes and Homework #2, I was able to get the points I needed and ultimately didn't even have to do Transcription Task #2. The final was super similar to the quizzes. Each skill had a section in the exam with a few questions, for full credit in a particular section you had to earn a certain number of points and the rest would go toward skills mastery. As you can see, you have a ton of opportunities to max out your skills and earn a really good grade in the class. Good luck and don't stress!
Spring 2020 - This class was easily the most difficult class I had this quarter. For reference, I also was taking MATH31A and COM SCI 31 this quarter. I had also received an A+ with professor Vahideh Rasekhikolokdaragh for LING 20. I took this class P/NP, but had I done letter grade, I think I would have gotten a B. It's difficult to explain why the class was hard because I don't consider linguistics my strongest subject. I think my struggles with the class is probably because linguistics is one of my weakest subjects and not because of the professor. The bulk of the class will depend on your performance on weekly problem sets (usually around 2-3 questions, each with 2-3 parts) and quizzes (usually around 20 questions). I averaged 80-90% on quizzes and 70-90% on problem sets because I struggled to apply the concepts we learned in class. For quizzes, he will ask you questions that you can easily find in his lecture slides, notes, and IPA charts. But he will also ask you to apply your knowledge such as identifying possible sounds, identifying sounds based of wavelengths, and how sounds are produced. Problem sets are similarly set up. They're usually two to three questions asking you to use that week's concepts to evaluate languages from different parts of the world. I typically lost points on transcription because I struggled to perceive the different sounds he asked us to transcribe. I also struggled answering written response to seemingly theoretical questions, such as why certain sounds could/couldn't be produced in a language. I think you will want to go beyond the lecture materials and read the textbook to fully understand the material. He tends to ask very peculiar and detailed questions that you might not find in lecture, but that he might ask on exam/quizzes/problem sets. With that said, I wouldn't be quick attribute the class' difficulty with the professor. I personally struggled with linguistics, but the professor was easily one of the most kind and understanding professors I've ever had. Throughout the quarter, he would email us reassuring us that he wanted to make sure we had adequate support to complete the course and encouraged us to reach out if we had questions or required further accommodations in light of the pandemic and protests. Throughout the quarter, he offered several resources for us to practice transcription and encouraged us to use section as an opportunity to practice the concepts we learned in class. Our TA, Jennifer, was very helpful and did a great job clarifying concepts. Professor Faytak was a great lecturer and knew how to convey several concepts in-depth clearly within a single lecture (I suppose it's possible that the fact that we covered so many concepts also made the class a bit more difficult). He made the final no-harm given the COVID-19 pandemic and the George Floyd protests at the time. He also dropped a quiz and problem set to lighten the workload for us. I would recommend this class if you're really interested in linguistics and want to work with a professor who knows his stuff, and knows it well. But if you're looking for an easy A for your major, you're probably going to have to put in more work than you expected. Grading breakdown: 5% section attendance 25% problem sets 20% quizzes 20% midterm exam 30% final exam
Spring 2019 - I found this class to be much more interesting than Ling 20. Perhaps because of that, I thought the class was pretty easy. The slides were online, so yes you can skip lecture. Wouldn't recommend doing that a whole lot, as some slides are vague and are discussed in more detail within lecture. Quizzes are based on the slides, and the homeworks are quite simple. The IPA chart is a little annoying to remember fully, but hopefully don't have to remember much considering Ling 20 worked with the English phonemes in IPA a lot, so you just have to memorize the non-English ones. Also the guest lecturers are quite entertaining and insightful if you feel like you want to pursue one of those careers. TL;DR if you like linguistics this can honestly feel like a GE.