AW2, week 14, January 27th, 2017

Homework

  1. Read the article on swine flu (download it here: Swine_Flu_by_Rappoport
  2. Is it an academic essay? Does it have any features of academic writing? If so, which ones? (see below)
  3. Bring your answers to these questions to the next class.
  4. Next week, we will discuss the answers to these questions, and write two timed essays.
  5. Next week’s timed essays will be under test conditions: strict time limit, no dictionaries, no electronic or internet devices. Just pencil and paper and your awesome human brain!

Today’s class

  1. Review of key features of academic writing (see also the  annotated handout “Majority Rule Equals Tyranny”; download it here: Majority Rule Equals Tyranny_annotated
    1. Introduce the topic (plus any necessary background information). If necessary, state your position about the topic.
    2. Define your terms.  E.g.
      1. in an essay about the Electoral College, you will need to define what that is.
      2. in an essay about the division of labour, you will need to define what you mean by that.
      3. in an essay about homework or uniforms, you will need to define “homework” or “uniform”.
      4. By the way, a definition does not have to be the dictionary definition. In an exam situation, you cannot use a dictionary obviously. You must make it clear what your understanding of the term is, that is all.
    3. Use  objective facts to support your essay.
      1. “objective” means other people can check if they are true or not.
      2. “facts” means names, dates, numbers, places.
    4. Conclusion – summarize your arguments and, if you are trying to persuade the reader, give a final appeal.
  2. Timed essay (30 minutes): “Discuss the arguments for and against legalizing marijuana.” Use the handout to help you (download it here: Arguments For and Against Legalizing Marijuana

 


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AW2, week 13, January 20th, 2017

Homework

None. But if you were absent today, read the parts of the textbook we read in class today. You need to have read this material in order to participate in next 2 weeks’ classes. There will not be time in class to read the material. You must read it before class.

Next week and the week after (week 15) we will be writing test, timed essays in class.

Today’s class

  1. Chapter 6, p. 140 A read.
  2. Practice 5
  3. p. 141 Practice 6.
  4. p. 134, questions 1-4.
  5. p. 135, B.
  6. p. 136, C and practice 1
  7. p. 137, D and practice 2.
  8. p. 138, practice 3.
  9. p. 139, practice 4.
  10. p. 139, E: choose a topic and p. 141, B, write an outline (see also p. 142, outline A).

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AW2, week 12, January 13th, 2017

Homework

Write an essay discussing the arguments for and against the topic of “Organ Transplants”.  Choose two arguments for, and two arguments against to discuss in your essay.

Today’s class

  • Discussion of arguments for and against the topic of “School Uniforms”.
    • Which arguments are strong and which are weak?
  • Discussion of arguments for and against the topic of “Legalized Gambling”.
    • Which arguments are strong and which are weak?
    • Choose  arguments from the “for” list, and two arguments from the “against” list and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
    • Write a short conclusion giving your judgement about the “for” and “against” arguments. Which side has the stronger arguments, do you think?

 


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Happy Holidays!

Wishing you peace and contentment, today and every day.

(Photo courtesy of Emily)

The new header is taken from a photo by blogger <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”><a href=”https://stardustenglishwriting.blogspot.jp/”>Stardust Talk, </a></span>who writes about and takes beautiful photos of places in Nara. Check out <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”><a href=”https://stardustenglishwriting.blogspot.jp/”>her blog and other excellent photos.</a></span>


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AW2, week 11, December 16th, 2016

Happy Holidays!

Homework

Re-write your response essay, print out and bring to the next class (January 13th).

Today’s class

  1. Confirmation of the meaning of essay “Majority Rule Equals Tyranny”.
  2. The structure of the essay”Majority Rule Equals Tyranny” (download the annotated version here: Majority Rule Equals Tyranny_annotated
  3. An analysis of some student sentences.
    1. Avoid using “you” or “we”, especially “we”, without making it clear what the noun is that “we” is replacing.
    2. Avoid conversational language in your essay.
    3. Avoid responding emotionally to an issue.
      1. Make sure you have understood the original article correctly before you criticize it, to avoid looking foolish.
      2. Base your opinion on objective facts and bring those facts to the attention of your readers.

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AW2 week 10 December 9th, 2016

Homework

None.

Today’s class

  1. Discussion of student responses to the Dragon Zakura episode 6. (Download the document here: dragon-zakura-responses
    1. In an academic essay, you need to make arguments.
    2. Most of the examples in the document are personal opinions, not arguments.
      1. E.g., “I like American pop music so [the method demonstrated in the Dragon Zakura episode] is best for me.”
        1. Whether you approve of the method or not is irrelevant.
    3. Some sentences are “straw man arguments“. E.g.
      1. “The test was prepared by Sakuragi. It’s unfair because he and Kawaguchi knew what kinds of questions are included.”
        1. The fact that Sakuragi chose (not “prepared”) the test does not by itself make it unfair. It would only be unfair if he had told the students about the test (he did not), or if he had taught them a certain way especially for that test. He did not, nor did Kawaguchi. Kawaguchi made his method clear (using music and movement) well before the English contest was decided.
        2. “I disagree with learning English to pass entrance exams and not for communication.”
          1. the topic is the content of the video.   In this case, the students are trying to pass an entrance exam. In the video, Sakuragi explicity states that he is not teaching students to communicate but to pass the entrance exam.
          2. Therefore, the above opinion is a straw man and is rrelevant.
          1. “Enjoying studying is important, I think.”
            1. Irrelevant. The video makes no mention of making study enjoyable a goal or purpose. The purpose is simply to prepare students to pass the English entrance exam. Therefore, this comment is a red herring.
          2. “I agree that in order to acquire English, learners should use English, because the purpose of language is to communicate.”
            1. Irrelevant. A red herring. Kawaguchi in the video does not have the students use English in order to help them communicate. In fact, Sakuragi explicity states the purpose is not communication but entrance-exam preparation. The above sentence is the writer’s personal opinion, but it is not an argument and is irrelevant to the topic.
          3. “Kawaguchi says that, when you are on a date, you don’t use difficult words. I think this is true. To acquire language we need to present our feelings (thinking).”
            1. Red herring. The final sentence is the writer’s personal opinion, but it is not supported by anything in the video. The video does not show students learning to express their feelings, nor does it discuss the importance of expressing one’s feelings, or whether or not expressing feelings is necessary in order to acquire language.
    4. Some criticisms are irrelevant because they are factually incorrect. E.g.,
      1. “Learning English while exercising is good, but it is only effective if students already have a certain basic knowledge of English.”
        1. TPR is a well known method for teaching beginners in which instructors give and demonstrate commands and movements and learners copy the movement while hearing the commands. It is therefore incorrect to say that “learning English while exercising (i.e. while moving) is only effective if students already have a basic knowledge of English.”
    5. Another logical fallacy is “poisoning the well”, (“Presenting negative information about a person before he/she speaks so as to discredit the person’s argument. “). E.g.,
      1. “Sakuragi’s opinion is too simple. His powerful voice is persuasive but one-sided.”
        1. It is true that simply by speaking loudly and passionately a person may sound persuasive without actually making any logical arguments, and in fact there is an example of this in the video (by Kawaguchi). The writer making these accusations should rather use actual quotations from the video to illustrate the points he/she is trying to make.
  2. Write a response essay to the article “Majority Rule Equals Tyranny” by Walter Williams. Download the document here:  majority-rule-equals-tyranny

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AW2 week 9, December 2nd, 2016

Homework

Write a response essay to any one of the following essays. It must be typed with correct format. Print it out and bring to class, and also email it to me.

  1. The “privacy” essay by Penenberg in the textbook appendix.
  2. The “Homework” essay in the textbook appendix.
  3. The “Violent Video Games” essay in the textbook appendix.
  4. Trump’s “America First” speech: trump-foreign-policy-speech
  5. George Washington’s Farewell Address (just the highlighted  foreign policy parts): washington-farewell-address

Today’s class

  1. Discussion of subjective judgements vs objective facts, using a worksheet of sample sentences from student responses. Download the worksheet here: subjective-vs-objective-worksheet
    1. In academic essays, avoid purely subjective, personal opinions, unless you can support them with objective facts.
      1. E.g. “His ideas are old-fashioned.”
        1. If you use such a statement in an academic essay, you must
          1. give an objective definition of “old-fashioned”
          2. show how the writer’s ideas are old-fashioned using examples from the original.
    2. Textbook: practice paraphrasing, quoting and citing
      1. p. 120 Practice 5
      2. p. 121 Practice 6
      3. p. 123 Practice 7.

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AW2 week 8, November 25th, 2016

Homework

Write a simple 5-paragraph (or more)  response  essay to this video clip below.

  1. Your introductory paragraph must include a short summary of the episode, the main lessons it teaches about English study and about life, and whether you agree with those lessons or not and why.
  2. The other paragraphs should deal with the main lessons that you select from the video.
  3. Use the English subtitles for quoting directly from the video, or use paraphrasing.
  4. Finally, cite the original source. The URL is https://youtu.be/AEnO6uYMX4g
    1. Use this format for the citation but without the parentheses:  “(Name of video).” YouTube, uploaded by (name of uploader), 6 June 2016 (date uploaded), www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBlpjSEtELs (URL, see above or visit YouTube).

Today’s class

  1. Review homework.
  2. Read the sample “response” essay and answer the questions below. The essay is a response to reading “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau. (click the links to read more. Click here to read about Walden in Japanese and here to read about Thoreau in Japanese)
    1. What is the theme of “Walden”?
    2. Does the writer think Thoreau achieved his goal?
    3. What is the subject (topic) of the long paragraph 2?
    4. How many reasons does the writer give for his opinion?
    5. Do you notice anything else about the essay?
  3. Textbook,
    1. p 120-1 Practice 5
    2. p. 121 Practice 6 (#1~#3)
    3. p. 123 Practice 7 (#1~#3).

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AW2 WEEK 7, NOVEMBER 18TH, 2016

Homework

  1. Write an outline and introductory paragraph for a response essay to this article:trump-foreign-policy-speech
  2. What are the “five main weaknesses” in US foreign policy, according to the article? Use direct quotations or paraphrasing.
  3. Cite the original speech (see the sample essay in the textbook p. 114).

Today’s  class

  1. “Entangling alliances” quote from Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural speech, March 1, 1801. (See last week’s handout “Excerpts from George Washington’s Farewell Address”. Download it here: washington-farewell-address
  2. Choose one quote from the list (the one you summarised last week) and write an introductory paragraph about it. (Download the list of quotes here: analyzing_political_comments
    1. Include a summary of the original quote,
    2. a reference to the source (where it came from), and
    3. your thesis statement (your position on the matter).
  3. Short discussion of the homework article “The America First Committee”. (Donwload it here: america-first-committee
  4. Textbook sample essay: how does the writer show which ideas are her own and which ideas are from the original writer (Penenberg)?
  5. Choose one of the two essays in the Appendix of the textbook, and write an introductory paragraph for a response essay about it.
    1. Give the reference.
    2. Summarize the main ideas
    3. Give your thesis statement.
    4. Add the reference (see “Work Cited” in the sample essay on p. 114).

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AW2 week 6, November 11th, 2016

Homework

  1. If you have not already done so, please email me your essay #4 ASAP (As Soon As Possible). This is already one week overdue.
  2. Please read and respond to this  Wikipedia article: America_First_Committee  
    (You can download a PDF version here: america-first-committee )

    1. Give the title and reference (source, date, etc) for this article.
    2. Summarize the main points of the article.
      1. You can use direct quotes or your own words. A combination of both is often used.
    3. Give your evaluation:
      1. Is it true, i.e. is it factually correct? Is the article reliable? Why (not)?
      2. Is the article well written? Why (not)?
      3. Other (but avoid giving your opinion about the content of the article).

Today’s class

  1. Discuss in groups what you read or watched for homework.
  2. Today is Armistice Day in Europe. Red poppies are often worn on this day.
  3. Textbook chapter 5. Read page 111
  4. Practice 1,p. 114, questions 2, 4 and 5 ONLY (answers on looseleaf).
  5. Read these quotes from the British newspaper “The Independent” and ask some critical questions:
    1. The newspaper front page the sums up Europe’s reaction to Trump victory. One French newspaper dubbed the President-elect ‘American Psycho’.
    2. French newspaper Liberation called Mr. Trump ‘American Psycho’ – a reference to the book and film about a murderous stockbroker.

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website for students of Sheffner's Academic Writing class at Kyoto Prefectural University, Japan.