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Academic Writing II – week 8, November 30th, 2012

British Club in Kathar (In Orwell's time it co...
British Club in Kathar (In Orwell’s time it consisted of only the ground floor) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


  • Read the magazine article in the textbook, “The End of Privacy” pp 159-161.
  • Read the sample student essay in chapter 5, pp 112-114.
  • (If you did not give me your persuasive essay on Friday Nov. 30th, email me your essay as soon as possible.)

Today’s class:

  1. What are the good points of a good essay? List these in order of importance:
    1. spelling
    2. grammar
    3. examples (facts, figures)
    4. format
    5. organization/structure
    6. humour
    7. logic
    8. “hook”
    9. addressing the reader (“you”)
    10. other _____________
  2. George Orwell‘s “5 Rules for Effective Writing” can be found here.
  3. Read the 2 essays by polyglot Benny Lewis and answer these 4 questions for BOTH essays. The first essay is How to Make Time if You Are Busy (click the link to read the article online). The second essay is How to Speak a Language Pretty Well, Starting from Scratch, in just Two Months. (I also offered a third essay, “The ONE thing that will ultimately lead to success” by the same author; reading this is optional.)
    1.  Did this essay persuade you? Do you agree with it?
    2. Why do you feel it is persuasive?
    3. Which sentences impressed you? Why?
    4. Comments, questions, other.


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Academic Writing II – week 7, November 16th, 2012


Finish your final draft of your 2nd essay, the persuasive essay, and bring it to class on Friday November 30th (there is no class next Friday, Nov. 23rd). Write or type your essay using double space, so as to allow room for others to leave comments.

Today’s class

Continue writing and editing your draft for your persuasive essay. Writing and editing should not be done at the same time; Ayn Rand wrote that these two activities are mutually incompatible (see “The Art of Non-Fiction“). Find someone you trust to read and give you feedback on your drafts before you write your final one.

Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spoke with all students present today and discussed their compare and contrast essay.

Some general points:

  • The best essays gave the reader some new, fresh or interesting information. E.g. some names (e.g. “Benezet“), figures (e.g. the area of Kansai University), or some unique personal experience, such as learning math again as an adult.
  • Many essays, unfortunately, did not tell the reader anything new, but repeated tired old knowledge that most readers already knew. Give the reader something new, something fresh, something unique, something original, something interesting. Please!
  • All essays were well written in terms of formatting, and only a few had grammar or syntax or vocabulary problems that interfered with comprehension.
  • I did not correct minor errors of grammar, vocab and syntax, unless they interfered with comprehension.
  • Many essay titles were rather vague: you want to tell the reader quickly what your essay will be about. The title is a good way to do that. A title like “Universities” is too broad and does not tell the reader what to expect.

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Academic Writing II – week 6, November 9th, 2012

  1. Read your essay aloud to yourself
  2. Random groups of 4/6: read each others’ essays & comment
  3. Freewriting#1:
    1. makeup availability;
    2. What makes a “good” essay”
    3. How could you improve your essay?
    4. Was it useful to read others essays? Why/why not?
    5. Did you like to read comments on your essay? What kind of comments were most useful?
  4. A bit of research might be needed to improve your essay.
  5. Textbook ch 4 p. 94 how to choose a topic
  6. P. 95 choose a topic: make your own list; compare lists with your neighbours.
  7. Homework:
    1. If you typed your essay, email it to me.
    2. Read sample essay in textbook pp91-2
    3. Make a short list of topics for your next essay (persuasive essay).

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Academic Writing II – week 5, November 2nd, 2012

Class cancelled

Sorry, guys and gals. Today’s class cancelled, due to

  • typhoon
  • kidnapped by aliens from Jupiter
  • the Black Death
  • duties at my home school

Due today: your comparison-contrast essay.

  • In small groups, you will read each others’ essays and comment on them.
  • Each group will choose 1 or 2 essays which they think are good.
  • Free-writing on the experience of writing this essay over the past month.


  • Read chapter 4, especially the sample essay on pages 91-2.
  • (Optional) If you typed your essay, please send it to me by email.

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Academic Writing II – week 4, October 26th, 2012

Homework (for Nov. 2nd):

Write your final version of your comparison-contrast essay. Check

  • organization
  • formatting
  • spelling.

Bring your final version to class (Nov. 2nd). You may type it or write it by hand, but remember, it will be read by other students.

Today, we

  1. re-read and finished off our first drafts
  2. got into random groups and read each others’ drafts and gave comments and questions (either orally or in writing)
  3. after receiving group feedback, we re-wrote or edited our first drafts.
  4. We wrote a short comment about today’s class.
Compare and contrast Venn diagram from
Image from

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Academic Writing II – week 3, October 19th, 2012

It’s just a first draft
  1. Freewriting 1: 5 mins
  2. Freewriting 2: same but for a neighbour: edit your freewriting #1 to create a piece of writing that you would be happy to let your neighbour in class read (or write something completely new, or mix the two, it’s up to you)
  3. Freewriting 3: same but for whole class – edit your freewriting #2 (if necessary, if you want to) to create a piece of writing that could be read by the whole class.
  4. Freewriting 4: how did your writing change? Did it change? Which was easier to write? Which was most interesting to read?
  5. Get back  your last week’s papers
  6. Random groups of 5-6 students: share your list of possible topics, then say which one you chose & why. Make suggestions, ask questions, give feedback.
  7. Changed your mind about topic? If so, change it now.
  8. Each person told the whole class about their topic ( title only, not reasons)
  9. Freewriting 5: about today’s class.
  10. Hmwk:Comparison/contrast essay draft #1 – don’t worry about format, or grammar, or spelling. These can be dealt with later.
    1. I just found this short essay comparing private and public universities in Egypt. It’s not a great example (I’m sure you can write something better), but it might give you some ideas.
  11. Schedule for this semester:
    1. Nov 2 – compare/contrast due
    2. Nov 30 – persuasive essay due
    3. Jan 11 – “responding to a reading” due.
First draft - a handwritten example
First draft
Hemingway quote: "The first draft of everything is shit."
Hemingway quote: “The first draft of everything is shit.”

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Academic Writing II – week 2, October 12th, 2012

Venn diagram comparing whales and fish
Venn diagram comparing whales and fish

Today we did:

  • Freewriting 1: 5-6 mins, anything. Private writing (only you and me will read this, no other student)
  • Txtbk p71D, p72E.
  • Share your list of possible topics for a comparison-contrast essay with the students sitting near you.
  • Do Venn diagram exercise comparing the subject of p.73-4 practice 3
  • Choose a topic and start freewriting or making a Venn diagram (10 mins ) about it
  • Share your diagram/freewriting with your neighbours (10mins):  give them some comments, questions, advice, suggestions about their topics, and ask them to give the same to you.
  • You will get feedback from other students several times during the process of writing your comparison-contrast essay
  • Freewriting 2: about today’s class. Your thoughts, feelings, questions, comments, suggestions, complaints, anything is OK. This is private writing.


freewriting  (10 mins)  on why you chose this topic, and the purpose of your comparison-contrast essay.

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Academic Writing II – week 1, October 5th, 2012

This semester, we will use the same textbook, starting from chapter 3.

I have cut up my textbook. I scanned it onto my iPad. Now I don’t need to bring the actual textbook. I did the same with the teacher’s book (with the answers).


  • did some freewriting
  • looked quickly through chapter 3,
  • and we read the model essay,
  • read another model essay about a girl deciding which camera to buy,
  • freewriting 2: about the differences between the two essays
  • freewriting 3: comments about today’s class (the readings, the writings, anything you like).


Start a list of possible topics for your comparison-contrast essay. Bring the list the list to class to share with other students.

  • Over the next few weeks, think about what you would like to know, what you are genuinely interested in.
  • Do not be satisfied with just “something for teacher”.
  • The essay topic, and the essay you write, should have a value for you, personally.


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website for Sheffner's sophomore Academic Writing class at Kyoto Prefectural University, Japan. Since 2012.