All posts by Sheffner

Part-time instructor of Academic Writing in English @ Kyoto Prefectural University, Kyoto, Japan.

AW1: WEEK 2, APRIL 19TH, 2019

Homework

Today’s class

  1. Principles of academic writing (review)
    1. Ask questions before judging, deciding, writing or speaking – in order to get correct and accurate information.
      1. E.g. before writing about Trump’s “America First” slogan, ask
        1. what does it mean (not what you think it means but an objectively verifiable meaning)?
        2. who first used this expression?
        3. when was it used?
    2. Define your terms.
      1. e.g. when writing about the American principle of “mind your own business”, first define “business” and the meaning of the expression “mind your own business”.
      2. This definition should be objectively verifiable, i.e. not your own personal interpretation.
    3. “A is A” – Aristotle’s Law of Identity. I found a Japanese explanation of it. You can download it here.
  2. Free writing (5 minutes): what was your week like since last class? How many classes do you have in a week?
  3. It is important for you, as students learning to write in English, that you have some understanding of Western principles, otherwise your writing may not be persuasive.
    1. E.g., suggesting people should do something “because everyone else is doing it” is unlikely to persuade a Western reader. It is not a reason for action. Why not? (Explanation next week.)
    2. I explained about the behaviour of sheep. (People who behave like sheep, i.e. doing what everyone else does without thinking, are sometimes called “sheeple” (sheep + people)).
  4. Watch this video and
    1. Summarize in English what the man (Sakuragi) says;
    2. Give your opinion about what he says, explaining the reason for your opinion.


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AW1: WEEK 1, April 12th, 2019

Welcome to Sheffner’s Academic Writing I (AW1) class.

The textbook is

Writers at Work: The Essay (Upper-Intermediate) Student’s Book. Publisher: Cambridge University Press. Dorothy Zemach & Lynn Stafford-Yilmaz (authors) ISBN: 978-0521-693-028

We will start using this from next week.

You can download today’s (Friday April 12th) presentation here:

Homework: send me an email.

  • Introduce yourself briefly
  • tell me why you are taking this class (briefly)
  • make a short comment about today’s class (April 12th).
  • Use a current email address that you check regularly. I will use this to contact you from time to time during the semester.

Check out the email format image if you’re not sure of the format.

I’m looking forward to this semester. See you next Friday, April 19th.

Today’s class

  • Course intro (see link above)
  • What is academic writing?
  • What is the origin of the word “academic”?
  • Who started it? Where?
  • What are the characteristics of academic writing?
    • Asking questions BEFORE judging
      • What? When? Where? Who? How?Why?
    • Defininitions / define your terms
  • Liberal Arts:
    • grammar
    • logic
    • rhetoric
  • Free writing – 5 minutes – tell me about your spring vacation. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling or logical order. Just write. Do not edit while writing. Writing and editing are two different activities that use different parts of the brain. Trying to do both at the same time is a bad idea.
  • 5 American principles:
    1. God helps those who help themselves
    2. Mind your own business
    3. Live and let live
    4. Let’s make a deal
    5. Our children’s future will be better
  • Write your own list of Japanese or your own personal principles, and a brief comparison with the 5 American ones.
  • Rhetoric is the art of persuasion. To persuade others, it is necessary to understand how they think. Therefore, it is important and necessary for writing persuasively in English to understand English-speakers’ principles and values.


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AW2: WEEK 15, February 1st, 2019

Announcement

Well done to all the students who wrote their final timed essays. If you still need to hand in an essay, I need to receive it by email (because I’m not coming back to KPU until next semester) and by Friday Feb. 8th as I must hand in your final grades by then.

I enjoyed teaching you all, and I look forward to teaching your juniors next April. If any of you would like to chat with me after class, come and find me after 4th period on Fridays. I’ll be happy to see you.

Today’s class

Clarification of main points of academic writing:

  1. Define your terms (meaning of the key words in the question, title or topic). E.g. “War means destruction and ‘good for the economy’ means some businesses will get profits from war.” Or, “Japanese New Year traditions include first visit to the shrine, sending and receiving New Year’s cards, giving New Year’s money gifts and preparing and eating traditional New Year’s dishes. There are others but these are the ones most familiar to people today.”
  2. Avoid rhetorical questions, e.g. “Is war really good for the economy?”
  3. Answer the question: “Discuss” does NOT mean “persuade”; avoid using the words like “should” or “I (dis)agree” in such an essay.

For your final timed essay (45 minutes), choose one of the four timed essays assigned so far. No dictionaries, no Internet devices, no notes.


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AW2: WEEK 14, JANUARY 25TH, 2019

Homework

  • Read my comments on your timed essays of January 16th.
  • Read the sample essays I handed out in class.
  • Re-read chapter 6 of the textbook
  • Prepare to write your best timed essay in next week’s class.

Book sale! 50% off any of these old books of mine for any of my Academic Writing 2 students! Free shipping! Just send me an email telling me the book(s) you are interested in, and I’ll send you them within a few days.

Today’s class

  1. Handouts: download the 2 sample essays here
  2. Timed essay #3: “War is good for the economy”. Discuss.
    1. You should refer to Bastiat’s essay “The Broken Window Fallacy”.
    2. You should explain why some people think that war is good for the economy, and
    3. why others (like Bastiat) do not.
  3. Timed essay #4: “Nobody should make a big decision without consulting at least one other person.” Discuss.
    1. Points to mention in your essay:
      1. Define your terms: what is a “big” decision?
      2. Give at least one example (perhaps from your own experience) where consultation happened and that was beneficial;
      3. Give at least one example (perhaps from your own experience) where consultation happened and that was a mistake;
      4. Give an example of an important decision where consultation is not possible.
      5. Conclusion.


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AW2: WEEK 13, JANUARY 18TH, 2019

Update – essay #5 class collection now available

Essay #5 class collection is now available for free download here: https://www.sheffnersweb.net/blogs/classblogs/kpu/download/essay-5-class-collection/

Many thanks to all those students who gave permission for their essay to be used.

Homework

  1. What was one big decision that you had to make? When? How did you decide? Who did you consult (if anyone)? Why did you consult (or why not)?
  2. “The broken window fallacy” (note: there are at least two versions of the story; the one you should know is the story by French economist Frederic Bastiat). You will need to know the story in order to write next week’s timed essay.
    1. Learn the story
    2. Understand what it means

Today’s class

  1. Think academically = think like an academic:
    1. analyze meaning (e.g. what does “akemashite” mean? What does “hatsu-mode” mean?)
      1. ask “who? what? when? where? how? why?” (e.g. when do people say “akemashite”? When do they go to “hatsu-mode”? What is “hatsu-mode”? Why do people do it? Who does it? Where? etc.)
  2. Timed essay #1 (30 minutes):
    1. ‘”America First” is good for Japan.’ Discuss.
      1. Paragraph #1 – explain the correct meaning of “America First”, its history (what? when? who?)
      2. Paragraph #2 – suggest some arguments for and against this policy (or you can make the “for” arguments paragraph #2 and the “against” arguments paragraph #3).
      3. Your personal conclusion with your reasons.
  3. Timed essay #2 (30 minutes):
    1. ‘Japanese New Year traditions have no meaning in today’s world.’ Discuss.
      1. What are some Japanese New Year traditions? Why are they traditions? When did they start (for example)?
      2. Give some arguments for and against (or you can make the “against” arguments paragraph #3).
      3. Your personal conclusion with reasons.


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AW2: WEEK 12, JANUARY 11TH, 2019

Homework

  1. If you did not give me your Essay 5 Final draft (see here) on Friday Jan. 11th, please email it to me as soon as possible.
  2. Finish the textbook exercises, if you did not finish in class:
    1. Textbook p. 134 – answer questions 1-4.
    2. Textbook p. 135 – read the sample timed essay
    3. p. 136 – read section C
    4. p. 137 – read section D
    5. p. 138 – practice 3
  3. “America First” is good for Japan. Discuss (= write two paragraphs as explained below).
    1. Research the meaning and history of the phrase “America First” – one paragraph.
    2. Based on paragraph 1, discuss (write one paragraph about) the advantages and disadvantages to Japan of an America First foreign policy.

Today’s class

  1. Read a classmate’s or your own final draft of Essay #5. Make any final changes by hand.
  2. Write 100 words to explain in English to someone who knows nothing about Japan about the following:
    1. o-sechi ryori
    2. hatsu moude
    3. “akemashite omedetou”
  3. Do the textbook exercises above.
  4. Do you give your permission for your essay #5 to appear in the class collection?
    1. If “yes”, do you want your name to appear on it, or not?


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AW2: WEEK 11, DECEMBER 21st, 2018

Homework

This is for January 11th. Please email it to me by Jan. 11th and bring a printed copy to class on that day.

In the January 18, 25th and Feb. 1st classes, students will write timed  essays in class. All students must complete at least two timed  essays (as well as hand in essays #4 and #5 of good quality).

Happy holidays!

Write your final draft of Essay #5 “Response essay”. You should by now have written at least two different pieces of response writing:

  1. response to a piece of writing (fiction or non-fiction), a song, a movie, a poem, etc.
  2. a summary of the main arguments of two articles with different or opposing points of view on a controversial topic

For your final draft, you may use either of these.

If you use #1, make it as objective as possible; e,g, instead of “This is my favourite movie”, write, “This movie was very successful in Japan, grossing ….. million yen in revenue and watched by approximately 8 million people.” You may give your judgment or feelings about it in the final paragraph.

You must:

  1. introduce the original source (book, movie, etc) in your introductory paragraph. See the sample essay in the textbook (p. 113) for one way to do that.
  2. correctly summarize the main points (ideas, arguments, message) of the book, movie, poem, etc. Keep your summary of the story to one or two sentences only.
  3. Include at least one direct quote and one indirect quote from the original book, movie or song, etc.
  4. include a bibliography or “works cited” section, correctly formatted according to MLA guidelines. See the Academic Writing Resources page for links.
    1. No Chinese characters.
    2. Give the exact titles of articles used; do not translate the title of a Japanese article into English.

If you use #2, you must

  • add an introductory paragraph, giving (if necessary) background information on the situation in Japan for non-Japanese readers.
  • introduce the original source (book, movie, etc) in your introductory paragraph. See the sample essay in the textbook (p. 113) for one way to do that.
  • correctly summarize the main arguments of each article
  • Include at least one direct quote and one indirect quote from the 2 articles.
  • add a concluding paragraph. In that paragraph, give your assessment (judgment, opinion) of the competing arguments. E.g., “the article argues that an increase in the consumption tax rate to 10% is necessary in order to help pay for the various welfare programs. However, this argument does not consider the negative effects of such a tax rate on the….” etc. You may give your personal opinion here, with your reasons.

Today’s class

  1. summarize the main arguments of the article “Homework stinks!” (textbook p. 154-5).
  2. write a short response to this class (Academic Writing II).
    1. what kind of class is it?
    2. how is it different from other (English) classes?
    3. what are the merits and demerits of this class?
    4. what is your personal opinion about it?
  3. 1-to-1 conferencing to discuss your writing for last week’s assignment.
  4. Enjoy the nice Christmas BGM


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AW2: Week 10, December 14th, 2018

Homework

  • Choose a controversial topic and find two articles on this topic with opposing or different points of view: one article “for” and one “against”. (The original articles may be in either English or Japanese, but of course your response must be in English).
  • summarize in one paragraph the main arguments in each article.
  • DO NOT WRITE YOUR OPINION.
  • List the articles you used in your “works cited” list, using the appropriate MLA format
  • Email it to me by Friday Dec. 21st.
  • Print it out and bring it to class Friday Dec. 21st
  • (Dec. 21st will be the last class of 2018.)

Today’s class

Announcement

I added a new page: Class Collections. You can download the Essay#4 class collection PDF from here: https://www.sheffnersweb.net/blogs/classblogs/kpu/class-collections/


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AW2: Week 9, December 7th, 2018

Announcement

Essay #4 Class Collection is now ready and can be downloaded here: 

Thank you to all those students who graciously gave permission for their essay to appear. (Note: this document is password-protected which limits printing and changes made to the document.)

Homework

  • Write draft 1 (typed) of your response essay (if you have already shown me your typed complete essay, then this will be draft 2)
  • email it to me by next Friday Dec. 14th
  • Print it out and bring to class Dec. 14th.

Today’s class

  1. 1-to-1 conferencing
  2. Textbook:
    1. p. 116 practice 3
    2. p. 120 practice 5
    3. p. 121 practice 6
    4. p. 123 practice 7
    5. Read the article “Don’t Shoot” (pp. 162-3)
    6. p. 115 practice 2


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AW2: WEEK 8, NOVEMBER 30TH, 2018

Homework

  • Re-write your response to something you feel strongly about. Or you may write a new one on a different topic.
    • Be sure to include the “work cited” information in the correct format. See the Overview here: bit.ly/OWL_MLA4aw2

Today’s class

  1. An overview of the MLA style for citations. Today’s handout was taken from this website:  bit.ly/OWL_MLA4aw2
  2. Read the article about homework on pages164-5 of the textbook.
  3. Copy a sample response-essay introductory paragraph.
    1. The introductory paragraph must include
      1. a summary of the original source (article, song, movie, book, etc)
      2. an initial reference to the original source
      3. a short statement of your feelings about it.


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