All posts by Sheffner

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

Update to this website: new download page

Hi! While you students have been enjoying your winter vacation eating too much, sleeping, watching TV, playing games, sleeping and, erm, eating, I’ve been WORKING! 

Yes, I’ve been slaving away for YOU, on this website to improve the quality and make it more user-friendly.

Since April 2019, I uploaded worksheets and other materials I used in class to this website. I’ve collected all these together in one place: the download page which you can access by clicking on the name “DOWNLOADS” on the main menu (see screenshot below; click on the image for a bigger picture).

I’ve included class collections of Essay #4 (Persuasive) and Essay #5 (Response) from previous years. I’ll be uploading a few more class collections over the next few days.

I also cleaned up the “Academic Writing Resources” page and added some useful links to MLA guidelines. Check it out. Most links are to English-language pages, but I would like to add some useful Japanese links, so if you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments, and I may add them to the resources page.

AW2: Week 12, December 20th, 2019


  1. Choose a book, movie or article, fiction or non-fiction, Japanese or English, to respond to (see a list of suggestions below).
  2. Email me your choice.
  3. When I say “OK” (by email), you can start writing your response (Essay 5)
  4. Email me your Essay 5 draft 1 by Jan. 10th 2020.
  5. Print it out and bring it to class Jan. 10th, 2020.

You can use something you have read before,  e.g. Bastiat’s Broken Window story, an essay by George Orwell (I recommend “Politics and the English Language”) or Francis Bacon, “Philosophy: Who Needs It?” or choose something new. 

If you would like something challenging to read, below are some suggestions.

As a model, you can use the textbook essay (p. 113-4 “Model A”) or my Model B  for literary texts (fiction “Response to ‘The Elephant’s Child'”) and non-fiction (“Response to ‘Philosophy: Who Needs It”), which uses a simple 3-part structure: 

  1. Background information about the author (objective information)
  2. Summary of the story or content of the article/essay  (objective information)
    1. (The order of 1 and 2 above can be reversed)
  3. Your evaluation (can include subjective elements but try and keep it as objective as possible; NOT whether you agree or disagree, but whether it is a well-written article/essay/story or not and why).
  4. Works cited:
    1. list all the resources you used, including of course the original.
    2. Use the MLA style. See the Academic Writing Resources page on this website for useful links.
    3. All references must be in Roman characters.
    4. Do NOT translate the names of Japanese sources.
      1. See the “Citations Worksheet” for examples.

Suggested reading (or choose your own) (Updated 8 Jan 2020):

AW2: Makeup class (for week 5, November 1st, 2019)

Today’s class

If you were absent today, read this blog post then do assignments 1.1 and 3.5

  1. Philosophy: Who Needs It? A look at the grammar, logic and rhetoric. (The speech was recorded and you can listen to it here. Ayn Rand starts speaking at 3 minutes 45 seconds.)  I wrote a sample response essay to this speech which you can download here [wpdm_package id=’1903′] [wpdm_package id=’1884′] [wpdm_package id=1861 template=”link-template-calltoaction3.php”] 
    Continue reading AW2: Makeup class (for week 5, November 1st, 2019)

AW2: Week 11, December 13th, 2019


Makeup class Saturday 14 December 2019, 10:30 ~ 12:00, usual room. For those who are unable to attend, I will post an assignment on this blog Saturday 14 December after 6 pm.


Read ONE of the following: 

  1. the paragraphs about George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (1.1~1.3) OR
  2. the paragraphs about Edward Bernays (2.1~2.5)
  3. You can download the paragraphs here [wpdm_package id=’1874′]
  4. Write two paragraphs responding to 1.1~1.3 or 2.1~2.5.
    1. Your first paragraph should summarize (and explain if necessary) the content (meaning) of the paragraphs 1.1~1.3 or 2.1~2.5
    2. Your second paragraph should evaluate those paragraphs. Do not agree or disagree: evaluate only.

Today’s class

  1. Textbook pp. 112 (answer the questions), 113-114 (sample essay).
  2. In her speech to the graduating students of Westpoint, novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand said that there are 3 important questions in life that we need to answer and that we can only answer with by using philosophy. What are those 3 questions?  [wpdm_package id=’1884′]

AW2: Week 10, December 6th, 2019


Read the following before next Friday for a class discussion:

  1. Philosophy – who needs it?  
  2. Philosophy – who needs it? Japanese translation [wpdm_package id=’1861′]
  3. (Bastiat’s “The Broken Window Fallacy”, if you have not yet done so).
    1. Read about it here in Japanese
    2. Read about it here in English


I’ve reduced the number of essays to read, as I think 3 essays (even if one is in Japanese) is probably too much to ask in one week. If you have already read the “I, Pencil” essay, don’t worry! You can talk about it in class Dec. 13th and read the “Philosophy” essay for next week’s homework.


Makeup class:

  • Date: Saturday, December 14th
  • Time: 2nd period (10:30-12:00)
  • Place: same room as usual (205).

For those who cannot attend, you can do a reading and writing assignment which I will post next Friday.

Today’s class

  1. “a right to…” In English, it means a demand for – a right to a job, for instance, means if you do not have a job, someone must give you one.
  2. an effective advertisement and an effective persuasive essay
    1. both need objective information and both good and bad points
  3. Discussion of “The Broken Window Fallacy”: the original title of this short 1850 essay by Bastiat is “What is Seen and What is Unseen” (Ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas)
  4. identifying claims (worksheet): any claim (any statement that seems to be a fact) must be supported by evidence, especially by citations  [wpdm_package id=’1859′]
  5. translating news headlines from Japanese into English (worksheet)

AW2: Week 9, November 29th, 2019


Write your final draft, save it as “AW2 Essay4 Final Lastname” (use the same for the subject of your email) and email it to me by Friday Dec. 6th. No need to print out or bring to class.

Today’s class

  1. Citation MLA style.
    1. Notice how Japanese books and articles are cited (with titles given in Japanese but in Roman characters.)
    2. Notice how articles which have no author (or where the author is unknown) are cited.
    3. worksheet. [wpdm_package id=’1844′] Completed worksheet is here: [wpdm_package id=’1835′]
    4. Notice how citations are done in this model essay (notice how the in-text citations refer to the “works cited” section).  [wpdm_package id=’1824′]
  2. Counter-arguments. Read this extract from a popular Japanese manga. How does this relate to academic essay writing? What did you learn about the importance of counter-arguments from reading this extract?  [wpdm_package id=’1841′]
    1. Successful advertisements and academic essays need objective, factual information (e.g. “1 km from the station” or “5 minutes’ walk from bus-stop”) not subjective impressions such as “convenient” or “close”.
    2. Successful advertisements and academic essays need objective facts about both good and bad points.  These make the advertisement (and essay) more persuasive because they suggest impartiality and let the reader judge whether this is good or bad, positive or negative.
  3. Here is the MLA guideline for a multivolume work (which “Angel Bank” is)  (from the Purdue University  Online Writing Lab).
    1. A Multivolume Work
    2. When citing only one volume of a multivolume work, include the volume number after the work’s title, or after the work’s editor or translator.
      1. Quintilian. Institutio Oratoria. Translated by H. E. Butler, vol. 2, Loeb-Harvard UP, 1980.
  4. Using the biographic information below, write a citation for this manga using the MLA style.
    1.  2009
    2. Kodansha
    3. Angel Bank (but you must write the title in Japanese)
    4. Norifusa Mita
    5. Volume 5

AW2: Week 8, November 22nd, 2019


  • Re-read the essays handed out in class today (you can download them below).
  • Watch the videos about citations and references if you have not yet done so.
  • Re-write your draft #3, save as “AW2 Essay4 Draft4 LastName” (without the ” of course”), and send it to me by email. The email should have the same subject line “AW2 Essay4 Draft4 LastName”.
  • Print it out and bring to class next week.
  • NEW! Checklist for your draft #4:
    • Does your title and thesis statement clearly show your position on the topic?
    • Do you have a clear thesis statement?
    • Have you done some research and found at least two articles or websites – one that supports your position and one that supports the opposite opinion? 
      • Have you listed both articles in your “Works Cited” section and referred to them in the body of your essay (in-text citation)?
      • Have you used the correct (MLA) format for each one? See this model MLA-style essay for examples. [wpdm_package id=’1824′]
    • Have you avoided rhetorical questions? (E.g. “Do you like to read books?”)
    • Have you avoided using subjective expressions? (E.g., “I think the 2020 Olympics will be good for Japan.”
    • Have you included objective facts as evidence to support your claims (position and opinions)?
    • Have you included references for all these pieces of evidence (i.e. have you cited all your sources)?
    • Does your conclusion restate your position and summarize your main points?

Today’s class

  1. Brief discussion of citations and references (see last week’s homework)
  2. Wrong logic [wpdm_package id=’1830′]
  3. In small groups, discuss the key main points of the following essays (click the titles below to download the essay)
    1. Tips on How to Write an Argumentative Essay [wpdm_package id=’1808′]
    2. 5 Steps to Writing a Position Paper [wpdm_package id=’1810′]
    3. Refutation [wpdm_package id=’1812′]
    4. Usage and Examples of a Rebuttal [wpdm_package id=’1814′]
    5. An Introduction to Academic Writing (essay + discussion questions) [wpdm_package id=’1816′]

AW2: Week 7, November 15th, 2019


  1. Re-write draft #2. Save as “AW2 Essay4 Draft3 Lastname”. Email it to me (subject line should be the same) by next Friday. I will email those students whom I did not get a chance to speak to in class today (Nov. 15th).
    1. Print out and bring your draft #3 to the next class.
  2. If you have not yet done so, please read the essay by Bastiat entitled “The Broken Window Fallacy” 
  3. I suggest you read the Japanese explanation first, then the English. Here’s a link to the Japanese one (Wikipedia).
    1. We will discuss this essay in class next week (Nov. 22nd).
  4. Watch these videos about citations:
    1. Video 1 is here:
    2. Video 2 is here: 
    3. Video 3 is here: 
  5. Read section 3 below on citations and references.

Today’s class

  1. The difference between “uninterested” and “disinterested”. Small differences but important. Academic writers and students (that means you!) are interested in such small differences and understand their importance.
  2. Rights: positive and negative. Group discussions and individual answers in writing.
    1. Right to life (negative)
      1. Who has the right to life?
      2. Where does life come from?
      3. What does “right to life” mean?
      4. Why is the right to life a human right?
    2. Right to an education (positive)
      1. Who has the right to an education?
      2. Where does education come from?
      3. What does “right to an education” mean?
      4. Why is it considered (by many but not by all) as a human right? (see Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; but not everyone agrees it is a right: for example, French lawyer Bastiat wrote, “

        The most urgent necessity is, not that the State should teach, but that it should allow education. All [legal] monopolies are detestable, but the worst of all is the monopoly of education.

        — By. Frédéric Bastiat

    3. Citations and references. At KPU, Academic Writing students are supposed to use the MLA style. There are two parts to citations:
      1. the in-text citations which are in the main body of your essay, and
      2. the “Works Cited” section which comes after your conclusion at the end of your essay.
      3. Every work cited, that means every website, newspaper and magazine or journal article or book that you use in your essay should be referred to both in the body of your essay and listed in the “Works Cited” section at the end of your essay. The list should be in alphabetical order of authors’ names.
      4. Why should you include citations in your academic essay?
        1. You need to show that you have done some reading about your topic. 
        2. You need to support the points that you are making, i.e. you must give evidence to support your claims.
          1. You must show where you got your information from – not just “the Internet”,
          2. you must give enough information for your reader to find the same article or website or book that you found:
            1. the title of the article or website or book;
            2. the author;
            3. the publisher (Wikipedia is a publisher, for example);
            4. the date of the article, web page or book;
            5. the URL if it’s a website or web page;
            6. the date you accessed it (if it’s a website or web page).
      5. 2 videos (in English) on how to write citations and a bibliography:
          1. Video 1 is here:
          2. Video 2 is here: 
            1. This screenshot from video 2 shows the relationship between the in-text citation and the Works Cited (or References) section (click on the picture below to see a bigger one): screenshot
          3. The examples in the video do not use the MLA style but you should.
            1. Overall guide:  
            2. MLA in-text citations:
            3. MLA Works Cited page basic format:
          4. And here is a video in Japanese on how to make citations and a Works Cited page using Microsoft Word. The style used in this video is the APA style (see 1:30 in the video; click the picture below to see a bigger one) but you should choose “MLA” from the drop-down list instead of APA. Screenshot