AW1: Week 7, MAY 31st, 2019

  • If you have not already done so, please email me your Essay1 draft3 (final version) at your convenience, and by Friday June 7th.
    • Did you notice the sentence above starts with a subordinate clause, something I said to avoid. Can you see why I did this?
  • Find a good example of an English essay by either Francis Bacon or George Orwell and read it in either Japanese or in English or both.
    • Bring the original English version with you to class on June 7th to share with your classmates. You should be familiar with the contents and able to explain it to your classmates (in Japanese at least).


I have prepared three collections of student Essay #1 which you can download from the links below:

  1. An uncorrected collection from 2013’s AW1 class:
  2. A corrected collection from 2014’s AW1 class:
  3. (Coming soon: An uncorrected collection from this year’s (2019) AW1 class)

The essays in all 3 documents are anonymous and appear in the collection with students’ permission.

Today’s class

  • Academic writing guidelines:
    • English prefers active to passive verbs, e.g. “People think I am too old” instead of “I am thought to be too old”.
    • English prefers positive to negative, e.g.
      • “I had few opportunities to speak English” rather than “I did not have many opportunities to speak English.”
    • English prefers starting a sentence with the main clause rather than the subordinate clause, unless there is a reason to emphasize the subordinate clause, in which case it should go first. E.g., instead of “As a cram school teacher, it is important to tell what the life of the university is like” write “It is important for cram school teachers to know what life at university is like.”
      • Or “my English may not improve if I do not speak to English speakers” instead of “if I can’t speak to foreigners actively, my English will not improve”
    • English prefers verbs to nouns, e.g. “I will learn English” rather than “I will acquire knowledge of English”, or “I regret this” rather than “I feel regret”.
    • English prefers items that are closely connected be kept within the same sentence, e.g. “In Japan a university is where young people go after graduating high school, so I am considered an unusual student” is better than “In Japan, a university is a place where young people go after graduating high school. Therefore, I am an unusual student.”
    • English prefers to keep the subject the same from one sentence to another wherever possible.
  • Academics like
    • precision (using the correct word), e.g. “I will build confidence (to speak English)” instead of “I get confidence”. Academics avoid vagues and subjective words like “get”, “nice” or “great”.
    • accuracy, e.g. “Japanese school education is mainly aimed at helping students pass entrance examinations” instead of “Japanese school education is mainly aimed at passing entrance examinations”, because “education” does not take or pass exams, only people do that.
      • Improve this sentence: “break time with companions of my part-time job is very valuable for me because it improves my communication skill”.
    • and they do not like ambiguity (e.g. words which can have more than one meaning, or have subjective meaning), such as “get, nice, great”, etc.
    • conciseness. E.g. “Japanese school education” is considered preferable to “the contents of education at school in Japan.”
    • the contents of education at school in Japan are mainly aimed at passing entrance examinations –> ?
    • to be careful – they avoid saying “always”, “never” or “all”, but prefer to be cautious and say “most” or “probably” or “hardly ever”, etc. This is called hedging.
    • Feeling and sensation are very important in Japanese culture, but academic writing is about objective facts and logic. Sentences like “I want to feel foreign culture” or “I felt cultural differences” do not belong in academic essays. Differences which involve judgment cannot be felt, they are apprehended by the mind. Say instead, “I experienced / learned / discovered / noticed cultural differences.”
  • Dragon Zakura episode 6: the English competition. What did you learn about writing or learning English from watching this episode?