AW2 week 10 December 9th, 2016



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