AW1: Week 4, May 10th, 2019

Write a paragraph (300-500 words) about what is an essay.

  • research the meaning and history of the English word “essay” (like I researched the meaning and history of the word “academic”) (this will be part of the answer to the questions
    • what is an essay?”
    • “when” did essay writing start (in the West)?
  • research and give the names of 1 or 2 famous Western essay writers (“who?”)
  • give 1 or 2 examples of famous English (or Western) essays.
  • print out and bring to class (May 24th)

Today’s class

  1. “A is A” in Japanese.
  2. Thinking in concepts:
    1. in English, water is qualified as “hot water” or “cold water”, whereas in Japanese they are given two completely different names.
      1. water does not change its identity (H2O) when its temperature changes.
      2. Below 0 degrees it does change its nature, from a liquid to a solid, therefore it is given a different name (ice)
      3. Above 100 degrees it does change its nature, from a liquid to a gas, therefore it is given a different name (steam).
    2. in English, the concept “brother” is qualified as “older brother” or “younger brother”, whereas in Japanese these concepts are given completely different names.
      1. In English, therefore, the essential concept is of brother, a male blood-relative; whether older or younger is a secondary qualifier, which does not change the essential identity.
      2. In Japanese, the names are different, suggesting perhaps that Japanese people think of “older brother” and “younger brother” as two quite different identities.
    3. Straw man argument: this is often used in propaganda so it is useful to be aware of it. Avoid using it yourself in academic writing. Here is the more complete explanation on Japanese Wikipedia: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/ストローマン
    4. The importance of defining terms: see this example
    5. Free writing: how was your Golden Week?
    6. “What is study?”
      1. Who? What? When? Where? Why?
    7. 1-to-1 conferencing
    8. Collected homework

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AW1: WEEK 3, APRIL 26TH, 2019

Homework

Explain why you do or did something important in your life, e.g. why you decide to come to KPU, why you joined a club, why you started to do a part-time job, why you went abroad, etc.

Remember: you are writing for university-educated English-speaking readers who may not be familiar with details of Japan and Japanese culture, so you need to explain not only your reasons but also your values – what is important to you and why.

Today’s class

  1. Thinking academically
    1. Ask questions before judging, writing or speaking
      1. in order to get accurate information
      2. (in addition to the wh- questions) cui bono?
    2. Define your terms, e.g. what exactly is the meaning of business in the expression “mind your own business”
    3. Categorize: what is “obon”? – It’s a Japanese religious festival. What is “kama-meshi”? – It’s a rice dish in which various ingredients are added to the rice and then they are all cooked together in a pot.
    4. Refute the argument
      1. E.g. “I disagree with Sakuragi because many people who do not graduate from university also contribute to society.” – This is true, but it does not refute Sakuragi’s argument because Sakuragi did not say only university graduates contribute. The writer is not responding to what Sakuragi actually said, but from what the writer assumed Sakuragi intended.
  2. Free writing:
    1. Why do people take off their shoes before entering a Japanese house or home?
    2. Why do so many people visit shrines or temples at New Year, even though they are not religious?
    3. Why do many people in Japan bow even in their cars or on the phone?
  3. Suggestions for learning about Western principles:
    1. The story of Genesis in the Bible, especially the events in the Garden of Eden
    2. The ten commandments (in the Bible, in the book “Exodus”)
    3. The movie Shane
    4. The 1943 novel (and 1949 movie) “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. There is a Japanese translation.
    5. Addendum. These Japanese books are good for learning about principles in general and why they are useful and important:
      1. プリンシプルのない日本
      2. ドラゴン桜 漫画
      3. ドラゴン桜 (TV drama)
      4. エンゼルバンク ドラゴン桜外伝
      5. インベスターZ


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AW1: WEEK 2, APRIL 19TH, 2019

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