Tag Archives: week 5

Academic Writing I, week 5: May 9th, 2014

Kamogawa River, May 9th, 2014
Kamogawa River, May 9th, 2014


  • Rewrite your essay, print it out and hand it in next time (May 23rd).
  • (If you were absent today, read my comments below before re-writing your essay.)
  • If you were absent today, email me your essay as soon as possible.

Today’s class:

  1. In groups of 4~5, students read each other’s essays and commented positively on them.
  2. Students wrote a few sentences about what it was like to read classmates’ essays and give and receive feedback.
  3. Textbook exercises:
    1. p. 27 Practice 9, 10, 11
    2. p. 34 Practice 16
    3. p. 36 Practice 18
    4. p. 37 Practice 19
  4. Some of Sheffner’s comments on students’ writing:
    1. In English-speaking countries, only children (and poets, sometimes) write a new sentence on a new line. I understand it may be common practice in Japan, but in English it makes the writer look childish. This applies to emails as well, by the way.
    2. In English, expressions of time usually come at the end of a sentence rather than the beginning as in Japanese. E.g.: “I went to Nagano last week” (rather than “Last week, I went to Nagano”).
    3. Don’t use “so” when you mean “very”. Use “so” as a conjunction, e.g. “Last week was Golden Week, so I went on a trip to Nagano”, or use it in the construction “so that…”
    4. When writing about yourself and other people, the convention in English is to put yourself last, e.g. “My sister and I”, not “I and my sister”, or “Keita, Kyoko, Akiko and I…”, not “I, Keita, Kyoko and Akiko”.
    5. Update: When a car driver wants to turn left or right, the driver indicates this wish by using a signal – the flashing orange indicator. car_lights_rear But in writing in English, it is not always necessary to signal what you are going to do. E.g., it is not necessary to write (or to say) “Now I will introduce myself.” Just introduce yourself directly, without the “signal”.
      1. How can you learn when to signal in English and when it is not necessary? By reading lots of English.
    6. In English, a sentence is a complete idea. “So I went to Nagano” is not a complete idea, only half an idea, therefore it cannot be a sentence on its own. “Because it was Golden Week” is also not a complete idea; it is part of the idea “I went to Nagano last week”, and therefore should not be a sentence on its own. Short rule: Avoid using “Because”, “So”, and “And” at the beginning of English sentences.
    7. Generally speaking, unless the reader is your mother or some other member of your family, or your best friend (and you would not use academic writing style when writing to these people, probably), the reader is not interested in you, the writer. Therefore, a title like “Why I study English” is not going to interest most readers. Who cares why you study English?! Therefore, please think about your title and your opening sentences, i.e. your “hook” (see textbook p. 29), and catch the reader’s interest. E.g. “My Grandmother’s Diary”, or “The Shocking but True Reason Why I Study English”. Of course, the content of your essay should also be of interest to an academic reader!


Today, I mentioned that to seriously improve your English writing skills, there is no alternative to reading and writing a lot. I suggest reading easy materials that you can understand 90% of without a dictionary (i.e., English materials that you don’t need a dictionary to read).

I also mentioned some blogs:

  • some English blogs written by Japanese people living in the Nara area, and
  • some videos of an Irishman who regularly learns new languages, including Japanese, Chinese and Arabic.

Here are my Nara Lady English Bloggers:

And here are some videos of Benny Lewis, the polyglot Irishman:

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Academic Writing II – week 4, October 25th, 2013


Finish writing your persuasive essay, type it and bring it to class next time, November 8th.

Today’s class:

  1. Read the sample essay about the rare New Zealand bird, and notice the structure, especially what is in the conclusion.
  2. How to avoid using personal pronouns (“I, you, he/she/it, we, they” etc) in formal, academic writing.
  3. How the final, silent “e” in English words affects pronunciation of preceding vowels, and how English prevents this influence.
  4. Read your partner’s first draft and comment on it.

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Academic Writing I – week 5, May 10th, 2013


    1. IF you did not hand in your essay on Friday, email me your essay as soon as possible.
    2. Email me your comment about today’s class – about reading other students’ essays, commenting on them, and getting comments from others.
    3. I forgot to collect your free writings about your experiences of writing this first essay. You can email it to me with your comment about today’s class, or you can give it to me next Friday.  Email deadline is Tuesday midnight.
    4. textbook p. 27 Practice 8, 9 & 10.

today’s class:

      1. 5 mins free writing: what was it like to write the essay?
      2. edit (3-4 mins)
      3. in groups of 7 or 8, exchange essays, read and leave a comment
      4. read aloud the sample essay on pp 15-16
      5. p. 25 Practice 8 – outlining
      6. p. 26 E:
        1. don’t begin an English sentence with a transition word like “so, but, because, yet, and”. You may begin a sentence with “In addition,” or “However,”

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Academic Writing II – week 5, November 2nd, 2012

Class cancelled

Sorry, guys and gals. Today’s class cancelled, due to

  • typhoon
  • kidnapped by aliens from Jupiter
  • the Black Death
  • duties at my home school

Due today: your comparison-contrast essay.

  • In small groups, you will read each others’ essays and comment on them.
  • Each group will choose 1 or 2 essays which they think are good.
  • Free-writing on the experience of writing this essay over the past month.


  • Read chapter 4, especially the sample essay on pages 91-2.
  • (Optional) If you typed your essay, please send it to me by email.

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Academic Writing I – week 5, May 18th, 2012


College paper
College essay in MS Word
Don't forget double-spaced
Don't forget double-spaced!

Today’s report is by Ms. Ishihara. Today, we skipped the sections about outlining. I said that hardly anyone actually uses outlines. However, it may be useful to you to know how to do this, so I will go over this part briefly next week.

Today’s work

  1. We checked the homework.
  2. We did in the textbook chapter 1, section A, Practice 4 & 5 p.22,  section E, Practice 9, 11 p.27~28, section F, Practice 12, p.28~29.
  3. We read section E “Use transitions”, p.26~27.
  4. We corrected the errors and added more lines in our essay.


Re-write your essay (second draft) in Microsoft Word, and e-mail it to Mr. Sheffner, by Wednesday May 23rd, midnight (23:59).

Document titles and E-mail subjects are “AW Essay Ⅰ Second draft My Name”.

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