- 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.
- In groups of 4~5, students read each other’s essays and commented positively on them.
- Students wrote a few sentences about what it was like to read classmates’ essays and give and receive feedback.
- Textbook exercises:
- p. 27 Practice 9, 10, 11
- p. 34 Practice 16
- p. 36 Practice 18
- p. 37 Practice 19
- Some of Sheffner’s comments on students’ writing:
- 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.
- 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”).
- 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…”
- 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”.
- Update: When a car driver wants to turn left or right, the driver indicates this wish by using a signal – the flashing orange indicator. 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”.
- How can you learn when to signal in English and when it is not necessary? By reading lots of English.
- 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.
- 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:
- Cosmos English writing blog
- Green Tomato
- haricot beans’ Tanka blog
- One Time One Meeting
- Sarah’s English Writing Blog
- Stardust English Talk
- Through the Sapphire Sky (tho she doesn’t live in Nara, she writes great blog posts and takes fantastic photos)
And here are some videos of Benny Lewis, the polyglot Irishman:
- Benny’s TEDx talk (with English subtitles)
- Benny speaking Arabic after one week
- Benny speaking Japanese after 6 weeks (and he’s doing all his Japanese learning while living in Spain)
- Benny telling his secret of how to learn to speak any language quickly (e.g. in 3 months). In this video you can see Benny speaking about 10 different languages, all with English subtitles. OK, he’s not perfect, but not bad, eh?
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