In


July 22, 2020

For the last few lessons this semester we developed reading, listening, note-taking and writing skills by practicing the integrated skills type of question found in the TOEFL test.

During the summer you should apply these skills to doing your research for your thesis. Take good notes and keep a database of your sources so that you can compile notes and a list of references for your thesis. Begin writing your thesis and be ready to show drafts of your work to the teacher in the second semester.

Contact the teacher during the summer break if you have any questions.

2020/04/23

About plans for teaching online during the corona virus pandemic

This page is a course guide and teaching supplement for my students at Seijo University, Tokyo, Japan. It is not a part of the official website of the university, as it contains information related only to my classes.

The syllabus listed below was made after the corona virus pandemic forced a change in the original plan. During the first semester, the course will be taught online with some changes made to the original plan. I hope to keep my teaching technology as simple as possible, but we will hold some online classes during the scheduled class time (Wednesday 13:00-14:30), if all the students can access the online class sessions.

The original syllabus was a plan for 15 classes, but this semester we will have only 12 classes. We will try to cover the content of 15 lessons in 12 lessons, so you may have to do some extra homework. Changes are likely on a weekly basis as we adapt to the online learning experience.

I think most of my teaching will be done by giving students research and writing assignments to hand in each week. I will communicate with students through this website, the university's WebClass system, and email, phone calls, and internet phone calls (Skype, Google Hangout, LINE and so on). I will be available to communicate with students every Wednesday, 13:00-14:30 (the usual class time) and other times, if necessary. The way to communicate will be flexible, depending on the students' access to computers, WiFi and so on. Because this is a writing course, you will of course need to have a computer. Personal computers are not required for some courses, but there is no way a student could do research for a thesis and write a thesis efficiently without a computer.

The number of students in this course is usually low, so I will change my plans according to the students' abilities and interests. In fact, there are usually just one or two students, so I can change the course to give individualized help. The plan in the syllabus might change quite a lot. However, keep in mind that you need to be at an advanced level of English if you plan to write your thesis in English.

One problem with online (or remote) teaching is that it is difficult to confirm a student's identity and to confirm that he or she is the author of the assignments handed in. When we meet "on camera" I will ask you to hold up your student card beside your face so that I can confirm your status as a student at the university and in this course.

You have to check three things regularly: this website, WebClass, and your university email account (studentnumber@u.seijo.ac.jp).

REVISED SYLLABUS FOR 2020-21 (WITH CHANGES DUE TO THE CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC)

THIS SYLLABUS WILL BE ADAPTED AS NECESSARY DURING THE CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC. WE WILL TRY TO FOLLOW THE PLAN IN THE ORIGINAL SYLLABUS, BUT CHANGES MAY BE NECESSARY, DEPENDING ON PROBLEMS THAT ARISE WITH ONLINE LEARNING EXPERIENCES.

Thesis Writing Skills

Thesis Writing [a] Spring Semester

Course Description

This elective course is intended for any student who wishes to write his or her graduation thesis in English. Eligible students will have attained high grades in previous English courses and they will have to demonstrate good writing ability in the first class in order to succeed in this challenging course. The content will be adapted to the needs of the students. It will cover all stages of writing a thesis: (1) conception, (2) research, (3) citation and referencing, (4) outlining, (5) writing drafts, (6) revising and (7) writing an abstract and formatting the final document. Steps (1)-(4) will be covered in the first semester [a] and steps (5)-(7) will be covered in the second semester [b]. 

Course Goals

Students will develop the planning and research skills necessary to write a graduation thesis in English, and they will continue to improve their writing skills and use of English grammar. During the first semester, they will produce an outline of an original graduation thesis to be written in English. 

Teaching Methods              

The method, materials and approach will be extremely flexible, as these will depend on the existing skills of the students and the plans they develop for writing a thesis. Students should not think of this course as an error-checking or proofreading service provided by a teacher who is a native speaker of English. Students will be expected to diligently apply the rules of grammar and word usage and to check their own work for errors before they submit it to the teacher.

Writing a graduation thesis will be more challenging than the shorter writing assignments of other courses. Because the number of enrolled students is likely to be low, plans for this course will be adapted to meet the students' individual abilities. 

Course Schedule

1.       Course introduction, assessment of student needs and abilities, conception of a research project, defining the scope of the research, developing hypotheses.

2.       Writing an outline. Language skills: proofreading a document for errors with plural and singular nouns and subject-verb agreement.

3.       Common referencing styles. Software tools for citation and referencing. Language skills: proofreading a document for errors with definite and indefinite articles.

4.       Progress report: discussion of students' research thus far. Evaluating the reliability of sources.

5.       Other research tools: search engines, note-taking software, citation tools (Evernote, Zotero and similar products). Language skills: proofreading a document for errors in use of active and passive voice.

6.       Using tools for researchers in Microsoft Office and other office software. Language skills: proofreading a document for errors with modal verbs.

7.       Effective use of dictionaries and automated translation tools. Language skills: proofreading a document for errors with conditional and hypothetical statements.

8.       Progress report: discussion of students' research thus far. Language skills: proofreading a document for errors with conditional and hypothetical statements.

9.       Mastering objective and de-personalized writing, use of passive voice and the "dummy subject" it for this purpose.

10.   Elements of a research paper: title page, acknowledgements, table of contents, abstract, tables, charts, appendices, bibliography, footnotes and endnotes.

11.   Review of examples of a research document elements: title page, acknowledgements, table of contents, abstract, tables, charts, appendices, bibliography, endnotes.

12.   Language skills: explaining cause and effect, use of nouns and causative verbs to explain cause and effect.

13.   Language skills: proofreading a document for errors in morphology (errors with parts of speech, using noun, verb, adjective and adverb forms correctly, for example: decision, decide, decisive, decisively.

14.   Progress report: discussion of students' work thus far.

15.   Progress report: discussion of students' work thus far, establishing goals for the time between semesters. 

Self-study outside of Course Hours (Assignments, Preparation and Review etc.) 

During this semester the students will be busy gathering and reading sources for the writing of a thesis, most of which will be done in the second semester. 

Assessment Criteria and Methods       

Completion of writing assignments 30 

Completion of research and readings on schedule 40 

Participation, readiness to discuss research progress each week 30 

The thesis submitted at the end of the academic year will be evaluated separately from the work done in this course. Evaluation in this course will be based on the student's success in completing tasks on schedule and working constantly toward the goal of completing a graduation thesis.

Textbook      

No textbook is required for this course.

Expectations for Enrolled Students    

This course has been planned with an expectation that most students will want to register for both semesters [a] and [b]. Thus the plan for the second semester [b] continues from what is planned for the first semester [a]. Students will benefit the most from taking both semesters, but they may choose to register for only one semester. A flexible arrangement can be made for any students who choose to register for only one semester.

Method to Contact the Lecturer          

riches[at]seijo.ac.jp or WebClass

Building 3, room 3813

Monday 14:40-16:10, Wednesday 10:40-12:10, Friday 9:00-10:30

Thesis Writing [b] Autumn Semester

Course Description 

This elective course is intended for any student who might wish to write his or her graduation thesis in English. Eligible students will have attained high grades in previous English courses and they will have to demonstrate good writing ability in the first class in order to succeed in this challenging course. The content will be adapted to the needs of the students. It will cover all stages of writing a thesis: (1) conception, (2) research, (3) citation and referencing, (4) outlining, (5) writing drafts, (6) revising and (7) writing an abstract and formatting the final document. Steps (1)-(4) will be covered in the first semester [a] and steps (5)-(7) will be covered in the second semester [b].

Course Goals            

Students will develop the planning and research skills necessary to write a graduation thesis in English, and they will continue to improve their writing skills and knowledge of English grammar. During the first semester, they will produce an outline of an original graduation thesis to be written in English. During the second semester the research and planning phase will be mostly complete, so students will concentrate on writing and revising drafts of their theses. 

Teaching Methods 

The method, materials and approach will be extremely flexible, as these will depend on the existing skills of the students and the plans they develop for writing a thesis. Students should not think of this course as an error-checking or proofreading service provided by a teacher who is a native speaker of English. Students will be expected to diligently apply the rules of grammar and word usage and to check their own work for errors before they submit it to the teacher. Writing a graduation thesis will be more challenging than the shorter writing assignments of other courses. 

Course Schedule

1.       Course introduction. Progress report: discussion of students' work during the break between semesters.

2.       Elements of paragraphs: topic sentences, elaboration, examples, repetition, conclusion, transition to the next paragraph.

3.       The nested structure of linear texts: looking at texts as containers of information that have labels, elaborated content, examples, repetition and conclusions.

4.       Ways of reporting and presenting data, dates, names and other factual information in tables, graphs, lists and so on. Submit draft of work done thus far.

5.       Progress report. Discussion of students' work thus far.

6.       Writing skill: introducing and including examples.

7.       Writing skill: describing sequences of events.

8.       Writing skill: ways to write comparisons and contrasts, supporting these with tables and graphics.

9.       In-text citations: including the words of other writers, ways to do citation, paraphrasing, quoting, block quotes, where to put the reference anchor, and so on. Submit draft of work done thus far.

10.   Progress report. Discussion of students' work thus far. Distinguishing the words and ideas of others from those of the author, avoiding plagiarism. Writing tentatively: language structures for expressing uncertainty about hypotheses and research findings.

11.   "Further research is necessary:" Describing the findings and limitations of research, making tentative conclusions.

12.   Examples of uncertainty and understatement in the conclusions of research papers. Students submit penultimate (nearly final) draft of work done thus far.

13.   Progress report: final review of students' drafts before they submit their theses. Final draft to be submitted by a deadline yet to be announced (mid-December).

14.   Course assessment. Group discussion about the year-long process of writing a thesis. Students self-evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, which parts of the course they found useful.

15.   Final writing skill assessment. Students will do a brief in-class writing assessment task in order to contrast their writing with the assessment task they did in the first week of April.

Self-study outside of Course Hours (Assignments, Preparation and Review etc.) 

With the research and planning phase completed in the first semester, students will focus this semester on writing and continually revising. It will be very important to stay on schedule with the plans for both the first and second semester. 

Assessment Criteria and Methods       

Completion of writing exercises 30 

Completion of research, reading and preparation on schedule 40

Participation 30 

The thesis submitted at the end of the academic year will be evaluated separately from the work done in this course. The teacher of this writing course is not the thesis advisor. Evaluation in this course will be based on the student's success in completing tasks on schedule and working constantly toward the goal of completing a graduation thesis. 

Textbook       

No textbook required. 

Expectations for Enrolled Students 

This course has been planned with an expectation that most students will want to register for both semesters [a] and [b]. Thus the plan for the second semester [b] continues from what is planned for the first semester [a]. Students will benefit the most from taking both semesters, but they may choose to register for only one semester. A flexible arrangement can be made for any students who choose to register for only one semester. Nonetheless, students are strongly advised to register for both semesters because few students are likely to be able to complete a thesis in English without the support provided during both semesters. 

Method to Contact the Lecturer 

riches[at]seijo.ac.jp or WebClass

Building 3, room 3813

Monday 14:40-16:10, Wednesday 10:40-12:10, Friday 9:00-10:30