Category Archives: 2012 SinE

Studies in English, week 14: January 18th, 2013

Photo credit:
Photo credit:


Re-write your final paper, with correct citations and quotations, and correctly formatted bibliography, print out and bring to class next week (last week).

Today’s class:

Students read and commented on each others’ essays.

Review of the correct format for academic paper.

Studies in English, week 13: January 11th, 2013


  1. Why is this video so popular, do you think? [yframe url=’’]What do you think about it? How did you feel watching it? Write your answers as comments on this blog by Tuesday midnight.
  2. Type your final paper, print it out and bring to class next week.

Today’s class:

  1. How to write a bibliography using MLA style. (MLA_Sheffner.)
  2. How to quote and cite articles.
  3. Answer these questions on loose-leaf paper. Then discuss with your classmates in groups of 4.
    1. Who are you writing for? Who will read your essay? Answer: Mr. Sheffner and your fellow students.
    2. What is the main purpose of your essay?
    3. What is the strong point of your essay?
    4. What is the weak point of your essay?
    5. What feedback do you want from your classmates?
  4. Watch the video. Why is it so popular?   44,902,860 views (再生回数)as of Jan. 11th, 2013.


Studies in English, week 12: December 21st, 2012


  1. Send me an email by Monday midnight: what advice or suggestions would you give to
    1. next year’s “Studies in English (Linguistics)” students?
    2. me (to make next year’s class better)?
  2. Write the first draft of your research essay (the essay is due Jan. 18th)
  3. Your research essay must
    1. be all in English
    2. be typed
    3. be 2~4 pages of A4
    4. be double-spaced
    5. include your name, class name (SinE) and the date at the top right or left corner
    6. include a bibliography (all the books, websites etc that you used for your essay AND for your presentations). Click here to download a PDF with details of how to write a bibliography)
      1. the bibliography must be in English. Japanese books must be written in “roma-ji” and include the translator’s name (in roma-ji), as well as publishing company and publishing year.
    7. be on the same topic as your 2nd presentation
    8. include quotes in English from the books or websites you have used.
  4. DON’T copy and paste (click-click!) from the Internet.
  5. DON’T use translation software. Your English is waaay better than any translation software. Believe me.

Today’s class:

Presentations from the remaining students.

A very happy holiday to you all

Students’ advice for next year: Continue reading Studies in English, week 12: December 21st, 2012

Studies in English, week 11: December 14th, 2012


  1. Write a comment on your blog (or this blog if you cannot access your blog):
    1. what did you learn from other students’ presentations?
    2. what did you think of your own presentation (反省)?
    3. Deadline is Tuesday midnight.
  2. Start writing your research paper. Unlike the presentations, your paper should be all in English. 2~4 pages of A4, double-spaced, with bibliography (all sources must be listed in English or “roma-ji”). Keep the same topic as for your 2nd presentation. Deadline is Jan. 18th.

Today’s class:

Student presentations. About half the class presented today. The quality was high,  though obviously some were better than others.

Watch Benny Lewis and another polyglot, Moses McCormick, speak a dozen languages with native speakers at the mall:

[yframe url=’’]


Studies in English, week 10: December 7th, 2012


Prepare your presentation for next week. This will be your last oral presentation this year.

Today’s class:

Your learning diaries (blogs) are 20% of your final grade. Wake up, guys!

From the syllabus:

Attendance and participation. 20% Learning diaries 20%.

Some tips for presenting:

  • don’t read your paper (it’s boring!)
  • if you make a handout, don’t read the handout (it’s boring! We can read, thank you!)
  • put key information on the handout or Powerpoint slide.
  • If you just read your presentation, repeat the key points 4 or 5 times.
  • speak slowly, and clearly.
  • give your sources, and check them first. It’s your responsibility to check your sources.
  • make sure you know the difference between fact and opinion, and tell your listeners which is which.
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Studies in English, week 9: November 30th, 2012


  • On your blog by Tuesday midnight write:
    • your comments about today’s class (especially the video)
    • a short progress report about your research:
      • your topic
      • what you learned
      • where you have searched
      • problems, difficulties and questions you are having about your research

Today’s class

  1. How long does it take to learn to speak a foreign language?
  2. What is the best way to learn to speak a foreign language?
  3. How can you best learn to speak a foreign language when you are not in the country where that language is spoken?
  4. What does it mean to “be able to speak” a foreign language?
  5. Watch this video polyglot Benny Lewis, who could only speak English when he was 21, and answer the following questions:
    1. How many languages can he speak?
    2. What is his “secret” (his suggestion for the best way to learn to speak a foreign language quickly)?
    3. How long does he take to learn a foreign language?
    4. Do you think he can really speak all those languages?
  6. In your groups, discuss your research projects: what is your topic, what have you learned, where have you looked, and what
    Linda Sherman with Benny Lewis
    Linda Sherman with Benny Lewis (Photo credit: itsdifferent4girls)

    problems or questions do you have?

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Studies in English, week 8: November 16th, 2012


(No class next week; next class will be Nov. 30th)

  1. On your blog,
    1. check your blog for comments
    2. write your responses to today’s class by Sunday(18th) midnight:
      1. the first group discussion (random groups discussing about your research project)
      2. freewriting about your personal history and experience with words, language and communication
      3. the 2nd group discussion (with people who have chosen the same or similar topic to you)
    3. continue researching your topic
    4. update your blog with your learning diary by Wednesday (28th) midnight: like in a regular diary, write about what progress you have made on your research project,
      1. what you have tried to find out,
      2. where you looked,
      3. who you talked to (professors, classmates doing a similar project, your parents, etc),
      4. what you found,
      5. what problems or difficulties you had, questions you have, etc., etc.
    5. Don’t forget to write the names of books you have used and the URL of websites you havevisited. This information might be of help to other students, and their information might help you. Share your knowledge. Help each other. This is what your blog is for, as well as to keep a record of what you have done.
    6. Make sure you have comments enabled on your blog, so that others can leave comments.

Today’s class

  1. In random groups of 4~6 students, discuss what progress you have made on your research since last week
  2. Freewriting (10 minutes): write about your personal relationship with words, language and communication.
  3. Get together with other students researching the same or similar topic as you.

(Survey has moved to here)

Studies in English, week 7: November 9th, 2012

If you enjoy reading this blog entry, or find it interesting or useful,  please leave a comment (in either English or Japanese). Thank you.


  1. Continue to research your topic
    1. what did you find out about your topic this week (Nov. 9th – Nov. 15th)?
    2. Write a short report on your blog (or on this blog if you cannot access your own blog)
      1. What did you find out?
      2. Where did you look (be specific 具体的に)?
      3. deadline is Thursday midnight (23:59).

Today’s class:

  1. Presentation #1 by most people in the class. If you did not present today, you can present next week (last chance).
  2. Mini-lectures on
    1. pragmatics (Grice‘s four maxims; speech acts, direct and indirect; discourse analysis; adjacency pairs) and read about Grice on Japanese Wikipedia.
    2. language acquisition.
      1. One way researchers can study how human beings learn to speak a language is by studying people who did NOT learn to speak a language. There have been a few documented cases of children growing up without learning to speak. What happened? What was missing in their environment or in their brain?
      2. One famous case is that of Kaspar Hauser (a movie was made about this: see below).
      3. Another famous (but fictional) case is that of Mowgli, the boy brought up by wolves, who is the main character in a book by 19th-century British Nobel Prize winning author Rudyard Kipling (who also wrote “How the Alphabet was Made” and “How the First Letter was Written“) – The Jungle Book (click the link to read the Wikipedia entry). Mowgli grows up speaking wolf language but learns human language later on. Could this be possible, knowing what we know now about human language-learning?
      4. Another famous but fictional case is that of Tarzan, a young boy whose parents die in the African jungle and who is brought up by apes. 89 Tarzan movies have been made as well as TV dramas, but the books are much better than any of them.  Tarzan grows up speaking ape-language but learns human language later on. Could this be possible, knowing what we know now about human language-learning?
      5. Yet another fictional example of a feral child is Peter Pan.
      6. (Personal note: I saw the Jungle Book movie when I was a child, and I still remember all the songs. My mother read me the Jungle Book when I was very young. She read it to me in her native language – French. Later, I read the stories in English, and later still, I read them again in French, so I have a strong personal connection with these stories. They are also very famous and well known in Britain and other English-speaking countries. I also read the Tarzan stories when I was a teenager. I think I collected the entire set.)
      7. Children who have grown up with very little human contact are called feral children (click the link to read the Wikipedia entry on this).
    3. do men and women speak differently all around the world?
  3. Freewriting: about your own presentation and your classmates’, and today’s mini-lectures, plus anything else you want to say.

Did you enjoy reading this blog entry? Was it interesting? Useful? Please leave a comment (in either English or Japanese). Thank you.

Cover of Siobhan Chapman's book on Paul Grice, philosopher and linguist
Paul Grice, 1913 – 1988

Continue reading Studies in English, week 7: November 9th, 2012

Studies in English, week 5: October 26th, 2012

  1. Sentence structure diagramRandom groups of 5 students: discussed their research topic
    1. what you know
    2. what you want to know
    3. what you have researched (found out) so far and where/how (library? Internet? What did you look for? Successes? Failures?
  2. Write up your notes about what you discussed in your groups. Did you get any help from your classmates? Did you ask questions, make comments or suggestions to your classmates?
  3. Mini-lecture on sentence structure (from chapter 7, pp 61-4, “Introducing Linguistics”).


  1. Write up your notes (see #2 above) on your blog by Tuesday midnight.
    1. If you don’t have a blog, cannot write to your blog, or don’t want to keep your learning diary on your blog, you may write your journal in a notebook. Write in your notebook each week and show me your notebook each Friday.
  2. Start researching for your presentation (Nov. 9th).