Welcome to Advanced Writing Skills for Graduate Study in Mathematics, which is, as the name suggests, a writing-focused course with the specific focus of improving your skill in crafting academic essays for publication in the math world.
The aim of this course is continued development of students' English writing skills. In addition to time spent on vocabulary, style, and structure, this course includes learning about and using language corpora. Having written a total of five essays that will constitute his or her writing portfolio, each student should complete this course with both the knowledge and confidence to create various types of high-quality academic essays.
If you would like (for some inane or perhaps insane reason), here is the course syllabus for your reading pleasure. Of course, I reserve the right to amend it, so please treat this as a guideline.
For those of you that have taken courses from me, you will recall that we have had no textbooks, and in the present course we will also have no textbook. Class material will be available on both Dropbox and Google Drive, and feel free to download, save, print, or otherwise use it. I seldom make paper handouts, but if you prefer paper, please take care of printing files yourself.
You will find course requirements near the bottom of this page.
Hereafter you will find a reasonably detailed synopsis of the various class meetings ("sessions") that we will enjoy this term.
Sure, you were about to ask, right? That, Good People, is a sextant, a very necessary tool for navigation in the days of sailing ships (i.e., in the pre-GPS age). There is, in a most appropriate nod to our faculty, a strong mathematical background to this beautiful tool.
Session #1 (September 21, 2017) — Introduction; Paper Format; Word Advice
As often happens on the first day of class, we'll be speaking in somewhat general terms about our course and some of the topics therein. First, note that this course includes all four skills that appear in academic work: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. There are, of course, certain requirments for this course, as is true for every course; please scroll down to the specific courrse requirements for your enlightenment.
- ✔ Assign self-introducation (due on Sept. 28)
- ✔ Add 10 words to your page in the Class Word Bank.
- ✔ Bring ...
Session #2 (September 28) — Paragraph Structure
In the second half of our session this afternoon, I'd like to provide a brief introduction to corpus linguistics. Because this is a large and growing area in our field, I've opted to add a separate page to only begin to scratch the surface. Follow this link to our resource page with some information on corpus linguistics.
Session #3 (October 5) — Basics of Description; Common EFL Errors; Punctuation
One seemingly simple yet often poorly-done area is description, a skill which requires a good command of some commonly used phrases, adjectives, and a few strategies. In the describing objects file below, we'll find some advice and lots of practice.
In my years of teaching in Japan, I've come across errors that occur repeatedly in students' writing, and today we will talk some about those.
Our final goal today is to talk briefly about the proper use of punctuation in English, which is naturally somewhat different than its usage in Japan
- ✔ Self-introduction due
- ✔ Describing objects
- ✔ Rhetorical functions: Describing process (courtesy of Andy Gillett and the UEfAP website)
- ✔ Writing a process paper (courtesy of Butte College)
- ✔ Punctuation handout
- ✔ Anne punctuation practice
- ✔ Assign descriptive paper (due October 19) about a math or science phenomenon, process, or type of analysis.
Session #4 (October 12) — Narrative Flow; Transitions
Today we will spend most of our time looking at the notion of flow in academic writing. This morning I would like to have you good people consider how your fine paragraphs work together. Recall that we spent some time on topic sentences, with which you should all be quite comfortable. Those will, of course, begin your magnificent series of paragraphs, but those paragraphs must fit together into a coherent entity that will be transparent both to and for your reader.
Let's continue with a look at the language of academic papers. This is an area in which students can sometimes get perilously close to the register used in oral communication, which is generally much more casual. Here we have a useful chapter on academic style, courtesy of Scott Bailey and his book titled Academic Writing: A Handbook for International Students. Below you will also find two of my articles, which we will glance at to check for my use of academic style.
Session #5 (October 19) — Corpus Analysis: Theory & Basics
This morning I'd like to provide a brief introduction to corpus linguistics. Because this is a large and growing area in our field, I've opted to add a separate page to only begin to scratch the surface. Follow this link to our resource page with some information on corpus linguistics.
Let's begin with a look at the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), which comes to use courtesy of Brigham Young University in the US. You will recall that I mentioned a series of very helpful YouTube videos on using this corpus, the first of which is at this link.
Session #6 (October 26) — Complex Sentences
and for your reader.
- ✔ Assign cause & effect paper (due on December 7)
- ✔ (1) Cause & effect explanation
- ✔ (2) C&E practice worksheet
- ✔ (3) C&E vocabulary
- ✔ (4) Healthy Sleeping (example paper)
- ✔ (5) Scramble for Food (example paper)
- ✔ (6) The Keys to Happiness (example paper)
- ✔ (7) Writing CE essays (National Geographic)
Session #7 (November 9) — Style and More Paragraphs
Let's continue with a look at the language of academic papers. This is an area in which students can sometimes get perilously close to the register used in oral communication, which is generally much more casual. As you'll recall, on October 26 we talked some about using complex sentences and also varying the types of sentences you use (or at least being aware thereof). Here we have a useful chapter on academic style, courtesy of Scott Bailey and his book titled Academic Writing: A Handbook for International Students. You might consider the style in my articles, which we will find slightly higher on this page.
A second point I would like to cover today concerns paragraphs and (a) how they are organized internally, and (b) how the paragraphs in a paper are organized. Let's have a good look at this helpful handout on structuring and organizing paragraphs.
OK, Good People, why did I include an image of a ship's helm at this point?
A small sidelight I'd like to address today is writing polite email (or emails if you prefer the plural form with that distinctive S). These are, of course, of considerable importance, and the skill to craft effective messages is an often overlooked skill.
Session #8 (November 16) — Relative Clauses; Hedging
Good morning, everyone. Today our class will be devoted to considering cause-and-effect papers, which are an important tool in the writer's arsenal.
Session #9 (November 30) — Corpus Development
A point for your consideration today: As you're crafting your magnum opus, consider using the strength of corpus data to enhance your work. One source is, of course, your basic dictionary, which will provide you with concise definitions, examples of usage (to an extent), as well as synonyms and antonyms. If you google your search term using "define [term]", you'll find several online dictionaries, among which the Free Online Dictionary and Merriam-Webster are quite useful. For a more extensive set of examples, you would do well to consult some of the corpora available online; I would suggest BYU's corpus resources, the Compleat Lexical Tutor, and finally the myriad tools from Laurence Anthony.
This class will be devoted to consultations with individuals. While I am working with another student, you are to use your time to work on your cause-and-effect paper.
During class today, please complete the usage worksheet below. We will check this before we finish today.
Your homework is to begin working on your masterpiece, which will be due on the final day of class, January 18.
Session #10 (December 7) — Visual Elements
We will also delve some into the world of tables and figures, which is more art than science, I think. Here we have a useful chapter on the use and presentation of visual material.
Session #11 (December 14) — Citations
Good morning, everyone. Today we'll be devoting our class to the very necessary craft of citations. None of your (my, our) work exists in isolation, for we build on those who have come before.
Session #12 (December 21) — Citing Sources; Genre Analysis
Good morning, everyone. Today we have two tasks, the first of which is to construct a genre analysis of the citation sentences in three of my works; you will find these below the links. will walk through two genre analyses. The first is of my work, which includes the three articles below.
Our second task is to add citations to the following three students papers from some years ago. As you'll see, in the respective papers I have removed the citations, and your job is to add citations in appropriate places in the texts.
Student papers sans citations:
Finally, allow me to add a small assignment to your final paper. In the spirit of this so-called genre analysis, you will conduct and submit a genre analysis of your own writing. You may choose the particular area that you analyze, but it should help you improve your paper. You might, for example, look at all the paragraph topic sentences. Another idea is to exam the verbs you used (and especially at the tenses).
Session #13 (January 11) — Citations; Avoiding Plagiarism
Finally, allow me to add a small assignment to your final paper. In the spirit of this so-called genre analysis, you will conduct and submit a genre analysis of your own writing. You may choose the particular area that you analyze, but it should help you improve your paper. You might, for example, look at all the paragraph topic sentences. Another idea is to exam the verbs you used and especially the tenses.
Session #14 (January 18) — Articles & Consultations
In this final class we will talk for a few minutes about the use of articles (a, an, and the), after which you will have time to work on your final paper. I will be providing feedback to indivicuals while you are working.
Class Material & Homework:
- ✔ Article guidance
- ✔ Technical (math) paper due by January 31 (will include genre analysis)
Note that you may revise and resubmit any paper for additional credit.