Technical Writing & Presentations ’17

Overview of Course

The goals of this class are to improve your writing and spoken interaction skills in English, with a focus on the kinds of writing and speaking STEM students like you will have to do in your careers.

By the end of this class, students will be able to:

  1. maintain a social conversation about concrete topics of personal interest using a good range of simple English,
  2. make a short technical presentation in simple words and sentences using only brief notes,
  3. write coherent instructions telling people how to do things with vocabulary and grammar of immediate relevance,
  4. write a simple, well-constructed and logical argument,
  5. give a good answer to an “Eiken” style interview question.

There will be four spoken English assignments (3 presentations and 1 interview) and three written assignments. Written work is to be printed out and double-spaced.


The CEFR-J framework is the basis for the writing and presentation activities in this class.


A great many people can use more than one language. In some places in the world, such as Europe, many people can use several languages to greater or lesser extents. Typically, a person has different language abilities in different languages. (For example, I can speak some Japanese, but I can read and write very little.) The Common European Framework Reference (CEFR) is a guide for understanding what a person “can do” in a language. This guide is used by schools, governments, and companies around the world and for many different languages. It’s becoming more and more important in Japan, too.

The CEFR-J “target range” for this class:  A2.2 ~ B1.1 Level (TOEIC 255 ~ 400 )

Weekly Outline

  1. Introduction / Overview; Goals of the course; CEFR-J Self Assessment;”selfies”; partner interviews
  2. Spoken Assignment 1: Your Partner Introduction; Well-formed Sentences; Partner Introduction Write ups.
  3. Written Assignment 1: Your Partner Introduction (Print); Well-formed Paragraphs
  4. Comparison Assignment; Information Mapping (Hunter Maps)
  5. Spoken Assignment 2: Comparisons
  6. Written Assignment 2: Comparison Paragraphs
  7. Instruction: Problem, Solution & How To
  8. Workshop
  9. Spoken Assignment 3: Problem Solution & How To (PowerPoint)
  10. Logical Arguments: from Paragraphs to Essays; The Five Paragraph Essay
  11. Writing Workshop
  12. Writing Workshop: Draft 1 Conferences (2 printed copies)
  13. Writing Workshop
  14. Written Assignment 3: 5-Paragraph Essays Due (start of class); Structuring an answer to an interview question; Interview Schedule
  15. Spoken Assignment 4: One on one interviews
  16. Make ups & late papers: Final Thoughts

Grading & Attendance

My grading policy is that it should be easy to pass the class (C), but very difficult to get the highest score (AA).

C: (60~69%) You did all the assignments, but at a less than average level.

B: (70~79%) You did all the assignments at an average level.

A: (80~89%) You did all the assignments much better than average.

AA: (90~100%) You blew my mind.

[Note: Graduate students are expected to perform at a higher level than undergraduates.]

Because this is a class for 3rd and 4th year (and graduate) students, I am flexible about due dates. You must complete all assignments by the last day of class. If you are going to miss a deadline, however, please let me know before the deadline.

Classroom Language

I expect  you to try to communicate in English at whatever level of English you have. I will try to speak to you in simple English, but if there is something you don’t understand, please let me know: “What do you mean, Mr. D?”