FAQ

The following questions have been asked by IE Core students in the past. We offer these answers to give you some idea of the activities in the Core section of the IE Program.

1) Journal

2) IE III Weekly Newspaper Report

3) Weekly Discussion Session

4) Reading Two Novels and Writing Book Reports

1) Journal

Q1: What is the purpose of journal writing?

The purpose of this journal writing is to give you the opportunity to improve “fluency” in writing, not grammatical accuracy. Thus, in this exercise, we shall not be concerned about making errors in linguistic form as long as what you write is communicable

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Q2: Can I write about anything?

Yes. Your instructor may occasionally give you a particular topic to write about, but otherwise you may write about whatever you want. In writing your entries on whatever topics, try to describe your feeling, experience, ideas, etc. in a straight forward manner as if you are talking to your friend.

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Q3: How much do I need to write?

I recommend that you write at least two double-spaced pages every day (except Saturdays and Sundays), which makes a total of about 10 pages per week (i.e. 2 pages x 5 days). Try not to spend too much time writing one entry in order for you to continue doing this exercise over the 4-month semester. My personal advice is that you spend about 10 to 15 minutes per entry if you decide to keep your journal on a daily basis.

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Q4: Am I writing the journal just for myself or does someone else read it?

From the second week on, you will be exchanging journals with your “secret friend” assigned by the instructor according to interest, personality. etc. Each of you will have one “secret friend” whose identity will be kept secret until the end of the semester. This means that half of your journal entries will be in your own journal and the other half will be in your partner’s journal.

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Q5: Is my writing corrected by the instructor?

Nope. He will be reading your journal and may occasionally add his comments, but he will not try to “correct” your writing in any way. Don’t worry about spelling and grammar. Your mark is based on the kinds of things you write and how much you write about them.

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Q6: Where do I begin?

First, buy a B5 size notebook at the College Bookstore, and put your “secret name” on the cover page. Your first journal entry will be about the video we will be watching in the first class. Finish the other two (or more) entries at home, and bring in the journal the next week (2nd Week). In case you have trouble finding a topic, here are some suggestions:

* Write about yourself to let your partner know who you are and what you like, etc.
* Write about a book, film or television program.
* Describe one of your classes, or a particular lecture.
* Describe your hometown, or places you visited.
* Describe a friend or family member.
* Express your opinions on social problems or news events.
* Talk about your future.

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2) IE III Weekly Newspaper Report

Q7: Tell me more about it.

This is a weekly homework assignment for IE III students only. You must write one report per week and submit it to your instructor at the beginning of each class.
First, choose one newspaper article that you find interesting or otherwise would like to share with your group members and/or instructor, and write a report consisting of the following six parts:

1. Source: Note the information source in MLA style.*
2. Outline: Give a brief outline of the article using the 5W1H format. (e.g. who, what, where, when, why, and how).
3. Summary: Summarize the article in your own words as if you are describing it to your friend who is not as smart as your are.
4. Words & Phrases: Make a list of new words or expressions that you learned from reading the article.
5. Comments: Describe your reaction, feeling, opinion or criticism about the article or the issue discussed therein.
6. Questions: Prepare at least three questions for discussion in your group.

*MLA style citation sample
Suffstutter, P.J. “Music Rights Get Tangled on the Web.” The Daily News 31 May 2000: A1.

For more details about MLA citation, see: http://webster.commnet.edu/mla/

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Q8: Any other things that I need to know?

Two things. First, don’t forget to make a copy of the article and attach it to your report (See the sample report for more details). Your report will be collected at the beginning of each class (unless you are the discussion leader of the week — see below).

Second, your report will be the basis of your weekly discussion session when you are the discussion leader. If you are the discussion leader of the week, distribute one copy each of your report to your group members and briefly explain what the article is all about.

You may also want to tell them about your comments on the article before you initiate your discussion session by posing the questions you prepared for discussion.

Go to the next section for more details about the weekly group discussion.

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3) Weekly Discussion Session

Q9: What is the purpose of the weekly discussion session?

This is basically an opportunity for you to use English to communicate with your group members. We know that you are already a good listener (which is very important in itself). In this exercise, therefore, we want you to learn to be an active participant in discussion.

You are free to interrupt someone while he or she is speaking, agree or disagree with him/her, ask for clarification, or solicit opinions of other members of your group. The only rule is that you do it in a polite and constructive manner as a “civilized” (^_^) person.

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Q10: How am I evaluated?

Again, you will not be evaluated on the basis of the grammatical (in)accuracy of the language you use. Evaluation is based on the amount and quality of both verbal and non-verbal contributions you make toward the success (or failure) of each discussion session.

In addition to the instructor’s evaluation, each of you will be asked to evaluate your own performance in the weekly discussion session using a self-evaluation form to be provided by the instructor. (This is optional. Your instructor may skip this procedure.)

Spend about 5 minutes to fill in the form and give it to the instructor before the next session of the day (Session 2) begins.

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Q11: Can we talk just about anything?

The discussion is basically thematic, meaning that you will be discussing a particular topic chosen by your discussion leader. This way we will be talking about something substantial — no nonsense talk.

Each member of your group assumes the role of a discussion leader in rotation and, over the 4-month semester, each of you will be acting as the discussion leader at least twice.

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Q12: What is the discussion leader supposed to do; what is his/her role?

The main role of the discussion leader is to initiate and maintain the discussion by posing appropriate questions and encouraging other members of his/her group to participate in the discussion as much as possible. Take it as an opportunity to learn about small group dynamics and what makes a good (or poor) group leader.

In more operational terms, here’s what the weekly discussion leader will do:

  1. Distributes one copy each of his/her newspaper report to the other members of his/her group.
  2. Briefly explain what the article is about and add his/her personal comments if necessary.
  3. e.g. ” The newspaper article I want to talk about today is entitled “To kill or not to kill,” and it’s about… The author insists that… because…. He may be right in saying that…, but I believe….

  4. Initiate discussion by posing the questions he/she prepared for this purpose.
    e.g. “The author of this article is strongly against the notion of capital punishment. Do you agree with him? Why?”
  5. Coordinate the discussion; learn to use appropriate speech actions: e.g. soliciting opinions, back-channeling and paraphrasing other speakers, seeking clarifications, agreeing, disagreeing, expressing doubt, and so on.
  6. When the 40 minutes session is about to finish, wrap up the discussion by briefly summarizing the entire session in about 100 words or so (one minute or less).
    e.g. “Today, we talked about… Although our opinions are divided, we all seem to agree that… Thank you very much.”
  7. Ask the group members to fill in the self-evaluation form. (This is optional. Your instructor may skip this procedure.)
  8. Collect the forms and give them to the instructor.

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Q13: Is the use of Japanese forbidden in any case?

Since this is “Intensive English Course” we naturally expect you to use English as a means of communication. However, restricted use of Japanese can sometime help you learn the target language very quickly and efficiently. For instance, there may be occasions where you are discussing something and are stuck in the middle simply because you can’t come up with an appropriate English word or expression.

In such a case, instead of resorting to the avoidance strategy, you can ask your friends for their help by saying, for example: “What’s the English equivalent of Kouzou Kaikaku?”And if one of your group members knows an appropriate English translation of the term, you learn it on the spot and can continue your discussion the way you wanted.

After all, this is how we learned our first language, and there is no reason to forbid the use of this very important language acquisition strategy. Having said that, I must also warn you not to overuse this strategy — it’s basically for “emergency” situations only.

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4) Reading Two Novels and Writing Book Reports

Q14: What is the purpose of this exercise?

This is basically an opportunity for you to enjoy reading and to learn to read for fluency (rather than accuracy). You are also expected to develop analytical skills through applying literary terms (e.g. setting, point of view, conflict, climax, symbol, irony, and theme) in writing your book reports. More details about these literary terms will be explained in the class by your instructor.

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Q15: What “novels” should I read?

You can select any novel written in English, as long as the number of pages exceeds the minimum set by your teacher. The novel should be written at a level at which you can read comfortably, without needing to consult a dictionary too often. The English Department has purchased over 2000 novels for use in book reports. They are now located in the university library on the Sagamihara Campus (in Building B). Many of them are so-called “graded readers,” specially written with restricted vocabulary and simplified sentence structure for students of English as a Second Language. If you are not certain of your English vocabulary level, you can take on-line vocabulary tests before searching for your book.

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Q16: What is the format of the book report?

Your book report should consist of the following four sections:

  1. Complete bibliographic information in MLA style, including author, title, place of publication, publisher, date, and pages.
  2. An analysis of the seven literary terms: This is the substance of the whole activity and an important tool for students learning how to analyze and discuss literature.
  3. A plot summary: a description of the main events in the story.
  4. Evaluation: your personal response to the book as a piece of literature.

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