Academic English Intermediate

A dinosaur
LecturerChad NILEP, Associate Professor
DepartmentInstitute of Liberal Arts & Sciences, 2015 Fall
Recommended for:School of Science (11.5 hours / session One session / week 15 weeks / semester)

Course overview

The objective of this course is to develop intermediate English reading and writing skills related to the study of university-level arts and sciences. The aim is to allow Nagoya University students to acquire abilities appropriate for success in a research based university. Attention is given to essay writing and logical text construction. Students learn about both reading for essential information and constructing convincing arguments in their own writing. Students broaden their abilities to read English materials, to write well organized papers, and to use appropriate English expressions.

Key Features

Students read both extensively and intensively. For extensive reading, each student chooses books, magazines, news articles, or other materials that interest her or him personally. Students read these materials every week, and write a journal to record how many pages they read, what new vocabulary they learned, and what ideas interested them.

For intensive reading, students read one essay each week about basic scientific topics, answer specific questions about this reading, and discuss that information in small groups. Experiments or demonstrations in class are designed to deepen understanding of these topics. Students are then required to write essays or lab reports about selected topics.

Students work in groups to plan, present, and lead an activity related to one unit in the textbook. Each group chooses a unit and then designs a simulation, experiment, or other activity to help the rest of the class learn more about the unit’s topic. After the group presents its activity, each group member writes a report describing the topic, the procedures of the presentation, and the goals of the activity.

Course content

This class focuses on English reading and writing. Students read articles and discuss them in class. They work in groups to give presentations. Students write two papers and read extensively outside of class.

The course is taught entirely in English. Students do not study about English; they use English as a tool to learn about scientific communication. Students are required to read, write, and speak English as much as possible.


Ian Bowring et alia (2014) Our Place in the Universe. Seibido. ISBN 978-4-7919-1015-1.


Each week during class we will have some expansion activity. This may be a simulation, an experiment, a video, or some other activity to learn more about the week's topic.

Each time we do an expansion activity in class, you should keep notes. Write down what you did and what you figured out during the activity. Use English as much as you can.

Two times during the term you will write a paper. The paper will be based on one expansion activity and your notes about it. Choose one activity and write a one page report about it.

In the case of an experiment or simulation, be sure to include the purpose of the experiment, the procedures (what you did), the results, and the conclusions (what you learned by thinking about the results).

In the case of a presentation or video, be sure to include the theme or main point, the specific evidence given in support of the theme, and the conclusions. Explain what you learned from the video presentation.

Group presentations

One week during class you will plan and lead some expansion activity related to a unit in the textbook. Working with a group, you will choose a unit from the textbook and design a simulation, an experiment, or some other activity to help the class learn more about the unit's topic.

Choose a group of 7-9 students. With your group, choose one of the following units from the textbook. Then work together to design and plan an activity.

  1. Unit 2. Tides
  2. Unit 5. Climate modeling
  3. Unit 6. Dark Matter and Dark Energy
  4. Unit 9. The Hazards of Space Travel
  5. Unit 10. The Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn
  6. Unit 11. Space Junk
  7. Unit 12. Saving the Kakapo
  8. Unit 18. Lasers
  9. Unit 20. Keeping Us Alive for Longer
  10. Unit 21. Robots
  11. Unit 22. Plastics

Your activity should take about 45 minutes to one hour to complete. The rest of the time students will discuss the textbook.

After your group presents its activity, you will write a 1-2 page report about it. Be sure to include the topic, the procedures of the presentation (what you did or what you asked students in the class to do), and the goals of the activity (what you hope other students learned).

Also in your report, evaluate each member of the group. Write your name, how much time you spent working on the presentation, and what grade you think you deserve (S, A, B, or C). Then write the name of each member of your group and what grade you think she or he deserves.

Your grade is based on both the effectiveness of the group presentation and your report.

Course Schedule

Session Contents
1 Impact craters. Using English as a tool.
2 Great Pacific garbage patch. Paragraphs.
3 Life in extreme environments. Writing lab reports.
4 Birth of genetics. Plagiarism.
5 Monarch butterfly migration. Writing essays.
6 Natural selection. The writing process.
7 Light in the sky. Working in groups.
8 Coral reefs. Logical argumentation.
9 Rockets. Unity in writing.
10 Human population. Coherence in writing.
11 Renewable energy. Public speaking techniques.
12 Hazards of space travel. Group presentation 1.
13 Plastics. Group presentation 2.
14 Dark matter and dark energy. Group presentation 3.
15 Keeping us alive longer. Group presentation 4. Robots: smarter than humans? Group presentation 5.

Lecture Handouts











Course grade is based on two written assignments, a group presentation, a reading journal, self-study, standardized test scores, and work in class.

Last updated

April 16, 2017