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Communication Skills II

Course Description
The aim of this course is to develop students basic communication skills in the context that they will most
need those skills: graduate school. Within the context of going abroad to present a paper on their graduate
research, students will learn skills needed for traveling (e.g. asking for/giving directions, making
reservations), negotiations, survey taking, and problem solving, as well as be introduced to skills involved
in making a presentation at a conference. Additionally, students will learn to start and continue a
conversation naturally, using a number of communication strategies such as asking follow-up questions
and giving extended answers. They will also learn about turn taking and how to control the flow of a
conversation by adding information. Finally, writing skills will be practiced with a short essay using the
Online Homework Submission and Evaluation System.
Course Goals
Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

introduce themselves and talk about familiar, everyday conversation topics

ask for opinions and either agree or disagree politely

discuss various personal and ethical problems and solutions

write an essay and submit it online

conduct one cycle of academic research

Course Can-do Goals

Speaking Skills
1. I can introduce myself in English when meeting someone for the first time.
2. I can talk about familiar, everyday topics: my university and major.
3. I can talk about familiar, everyday topics: my hobbies and interests.
4. I can talk about familiar, everyday topics: my past experiences.
5. I can talk about familiar, everyday topics: my future plans, goals, and predictions.
6. I can talk about familiar, everyday topics: graduate school.
7. I can talk about familiar, everyday topics: regional, domestic, and international issues.
8. I can ask effective follow-up questions.
9. I can ask for and give opinions.

10. I can agree with someone politely.

11. I can disagree with someone politely.
12. I can talk about personal and ethical problems.
13. I can talk about solutions to personal and ethical problems.
14. I can answer questions from an immigration officer.
15. I can make a hotel reservation on the telephone.
16. I can make a restaurant reservation on the telephone.
17. I can order food and drinks from a waiter at a restaurant.
18. I can ask a salesperson at a clothing store for assistance.
19. I can ask for directions when I am lost.
20. I can give directions to someone who is lost.

Writing Skills
1. I know the English name of my university, college, department, and major.
2. I know what Brainstorming and Clustering are and can use them effectively.
3. I can write an introduction for an essay.
4. I can write body paragraphs for an essay.
5. I can write a conclusion for an essay.
6. I can use peer-feedback to rewrite parts of an essay.
7. I can rewrite an essay based on feedback received from a teacher.
Academic Skills
1. I can identify a research question and develop survey questions individually.
2. I can identify a research question and develop survey questions as a member of a group.
3. I can conduct research by gathering survey data from others.
4. I can analyze results by tabulating survey data.
5. I can analyze results by ranking survey data.
6. I can present survey findings individually to peers.
7. I can present survey findings as a member of a group to peers.


The argumentative essay is a genre of writing that requires the student to investigate a topic; collect,
generate, and evaluate evidence; and establish a position on the topic in a concise manner.
Types of Papers: Argument/Argumentative
While some teachers consider persuasive papers and argument papers to be basically the same thing, its
usually safe to assume that an argument paper presents a stronger claimpossibly to a more resistant
For example: while a persuasive paper might claim that cities need to adopt recycling programs, an
argument paper on the same topic might be addressed to a particular town. The argument paper would
go further, suggesting specific ways that a recycling program should be adopted and utilized in that
particular area.
To write an argument essay, youll need to gather evidence and present a well-reasoned
argument on a debatable issue.
How can I tell if my topic is debatable? Check your thesis! You cannot argue a statement of fact, you
must base your paper on a strong position. Ask yourself

How many people could argue against my position? What would they say?

Can it be addressed with a yes or no? (aim for a topic that requires more info.)

Can I base my argument on scholarly evidence, or am I relying on religion, cultural standards, or

morality? (you MUST be able to do quality research!)

Have I made my argument specific enough?

Worried about taking a firm stance on an issue?

Though there are plenty of times in your life when its best to adopt a balanced perspective and try to
understand both sides of a debate, this isnt one of them.
You MUST choose one side or the other when you write an argument paper!
Dont be afraid to tell others exactly how you think things should go because thats what we expect from
an argument paper. Youre in charge now, what do YOU think?

use passionate language

use weak qualifiers like I believe, I feel, or I think

just tell us!

cite experts who agree with you

claim to be an expert if youre not one

provide facts, evidence, and statistics to

support your position

use strictly moral or religious claims as support for your


provide reasons to support your claim

assume the audience will agree with you about any

aspect of your argument

address the opposing sides argument and

refute their claims

attempt to make others look bad (i.e. Mr. Smith is

ignorantdont listen to him!)

Why do I need to address the opposing sides argument?

There is an old kung-fu saying which states, "The hand that strikes also blocks", meaning that when you
argue it is to your advantage to anticipate your opposition and strike down their arguments within the
body of your own paper. This sentiment is echoed in the popular saying, "The best defense is a good
By addressing the opposition you achieve the following goals:

illustrate a well-rounded understanding of the topic

demonstrate a lack of bias

enhance the level of trust that the reader has for both you and your opinion

give yourself the opportunity to refute any arguments the opposition may have

strengthen your argument by diminishing your opposition's argument

Think about yourself as a child, asking your parents for permission to do something that they would
normally say no to. You were far more likely to get them to say yes if you anticipated and addressed all of
their concerns before they expressed them. You did not want to belittle those concerns, or make them feel
dumb, because this only put them on the defensive, and lead to a conclusion that went against your
The same is true in your writing.
How do I accomplish this?
To address the other side of the argument you plan to make, you'll need to "put yourself in their shoes." In
other words, you need to try to understand where they're coming from. If you're having trouble
accomplishing this task, try following these steps:
1. Jot down several good reasons why you support that particular side of the argument.
2. Look at the reasons you provided and try to argue with yourself. Ask: Why would someone
disagree with each of these points? What would his/her response be? (Sometimes it's helpful to
imagine that you're having a verbal argument with someone who disagrees with you.)
3. Think carefully about your audience; try to understand their background, their strongest
influences, and the way that their minds work. Ask: What parts of this issue will concern my
opposing audience the most?
4. Find the necessary facts, evidence, quotes from experts, etc. to refute the points that your
opposition might make.
5. Carefully organize your paper so that it moves smoothly from defending your own points to
sections where you argue against the opposition.

Introductions, Body Paragraphs, and Conclusions for an Argument Paper

The following sections outline the generally accepted structure for an academic argument paper. Keep in
mind that these are guidelines and that your structure needs to be flexible enough to meet the
requirements of your purpose and audience.
You may also use the following Purdue OWL resources to help you with your argument paper:

Creating a Thesis Statement

Establishing Arguments

Organizing Your Argument

Organizing Your Argument Slide Presentation

Logic in Argumentative Writing

Paragraphs and Paragraphing

Transitions and Transitional Devices

The introduction is the broad beginning of the paper that answers three important questions:
1. What is this?
2. Why am I reading it?
3. What do you want me to do?
You should answer these questions by doing the following:
1. Set the context provide general information about the main idea, explaining the situation so the
reader can make sense of the topic and the claims you make and support
2. State why the main idea is important tell the reader why he or she should care and keep reading.
Your goal is to create a compelling, clear, and convincing essay people will want to read and act
3. State your thesis/claim compose a sentence or two stating the position you will support
with logos (sound reasoning: induction, deduction), pathos (balanced emotional appeal),
andethos (author credibility).
For exploratory essays, your primary research question would replace your thesis statement so that the
audience understands why you began your inquiry. An overview of the types of sources you explored might
follow your research question.
If your argument paper is long, you may want to forecast how you will support your thesis by outlining the
structure of your paper, the sources you will consider, and the opposition to your position. You can forecast
your paper in many different ways depending on the type of paper you are writing. Your forecast could
read something like this:

First, I will define key terms for my argument, and then I will provide some background of the situation.
Next I will outline the important positions of the argument and explain why I support one of these
positions. Lastly, I will consider opposing positions and discuss why these positions are outdated. I will
conclude with some ideas for taking action and possible directions for future research.
When writing a research paper, you may need to use a more formal, less personal tone. Your forecast
might read like this:
This paper begins by providing key terms for the argument before providing background of the situation.
Next, important positions are outlined and supported. To provide a more thorough explanation of these
important positions, opposing positions are discussed. The paper concludes with some ideas for taking
action and possible directions for future research.
Ask your instructor about what tone you should use when providing a forecast for your paper.
These are very general examples, but by adding some details on your specific topic, a forecast will
effectively outline the structure of your paper so your readers can more easily follow your ideas.
Thesis checklist
Your thesis is more than a general statement about your main idea. It needs to establish a clear position
you will support with balanced proofs (logos, pathos, ethos). Use the checklist below to help you create a
This section is adapted from Writing with a Thesis: A Rhetoric Reader by David Skwire and Sarah Skwire:
Make sure you avoid the following when creating your thesis:

A thesis is not a title: Homes and schools (title) vs. Parents ought to participate more in the
education of their children (good thesis).

A thesis is not an announcement of the subject: My subject is the incompetence of the Supreme
Court vs. The Supreme Court made a mistake when it ruled in favor of George W. Bush in the 2000

A thesis is not a statement of absolute fact: Jane Austen is the author of Pride and Prejudice.

A thesis is not the whole essay: A thesis is your main idea/claim/refutation/problem-solution

expressed in a single sentence or a combination of sentences.

Please note that according to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Seventh Edition, "A
thesis statement is a single sentence that formulates both your topic and your point of view"
(Gibaldi 42). However, if your paper is more complex and requires a thesis statement, your thesis
may require a combination of sentences.

Make sure you follow these guidelines when creating your thesis:

A good thesis is unified:


(floppy). vs.

NOT: Detective stories are not a high form of literature, but people have always been
fascinated by them, and many fine writers have experimented with them

BETTER: Detective stories appeal to the basic human desire for thrills (concise).

A good thesis is specific:


NOT: James Joyces Ulysses is very good. vs.

BETTER: James Joyces Ulysses helped create a new way for writers to deal with the

Try to be as specific as possible (without providing too much detail) when creating your thesis:

NOT: James Joyces Ulysses helped create a new way for writers to deal with the
unconscious. vs.

BETTER: James Joyces Ulysses helped create a new way for writers to deal with the
unconscious by utilizing the findings of Freudian psychology and introducing the techniques
of literary stream-of-consciousness.

Quick Checklist:
_____ The thesis/claim follows the guidelines outlined above
_____ The thesis/claim matches the requirements and goals of the assignment
_____ The thesis/claim is clear and easily recognizable
_____ The thesis/claim seems supportable by good reasoning/data, emotional appeal

This resource outlines the generally accepted structure for introductions, body paragraphs, and
conclusions in an academic argument paper. Keep in mind that this resource contains guidelines and not
strict rules about organization. Your structure needs to be flexible enough to meet the requirements of your
purpose and audience.

Body Paragraphs
Body paragraphs: Moving from general to specific information
Your paper should be organized in a manner that moves from general to specific information. Every time
you begin a new subject, think of an inverted pyramid - The broadest range of information sits at the top,
and as the paragraph or paper progresses, the author becomes more and more focused on the argument
ending with specific, detailed evidence supporting a claim. Lastly, the author explains how and why the
information she has just provided connects to and supports her thesis (a brief wrap up or warrant).

Image Caption: Moving from General to Specific Information

The four elements of a good paragraph (TTEB)
A good paragraph should contain at least the following four elements: Transition, Topic sentence,
specific Evidence and analysis, and a Brief wrap-up sentence (also known as a warrant) TTEB!
1. A Transition sentence leading in from a previous paragraph to assure smooth reading. This acts as
a hand off from one idea to the next.
2. A Topic sentence that tells the reader what you will be discussing in the paragraph.
3. Specific Evidence and analysis that supports one of your claims and that provides a deeper level of
detail than your topic sentence.
4. A Brief wrap-up sentence that tells the reader how and why this information supports the papers
thesis. The brief wrap-up is also known as the warrant. The warrant is important to your argument
because it connects your reasoning and support to your thesis, and it shows that the information in
the paragraph is related to your thesis and helps defend it.
Supporting evidence (induction and deduction)
Induction is the type of reasoning that moves from specific facts to a general conclusion. When you use
induction in your paper, you will state your thesis (which is actually the conclusion you have come to after
looking at all the facts) and then support your thesis with the facts. The following is an example of
induction taken from Dorothy U. Seylers Understanding Argument:
There is the dead body of Smith. Smith was shot in his bedroom between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 2:00
a.m., according to the coroner. Smith was shot with a .32 caliber pistol. The pistol left in the bedroom
contains Joness fingerprints. Jones was seen, by a neighbor, entering the Smith home at around 11:00

p.m. the night of Smiths death. A coworker heard Smith and Jones arguing in Smiths office the morning of
the day Smith died.
Conclusion: Jones killed Smith.
Here, then, is the example in bullet form:

Conclusion: Jones killed Smith

Support: Smith was shot by Jones gun, Jones was seen entering the scene of the crime, Jones and
Smith argued earlier in the day Smith died.

Assumption: The facts are representative, not isolated incidents, and thus reveal a trend, justifying
the conclusion drawn.

When you use deduction in an argument, you begin with general premises and move to a specific
conclusion. There is a precise pattern you must use when you reason deductively. This pattern is
called syllogistic reasoning (the syllogism). Syllogistic reasoning (deduction) is organized in three steps:
1. Major premise
2. Minor premise
3. Conclusion
In order for the syllogism (deduction) to work, you must accept that the relationship of the two premises
lead, logically, to the conclusion. Here are two examples of deduction or syllogistic reasoning:
1. Major premise: All men are mortal.
2. Minor premise: Socrates is a man.
3. Conclusion: Socrates is mortal.
1. Major premise: People who perform with courage and clear purpose in a crisis are great leaders.
2. Minor premise: Lincoln was a person who performed with courage and a clear purpose in a crisis.
3. Conclusion: Lincoln was a great leader.
So in order for deduction to work in the example involving Socrates, you must agree that (1) all men are
mortal (they all die); and (2) Socrates is a man. If you disagree with either of these premises, the
conclusion is invalid. The example using Socrates isnt so difficult to validate. But when you move into
more murky water (when you use terms such as courage, clear purpose, and great), the connections get
For example, some historians might argue that Lincoln didnt really shine until a few years into the Civil
War, after many Union losses to Southern leaders such as Robert E. Lee.

The following is a clear example of deduction gone awry:

1. Major premise: All dogs make good pets.
2. Minor premise: Doogle is a dog.
3. Conclusion: Doogle will make a good pet.
If you dont agree that all dogs make good pets, then the conclusion that Doogle will make a good pet is
When a premise in a syllogism is missing, the syllogism becomes an enthymeme. Enthymemes can be
very effective in argument, but they can also be unethical and lead to invalid conclusions. Authors often
use enthymemes to persuade audiences. The following is an example of an enthymeme:
If you have a plasma TV, you are not poor.
The first part of the enthymeme (If you have a plasma TV) is the stated premise. The second part of the
statement (you are not poor) is the conclusion. So the unstated premise is Only rich people have plasma
TVs. The enthymeme above leads us to an invalid conclusion (people who own plasma TVs are not poor)
because there are plenty of people who own plasma TVs who are poor. Lets look at this enthymeme in a
syllogistic structure:

Major premise: People who own plasma TVs are rich (unstated above).

Minor premise: You own a plasma TV.

Conclusion: You are not poor.

To help you understand how induction and deduction can work together to form a solid argument, you may
want to look at the United States Declaration of Independence. The first section of the Declaration contains
a series of syllogisms, while the middle section is an inductive list of examples. The final section brings the
first and second sections together in a compelling conclusion.

This resource outlines the generally accepted structure for introductions, body paragraphs, and
conclusions in an academic argument paper. Keep in mind that this resource contains guidelines and not
strict rules about organization. Your structure needs to be flexible enough to meet the requirements of your
purpose and audience.

Rebuttal Sections
In order to present a fair and convincing message, you may need to anticipate, research, and outline some
of the common positions (arguments) that dispute your thesis. If the situation (purpose) calls for you to do
this, you will present and then refute these other positions in the rebuttal section of your essay.
It is important to consider other positions because in most cases, your primary audience will be fencesitters. Fence-sitters are people who have not decided which side of the argument to support.

People who are on your side of the argument will not need a lot of information to align with your position.
People who are completely against your argumentperhaps for ethical or religious reasonswill probably
never align with your position no matter how much information you provide. Therefore, the audience you
should consider most important are those people who haven't decided which side of the argument they will
supportthe fence-sitters.
In many cases, these fence-sitters have not decided which side to align with because they see value in
both positions. Therefore, to not consider opposing positions to your own in a fair manner may alienate
fence-sitters when they see that you are not addressing their concerns or discussion opposing positions at
Organizing your rebuttal section
Following the TTEB method outlined in the Body Paragraph section, forecast all the information that will
follow in the rebuttal section and then move point by point through the other positions addressing each
one as you go. The outline below, adapted from Seyler's Understanding Argument, is an example of a
rebuttal section from a thesis essay.
When you rebut or refute an opposing position, use the following three-part organization:
The opponents argument: Usually, you should not assume that your reader has read or remembered
the argument you are refuting. Thus at the beginning of your paragraph, you need to state, accurately and
fairly, the main points of the argument you will refute.
Your position: Next, make clear the nature of your disagreement with the argument or position you are
refuting. Your position might assert, for example, that a writer has not proved his assertion because he has
provided evidence that is outdated, or that the argument is filled with fallacies.
Your refutation: The specifics of your counterargument will depend upon the nature of your
disagreement. If you challenge the writers evidence, then you must present the more recent evidence. If
you challenge assumptions, then you must explain why they do not hold up. If your position is that the
piece is filled with fallacies, then you must present and explain each fallacy.

This resource outlines the generally accepted structure for introductions, body paragraphs, and
conclusions in an academic argument paper. Keep in mind that this resource contains guidelines and not
strict rules about organization. Your structure needs to be flexible enough to meet the requirements of your
purpose and audience.

Conclusions wrap up what you have been discussing in your paper. After moving from general to specific
information in the introduction and body paragraphs, your conclusion should begin pulling back into more
general information that restates the main points of your argument. Conclusions may also call for action or
overview future possible research. The following outline may help you conclude your paper:
In a general way,

Restate your topic and why it is important,

Restate your thesis/claim,

Address opposing viewpoints and explain why readers should align with your position,

Call for action or overview future research possibilities.

Remember that once you accomplish these tasks, unless otherwise directed by your instructor, you are
finished. Done. Complete. Don't try to bring in new points or end with a whiz bang(!) conclusion or try to
solve world hunger in the final sentence of your conclusion. Simplicity is best for a clear, convincing
The preacher's maxim is one of the most effective formulas to follow for argument papers:
1. Tell what you're going to tell them (introduction).
2. Tell them (body).
3. Tell them what you told them (conclusion).
Genre and the Research Paper
Research: What it is.
A research paper is the culmination and final product of an involved process of research, critical thinking,
source evaluation, organization, and composition. It is, perhaps, helpful to think of the research paper as a
living thing, which grows and changes as the student explores, interprets, and evaluates sources related to
a specific topic. Primary and secondary sources are the heart of a research paper, and provide its
nourishment; without the support of and interaction with these sources, the research paper would morph
into a different genre of writing (e.g., an encyclopedic article). The research paper serves not only to
further the field in which it is written, but also to provide the student with an exceptional opportunity to
increase her knowledge in that field. It is also possible to identify a research paper by what it is not.
Research: What it is not.
A research paper is not simply an informed summary of a topic by means of primary and secondary
sources. It is neither a book report nor an opinion piece nor an expository essay consisting solely of one's
interpretation of a text nor an overview of a particular topic. Instead, it is a genre that requires one to
spend time investigating and evaluating sources with the intent to offer interpretations of the texts, and
not unconscious regurgitations of those sources. The goal of a research paper is not to inform the reader
what others have to say about a topic, but to draw on what others have to say about a topic and engage
the sources in order to thoughtfully offer a unique perspective on the issue at hand. This is accomplished
through two major types of research papers.
Two major types of research papers.
Argumentative research paper:
The argumentative research paper consists of an introduction in which the writer clearly introduces the
topic and informs his audience exactly which stance he intends to take; this stance is often identified as
the thesis statement. An important goal of the argumentative research paper is persuasion, which means
the topic chosen should be debatable or controversial. For example, it would be difficult for a student to
successfully argue in favor of the following stance.
Perhaps 25 years ago this topic would have been debatable; however, today, it is assumed that smoking
cigarettes is, indeed, harmful to one's health. A better thesis would be the following.
In this sentence, the writer is not challenging the current accepted stance that both firsthand and
secondhand cigarette smoke is dangerous; rather, she is positing that the social acceptance of the latter

over the former is indicative of a cultural double-standard of sorts. The student would support this thesis
throughout her paper by means of both primary and secondary sources, with the intent to persuade her
audience that her particular interpretation of the situation is viable.
Analytical research paper:
The analytical research paper often begins with the student asking a question (a.k.a. a research question)
on which he has taken no stance. Such a paper is often an exercise in exploration and evaluation. For
example, perhaps one is interested in the Old English poem Beowulf. He has read the poem intently and
desires to offer a fresh reading of the poem to the academic community. His question may be as follows.
His research may lead him to the following conclusion.
Though his topic may be debatable and controversial, it is not the student's intent to persuade the
audience that his ideas are right while those of others are wrong. Instead, his goal is to offer a critical
interpretation of primary and secondary sources throughout the paper--sources that should, ultimately,
buttress his particular analysis of the topic. The following is an example of what his thesis statement may
look like once he has completed his research.
This statement does not negate the traditional readings of Beowulf; instead, it offers a fresh and detailed
reading of the poem that will be supported by the student's research.
It is typically not until the student has begun the writing process that his thesis statement begins to take
solid form. In fact, the thesis statement in an analytical paper is often more fluid than the thesis in an
argumentative paper. Such is one of the benefits of approaching the topic without a predetermined stance.

Analytical vs. Argumentative Research Papers

When writing a research paper, you have the choice of two main approaches: analytical and
argumentative. Sometimes your research assignment may specify which approach you should use, but
sometimes the decision on how to approach your topic rests on your shoulders. The scope and purpose of
your paper determines which approach is more suited to your topic.
While there are distinct differences between writing an analytical research paper and writing an
argumentative research paper, there are some common principles as well:

Logical thinking is necessary.

Smart evaluation of information fuels what is included.

Comprehensive research of source material is conducted.

The major difference between the two research paper types is made in the process of writing, or
presenting the topic. Analytical papers create a balanced, neutral approach to presenting a snapshot of an
overall topic from which you draw conclusions, and argumentative papers create a debate between
differing sides with a logical argument that favors one side of an argument over another.
The analytical research paper
Forming a research question is the basis of an analytical research paper. The question is neutral and
provides direction for you to evaluate and explore the topic as it relates to answering the question. Your
thesis statement presents the research question, and the remainder of your paper supports your thesis.
This type of research paper is not a simple regurgitation of information. Instead, it is your thoughts,
conclusions and evaluations of a topic that is backed up with logical information. Several things are vital in
formulating an analytical research paper:

You answer the research questions objectively.

You have no preconceived notions or opinions about the topic.

You evaluate the topic and draw conclusions from factual information from reliable sources.

You piece findings together to present the purpose of the paper.

You use serious contemplation and a critical evaluation to answer the research question.

The argumentative research paper

Taking one side of an issue or topic is the central point of an argumentative research paper. Your stance is
built into the thesis statement, which makes the argument you feel is more logical for the given topic. The
biggest goal of this type of paper is to convince your readers to agree with your point of view by backing
up your position with a logical argument supported by facts and information from credible sources.
An argumentative research paper does not simply demand readers agree with you based solely on your
opinion. Instead, careful and structured research is used to demonstrate the viability of your argument by
providing information that allows readers to draw the same logical conclusion. There are several things
that are crucial in writing this type of paper:

You use logical persuasion to build your argument in order to convince readers.

You clearly state your argument or stance in the thesis statement.

You introduce the topic sufficiently before taking a stance.

You use credible sources to back up your position and include information about the opposing view.

You use critical evaluation to create a logical argument.

Regardless of which research paper type you are undertaking, the backbone of writing a great paper starts
with conducting thorough and structured research, using effective note-taking strategies and forming a
strong thesis statement. While the thesis statement you start with may evolve as you write your paper, an
analytical research paper has a more fluid thesis than an argumentative one; the thesis statement may
undergo more changes as you begin outlining, writing a rough draft or finalizing your paper.
As you work through the organization process of writing a research paper, stay aware of which approach
your topic requires to stay focused on the right aspects of the topic. If you are writing with an analytical
approach, use an objective and logical presentation of facts to answer your research question. If you are
writing with an argumentative approach, use logical thinking and an accurate representation of both sides
of an issue while persuading your audience to reach the same conclusions you do.