Fundamentals of English Writing

Fundamentals of English Writing

Grammar, Sentences, Paragraphs: Fundamentals are Critical

Do you often feel disoriented towards writing? Do you have a lot to say, but when you try to put those ideas into words, all you can do is stare blankly at the flashing cursor on the screen? Is there so much that you want to tell your readers—so much that you have trouble deciding what to say and how to say it? Worsening this plight is the sheer fear that grammar your archenemy strikes in you. You vaguely remember learning articles but still have no clue as to why they should appear in front of nouns. You also remember relative clauses, but what they can do evades you. You often feel confused about the changes in the tenses and aspects of verbs. You certainly have difficulties understanding why a sentence has a voice, be it active or passive. Writing worries you and worry turns into fear. So you jump to a conclusion about writing: Writing is so hard.

Writing is not easy, but learning to write is similar to learning to ride a bike. Just as you start to remember how to ride soon after you start trying even though you have not ridden in a long time, many writing skills and strategies are learnable and with proper training, they soon come to your rescue. Let us first talk about grammar your archenemy. Has it ever occurred to you that grammar has functions? In Fundamentals of English writing, you learn the functionality of grammar, instead of its form. For example, the form of a passive voice sentence is a be verb plus a past participle, but in this course, you will understand why an action-doer in an active voice sentence is purposefully ignored under certain circumstances and this sentence is then turned into a passive voice sentence. This course will show you that grammar is not just a cumbersome list of rules or a mere exercise of analyzing parts of speech or sentence structures. Rather, grammar is indeed all about a writer’s options; grammatical functions are writing strategies. You will benefit a lot from this understanding of grammatical functionality when you take advanced writing courses, because you know how to take advantage of it to help you communicate ideas.

In addition to the functions of grammar, you can also in this course improve your sentential relationships, paragraph structures, and idea development in preparation of more advanced writing courses. At the sentential level, you will learn how to connect sentences with appropriate transition signals to guide your readers through different sentential relationships. At the paragraph level, you will learn the basic structures and elements and understand the characteristics of paragraph writing. Paragraph writing paves the way for your writing longer and deeper academic articles, where you choose corresponding organizations according to your topics. As for idea development, you will learn how to develop your arguments with proper supporting details so as to facilitate reader understanding.

More importantly, you will in this course learn and collaborate with your peers. You will meet students who are eager to improve their writing, just like you. You will brainstorm with your classmates and participate in various activities meaningfully designed to strengthen your writing in many different levels. You will have experienced and professional teachers who guide you from fundamentals to advanced applications. They will also carefully review your writing and help you identify your weaknesses in order to help you improve them.

Upon completion of Fundamentals of English Writing, you will have a new understanding of grammatical functionality as a tool to communicate ideas. You will also improve your sentential structures and relationships, paragraph organizations, and idea development so that you will be able to self-evaluate your writing. Most importantly, you will lay a solid foundation for advanced academic English writing.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, students will

  1. understand common rhetoric modes in English writing.
  2. apply their knowledge of English grammar for academic writing purposes.
  3. demonstrate familiarities with vocabulary frequently used in academic discourse.
  4. identify and edit their own sentence problems.

Course Content

  1. Preliminaries to Writing

    1. Reading
    2. Vocabulary building
    3. Sentence structure
    4. Functional approach to grammar
    5. Unity and Coherence
    6. Organization
  2. Patterns of Paragraph/Essay Writing

    1. Process
    2. Cause and Effect
    3. Comparison and Contrast
    4. Classification
    5. Argumentation

Course Requirements:

  1. Students are required to attend all classes. No more than three excused absences are permitted.
  2. Active participation in class discussions is required.
  3. Quizzes and a comprehensive final exam are included in this course. No make-up quizzes/exam will be allowed.
  4. Writing assignments are carefully scheduled as stages toward the fulfillment of the course’s objectives. Late assignments will not be accepted.

Core Competencies (CCs)

  1. Professional knowledge and skills
  2. Independent judgment and critical thinking
  3. Teamwork
  4. Interpersonal Communication skills

Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs)

CILO1 Understanding common rhetoric modes in academic writing. 1, 2
CILO2 Applying knowledge of grammar function to academic writing. 1, 2
CILO3 Demonstrating familiarity with vocabulary frequently used in academic writing. 1, 2
CILO4 Editing and proofreading the writing of one’s own and one’s peers. 1, 2, 3, 4

Assessment Methods

Types of Assessment Weighting CILO CC
Homework and Assignments 50% 1, 2, 3, 4 1, 2, 3, 4
Final Exam 20% 2, 3 1, 2
Weekly Tests 15% 1, 2, 3 1, 2
Participation 10% 1, 2, 3, 4 1, 2, 3, 4
Attendance 5% N/A N/A


  1. Oshima, A., & Hogue, A. (2014). Longman Academic Writing Series 4 (5th ed.). New York: Pearson Education.
  2. 活用學術字彙:跨出論文寫作的第一步。台北:國立臺灣大學出版中心,2010。
  3. 文法會說話。台北:國立臺灣大學出版中心,2015。