Course Handbook

EAP101 ~ Fall 2018 ~ Duke Kunshan University


#1: The most important rule: if you have a problem, or if you're not sure about something, ask!

Please, please, please -- if you're confused about something, or if there's any kind of problem, ask me directly! I like getting questions from students because if one student is confused about something, others might have the same question. 

What I don't like is learning about a problem at the very last minute, when it's already too late to do anything about it. So if you're confused or unsure, ask early, and ask often!

Assignments and homework

I will post a summary of every day's lesson and the homework assignment under Class Notes and Homework Assignments. It is your responsibility to check this regularly to make sure you know what work you have to do.

Writing assignments

There are three types of writing assignments: "Letters to Austin," "Short Essays," and Term Papers.


"Letters to Austin" are short writing assignments in which I ask you to reflect on something related to the topics we explore in class. They are ungraded -- as long as you do the assignment and take it seriously, you'll get full credit. With these assignments I will not give you detailed feedback; instead, I will read them and respond to you collectively with an "open letter" to the class. 

However, I ask that you take these assignments seriously -- I am very interested in what you have to say! This is an opportunity for you to keep practicing your English writing without worrying about doing it "right," and to use English as a tool for genuine communication.

How to submit: Please submit your "Letters to Austin" in electronic form only by copy-pasting the text into the Mail Slot.


"Short Essays" are short formal essays with more explicit guidelines and instructions. These are graded, and you'll receive detailed feedback from me on how to improve your English and your writing.

How to submit: For these assignments I ask that you print them out and give them to me in class. Format your document according to my Formatting Guidelines for Written Work.

Print your essay before class, please. Do not run out in the middle of class or after class to print, or your essay will be marked late.


These are longer, formal essays that you'll submit to me toward the end of each 7-week Session. They will count for a major part of your grade. For these, please also print them out and format your document according to my Formatting Guidelines.

Reading assignments

Readings are all posted in the Library and linked to on the bottom of our course website. Usually I won't print out readings for you; printing is your responsibility. I expect you to have course readings ready and easy to refer to during class discussions -- including those we've talked about in previous sessions, as we may refer back to them.

(Note: This includes They Say, I SayAlways bring this textbook to class with you.)

Announcements and reminders

If I have important last-minute announcements or reminders to make, I will send those out over WeChat, so make sure to regularly check our WeChat group as well. 

Contacting me

Different teachers have different expectations when it comes to correspondence with students. For me, corresponding over WeChat is fine. I'll respond to your message as soon as I am able, though I may not respond as quickly if you message me in the evening or during the weekend. If you don't hear from me in 24 hours, message me again saying, "Just checking, did you get my message?"

Meeting with me outside of class

Office hours and appointments

See Office Hours

Later on in the semester I will begin requiring all students to meet with me one-on-one. (These are called "individual conferences.") Often these meetings will take place during office hours.

Talking with me after class

Because I often have several courses one after another, I try to avoid having long conversations with students immediately after class. (I want to avoid exhausting my lungs!) If it's a short clarifying question about homework, it's fine, but for longer conversations about coursework, please talk to me during office hours or make an appointment.

Eating lunch with me

If you'd like to talk with me casually (just for fun, not necessarily about coursework) I plan to eat lunch in the cafeteria every Thursday expressly with the purpose of chatting with students. Since we all share two languages, Mandarin Chinese and English, I like to alternate which language we speak. The first week I'll speak English, the next Chinese, the next English, and so forth.

If you see me in the cafeteria at other times and there's a free seat at my table, feel free to join me. 

Attendance and punctuality

Please come to class, and come on time. I do take attendance, and repeated unexcused absences or lateness may lower your participation grade. 

About missing class

If you need to miss class for any reason, please notify me in advance (WeChat is fine) and tell me about it yourself. If I hear from you after the fact, or if you delegate one of your classmates to deliver the message to me, I will still consider you absent without an excuse -- unless it truly was an emergency and you were incapable of notifying me in advance.

About switching sections

Sometimes students come to me asking to attend another section of my class because of time conflicts or other obligations. If I let students switch sections all the time, the result would be chaos. Here are the situations in which I will let you switch sections:

  1. You have some official obligation for DKU or some other important commitment related to your education
  2. You need to travel
  3. You have a medical excuse

If any of these things are true, I will let you attend another section as long as you let me know 24 hours in advance of your scheduled class time. Last-minute requests to switch sections will not be granted for any reason.


Your final grade will be based on the following components:

  • Participation (10%)
  • Short writing assignments (short essays and "Letters to Austin") (30%)
  • Course papers (i.e. term papers) (40%)
  • Presentations (20%)

I will strive to make the grading process as transparent as possible. On major projects like presentations and term papers I will write out detailed instructions in advance explaining how you will be graded.

Grading on Short essays

For an explanation of the grading scheme I use on your writing assignments, see Grading Criteria for Writing Assignments.

Note: The participation grade

It's everybody's responsibility to participate in class discussions in order to create a lively and stimulating intellectual atmosphere. I will not grade you on how much you participate, though. Instead, the participation component of your grade is based on the following:

  • Attendance and punctuality
  • Punctual completion of assignments
  • Following directions
  • Completing ungraded assignments (like Letters to Austin) in good faith (i.e. taking them seriously)

If you come to class, come on time, submit your assignments on time, and follow my directions conscientiously, you will get full credit for participation. 

If you miss class without an excuse, come to class late, hand in an assignment late, or otherwise don't follow directions in a way that interferes with the smooth running of class, I will note it on my grade sheet. Repeated violations will lower your participation grade.

Late assignments

Sometimes we don't finish things on time; that's just life! If you need to hand in an assignment late, please leave it in the blue box in front of my office.

If you hand in one assignment late, it probably won't affect your participation grade. If you repeatedly hand in assignments late, it will likely lower your participation grade.


If you know in advance that you will have trouble meeting a deadline, you may ask for an extension. Legitimate reasons for asking for an extension include things like: important school obligations, job interviews, serious medical issues, and family emergencies.

If you need more time to finish an assignment for one of these reasons, you must notify me in advance. Last-minute requests for extensions will not be granted for any reason (except for a genuine emergency).

Feedback from me on your assignments

I will do my best to give you prompt feedback on your assignments. For more details about the marks I use on your papers, see Austin's Editing Marks.

If you're unsure about what my feedback means -- or if you have trouble reading my handwriting -- please ask me about it! 

Plagiarism and academic integrity

One of the most important goals of this class is for you to learn what constitutes plagiarism in a Western academic context, and how to avoid it. If, after you've been given ample chances to understand the principles of academic integrity, you blatantly plagiarize your assignment, you will fail the assignment.

Cell phones and computers in the classroom

Many teachers ban cell phones and computers completely. I have a different philosophy. Though cell phones and computers can be a distraction, they are often, for many of us (including me), an important tool -- particularly for language learning. You may sometimes need to check a word in a dictionary, or look up a fact online to contribute to classroom discussion. In addition, some of us prefer to keep notes on our computers rather than on paper.

Laptops and tablets: If you want to use your laptop or tablet in class to take notes, that's fine as long as it does not distract you or your classmates. 

Cell phones: Please keep your cell phones on silent. If you want or need to use your cell phone during class to look up a word, or a piece of information if appropriate, please be discreet. Use it quickly and unobtrusively, and return your attention to discussion as soon as possible. 

If I notice that a person seems to be being distracted for a long time by a cell phone or a computer, I may ask you to put it away.

Language inside and outside of class

DKU is a bilingual community, which means that we are constantly making choices about which language to speak. 

In class, we will mostly speak English, as per DKU policy. (However, it's perfectly fine to say, "how do I say [X CHINESE WORD]?" and I or your classmates can help you out. Occasionally there may be moments when speaking Chinese is more efficient for a particular goal.)

Outside of class, in general, I'll respond to you in whichever language you speak to me in. I'm happy to talk in English or Chinese, or a mixture of the two, whichever you prefer. However, I understand that many of you have come to DKU with the goal of becoming fluent in spoken English, so when I'm not sure which language you prefer at a particular moment, I'll use English by default.


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