ENG 101 with Professor Ivan Wolfe

Ah, english class. ASU requires you to take it unless your SAT score is at a certain level. But as an international student, I needed to take it either way. The TOEFL that I took was only used to convince the US Immigration that I had the knowledge and skills to survive the American classrooms.

At ASU, there are two levels of English to be taken at the Freshman level. ENG 101 and ENG 102 is designated for American students while ENG 107 and ENG 108 in the other hand is for international students. One thing to note about these courses is that they are essentially the same in terms of content, it’s just that the latter is suited more towards international students.

Initially, I did deliberate whether to take 101 or 107 but in the end, I chose to take 101 mainly because of the timing. Also, I wanted a little challenge. Do note that it is possible to mix and match with the two pairs. For example, you can start with 101 and continue with 108 and vice versa.

So, after a semester of American English, here are my thoughts about it.

At a glance


The week before the semester started, I was thinking about what will the course be about, because I didn’t know there was a course description online at that time. But essentially, the course revolves around writing essays and the focus is put on forming the content of an essay. Grammar and vocabulary is not being taught in the class but a proficient knowledge of it is required to get a good grade in the course. That point is valid for ENG 101 but might be different for ENG 107.

Throughout the semester, Professor Wolfe lined up three essays for us to do. Each coming one after the other. I was able to choose whatever topic that I wanted to talk about as long as I was able to find sources for it. And that is the first and probably most important thing that I got out of this class. Looking for sources sounds simple enough but it requires some level of precision. So that your essay doesn’t end up veering off topic.

It’s Easier said than done. In my experience, the toughest part of the course is binding the sources that I found on the internet with my idea especially with the third (and also last) essay where I needed to combine what I think about the topic and what the internet thinks about the issue.

Another problem that I faced while crafting my essays is the case of identity crisis. Since we were given the freedom to choose whatever topic to write about, it was hard to stay on topic. Often times, I ended up writing about effects of the issue halfway through the essay when the title that I have settled on is that reasons why that issue happens. But, I see these problems as a good thing because it did help me to improve my writing.

For each essay, Professor Wolfe laid out the process of submitting drafts which helped to spot the issues like my essay’s identity crisis. There are two draft submissions before the third and final draft is submitted. The first draft is more of a peer review kind of thing where other classmates help one another to spot the mistakes and the second draft is sifted through by Professor Wolfe himself.

It is not much of a thorough inspection but it did give me some insight as to what is fundamentally wrong with my essay. Specifically for the the last two essays is a dedicated conference week where the class for that whole week is cancelled so that we can meet up with Professor Wolfe in person to discuss about what issues that he found in my essay.

The three essays basically account for the bulk of the grade thus most of the class time is spent on understanding what the essay wants. Also, Professor Wolfe does like to play videos in the class. The videos in particular serves as a way to show how arguments are supposed to be made and also gives us some perspective as to how we should approach the topic. Most of the videos are actually TED talks which are surprisingly interesting and well related to the actual essay that we are writing.

But there was on stand out video that Professor Wolfe showed in class. I don’t even remember what the video had in relation to the essay but all I can remember is that everyone ended up laughing non stop even after the video ended.

For this class there is a required book called “They Say I say” and by the end of the semester, you will finish reading the entire book. That is because Professor Wolfe will hold random quizzes about the readings that will account for the final grade. So, make sure you read the book. The book is actually not bad, there are some interesting points that the author lists about writing an essay. Think of the book as a reference guide to help you structure your sentences and essays.

7:30 classes are not so bad

One thing I didn’t quite talk about is that the class I was in started at 7:30 am three times a week. The first couple of weeks was a little bit hard as I had to wake up at like 5am in preparation for the class (mostly to complete the readings for that day). But as the semester progressed, I am thankful that I chose this time slot because I was already waking up at 5am even if I didn’t have class that early to buy some time for my other courses.

Another thing that you should know about all courses in the English department (not just Professor Wolfe’s class) is that there is a policy that states that you cannot be absent more than 6 times in the entire semester. Once you reach that threshold, you will automatically fail the course. Even if you have a documented excuse, those 6 absences will still apply regardless. So, don’t sign up for a 7:30 class if you can’t make it.


Overall, I did learn more than what I was expecting to learn. I can honestly tell you that I was downright skeptical about learning the different essay styles but I did pull through and accepted that there is more to an essay than just the actual content. It might come useful in the future?

For the most part, Professor Wolfe was pretty chill and I would describe his teaching style to be calm, real calm. Being a 7:30 class that happens three times a week, people tend to miss class and the class can be quite empty some times. I know that because I attended every single class. The downside of not having enough people is that group activities end up being not as effective as it could have been.

Wouldn’t say that Professor Wolfe’s grading style is strict but there are some things that he highlights more than the other. For example, he does dock off points for over-using the “be” verb. But here are some of the key takeaways to taking ENG 101 with Professor Wolfe:

  1. You will need to buy the book
  2. No physicial submissions, only digital submission for essays.
  3. Unannounced quizzes (with subtle hints sometimes), so read up!
  4. Not much class-wide activities
  5. Lots of videos being played throughout the semester

Insider talk

My course reviews for Spring 2016

  • FSE 100 with Professor Yinong Chen — An introductory engineering course that revolves around projects. Read this review
  • ENG 101 with Professor Ivan Wolfe — The first of two fresman level english courses that is required by ASU. Read this review
  • PHI 101 with Professor Douglas Portmore —  This is my first time learning about philosophy, it’s quite an interesting course I would say. Read this review
  • HST 109 with Professor Jonathan Barth — American history from the start till the end of the civil war. Read this review
  • CSE 120 with Professor Martin Reisslein — The basics of digital logic with both theoretical and practical work. Read this review
  • IEE 380 with Professor Linda Chattin — More statistical formulas and concepts than you can imagine. Read this review

I would  value your feedback on things that I may have missed in my review(s) and I would gladly update the review to include that information provided that your request is not too much in the future that I forget about the deep details about my experience in that course. Just hit me a comment below and I’ll gladly answer your question.



Drop some words

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s