ENGLISH 343Week 6: Cross-cultural differences in writing, culturalrepresentation constructed by dominant discourses
Overview Your Voices: General discussion on this week’s readings Introduction to Contrastive Rhetoric (CR) Critiques of CR Short clip from “Writing Across Borders” Discussion Facilitation by Tara and VictoriaUnfinished Knowledge: The story of BarbaraSilvia, T. (1997). Differences in ESL and native English speaker writing: The research and itsimplicationsHinkel Chapters Midterm Study Guide Language and Culture Trajectory papers
The goal of today’s class is To understand the influence of cultures on our writing To understand and go beyond cultural relativism in writing classrooms. And, to understand cultural representation as constructed by discourse. To problemitize the binaries in writing and come to an understanding that cultural differences are constructed by discourses rather than existing a priori (notion of culture as a discursive construct) To understand what Contrastive Rhetoric is and how we can apply this knowledge to ESL/EFL teaching
Initial Discussion on CR Consider your criteria of “good writing”. In what ways do your criteria reflect norms of your native language and academic culture? In what ways may your own criteria differ from those of someone from a different country and language background? As a teacher, how could you begin to understand the writing styles and norms of other cultures? As English becomes more and more a language used all over he world among native and non-native speakers alike, discuss your opinions on the importance of teaching and expecting proficiency in the norm of the dominant mode? Who establishes these norms and for whom are they most relevant? How important is it to uphold those norms in the academic setting?
Contrastive Rhetoric/Intercultural Rhetoric Interdiciplinary domain of second language studies and applied linguistics that deals with examining differences and similarities in writing across cultures. The assumption is: any language includes written texts that are constructed using identifiable rhetorical features Raises teachers’ awareness on cultural differences in writing. Helps L2 students to explore cultural differences in L2 writingContrastive Rhetoric/Intercultural Rhetoric: What is the impact ofculture on writing? How do students negotiate the composingconventions in their own L1 literacy practice and the writingconvention of the target language?(Atkinson, Enkvist, Hinds, Connor, Kubota, Kaplan, Matsuda, Nelson)
Robert Kaplan’s Contrastive Rhetoric argument Contrastive Rhetoric: Cultural thought patterns in intercultural education” (Kaplan, 1966; the doodle article) 6
Robert Kaplan’s Contrastive Rhetoric argument: CulturalThough Patterns in Intercultural Education (also referred as “doodles article” First study/a pioneer work by a U.S. applied linguist to explain the written style of ESL writers (as opposed to patterns of speech!) Explored the links between the culturally specific logic/thought patterns and paragraph structures in English essays written by NNES students. Came up with five lingua-cultural groups in rhetorical structures of a piece of writing in students’ cultures- He claims that Anglo-European expository essays follow a linear development; Oriental languages prefer an indirect approach and come to the point at the end; p. 223 “The patterns of paragraphs in other languages are not so well established, or perhaps only not so well known to speakers of English. The patterns need to be discovered and compared with patterns of English in order to arrive a practical means for the teaching of such structures to nonnative users of the language” 7
Early Criticism to Kaplan’s doodle article: Flows in his arguments The generalizations about student’s culture based on the rhetorical and cultural through patterns has been contested by many scholars.Fault # 1: Essays were collected as class exercise, students did not havecomparable language skills (they were all developmental writers)Fault # 2: He was making assertions about one’s L1 writing rhetoric andthought patterns based on a general L2 essay structure. Other factors such astopic knowledge, language proficiency, educational background also influencesstudents paragraph development, but he did not account for these in hic 1966article.Fault # 3: Rhetorical deviations he found in NNES students were similar to therhetorical errors made by NS studentsFault # 4: Considering standard English speaking NSs as the norm-overlooks the plurality within language groups. Native English speakers do notall write in linear, straight line paragraph development. Members of differentdiscourse communities write in different genres.
Faults in Kaplan’s argument (cont.)Ethnocentric view of culture: The worldview of a group of people using the same language is determined by that single language and culture? (strong version of Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis)
STILL… He drew teachers and scholars attention to linguistic differences in ESL students’ writers “Writing is culturally influenced” The study of writing is seen as a cultural-educational activity.
So, how should we approach such cultural representations? It is important to understand the meaning of such cultural labels (where do they come from, what do they do to people?) and do not fall into the trap of generalizations/stereotypes. Such representations need to be viewed as particular knowledge rather than objective truth. These also need to be reevaluated from the point of view of a discourse in which power relations construct and legitimate such beliefs.
We need to adopt a Critical literacy approach (not an assimilationist one) Both affirms and critically interrogate what is perceived as the authentic student voice Legitimizing the vernaculars of minority does not exclude their need to acquire the dominant codes. The cultural and linguistic codes of the dominant group needs to be demystified so that the subordinate students “can use the dominant knowledge effectively in their struggle to change the material and historical conditions that enslaved them” (Freire, 1993, p. 135) Lisa Delpit also argues for the need to both maintain cultural heritage and develop skills necessary for success in mainstream society.
Approaches to apply CR in the classroom Teachers should encourage their students to analyze the purpose of their writing and analyze their audience carefully: This kind of investigation involve breaking down students’ stereotypes of their L1 and L2 and helping them come to a more complex understanding of how their L1 rhetoric creates meaning (p. 46) Teachers can ask students to compare L1 and L2 texts with regard to paragraph and discourse-level organization (preferably with intermediate and advanced level students). The comparison of comparable L1 and L2 texts can be taken to full text levels (analyzing letters, research articles, books). Teachers can involve students in examining audience and reader expectation in different cultures (and in different genres). What is good writing in a Chinese academic research context/opinion article/argumentative writing vs U.S.?
ESL Assignments/Notes based on CR/IRAs a way to focus on rhetorical strategies, ESL instructorsin Indiana University tried the following assignments:Chose two magazine advertisements that sell the samekind of product but appeal to audiences in differentcultures and have similar socio-economic classes (luxurycar ad in Germany and a secondary luxury car as aimedat people in the U.S. Analyze the differences andsimilarities.(You may try this ad analysis assignments targetingdifferent audience “in the same culture” man vs women)
Writing Across Borders: Intercultural Rhetoric The role of culture in writing Culturally sensitive ways of assessing students’ writing Struggles that international students face while writing in American colleges. The teaching and assessing practices that disadvantage international students 15
Introducing the documentary Made over a three period at Oregon State University Features interviews with international students, second language scholars addressing various writing issues in the college context. Strategies used by faculty to work with cultural writing differenceshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quI0vq9VF-c 16
Barbara’s story The main points1) Teachers usually have good intention while reflecting cultural differences instead of denying them.2) However, this liberal view of cultural difference tends to fall inyo cultural relativism essentializing cultures and creating a dichotomy between “us” and “them”3) The liberal view of cultural difference also FAILS to examine how cultural differences are constructed by discourses and how power is exercised in perpetuating such differences.4) In order to understand the cultural differences critically issues of power and discourse need to be examined (p. 12)
SummaryNARRATIVE, DRAMATIZE, WRITE DOWN, DRAW A STORY BOARD ETC: Who is Barbara? What were some of her initial thoughts on her ESL students? What are some of the dilemmas she experiences? Who is Carol? What are her views on culture? What are some of her suggestions to Barbara? Who is David? How does he conceptualize the notion of culture? What are some of his suggestions to Barbara? What did Barbara realize after her conversations with David? What changes did she apply to her ESL teaching?“Barbara would emphasize that the students need not abandon their ownculture—they simply need to acquire new cultural conventions in order tosucceed in the academic community” (p.14)—What pedagogical model in Kubota1999 does this fit in?
Questions to keep in mind while watching How does culture play out in writing, and how are our expectations shaped by cultural preferences? How do we assess international student writing when we have to grade it alongside the writing of native speakers, and how can we think about surface error in a fair and constructive manner? What kinds of teaching and testing practices disadvantage international students and which help them improve as writers?
Three approaches in reading and responding to ESL writing 1. Assimilationist The goal is to help L2 writers write linear, topic-driven, idiomatic and error- free papers 2. Accommodationist The goal is to teach academic discourse without letting the student lose their L1 linguistic and cultural identities. It’s up to the reader “how much like a native speaker” she wants to sound. 3. Separatist/Multicultural writing The goal is to preserve support the student in maintaining her linguistic identity separate. You help the student preserve the difference. Looking at writing as an “act of communication”Source: Matsuda, P. & Cox, M. (2004). Reading an ESL writers’ text. In S.Bruce &B.Rafoth. ESL Writers: A guide for writing center tutors.
Responding to a student writing Imagine that an ESL students submits this essay. Read and respond to one ESL essay in your groups. How would you respond to this essay? Provide both marginal and end comments to this student.
Good responding strategies Respond student writing as a work in progress rather than judging it as a finished product. Respond to patterns of errors rather than individual errors. Focus on errors that impede meaning rather than errors in idiom. Ask questions to clarify meaning. Less is more. Ensure your comments reflect your priorities. Engage in dialogs about students’ writing process instead of the writing product only. Inform L2 writers about the academic writing conventions and genres in English. Encourage them to visit the writing center. 22
Marginal and End Comments Marginal comments These comments are best suited for giving feedback on specific sections of the text. End comments These comments are usually more lengthy and are saved for more global concerns affecting the whole essay. Here is where you point out the patterns you noticed in the student’s paper. Find a manageable set of issues for the student to work on for the next draft or paper 23
Successful classroom pedagogies while responding to ESL writing Ask students’ believes and expectations on good writing. L2 students becoming “ethnographers” of their own writing. Research students’ writing experiences both in L1 and L2. Awareness building activities of audience, expectations of rhetorical features: Educate students about different genres, expectations of readers and the social purposes of writing. Raise students’ awareness on readers’ expectations. Refrain from perpetuating stereotypes when talking about student writing. Teachers need to be cautious in essentializing languages and cultures (“reinforcing the cultural uniqueness” Kubota, 1998) 24