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ENGLISH 343
Week 6: Cross-cultural differences in writing, cultural
representation constructed by dominant discourses
Agenda
 Your Voices: General discussion on three articles
 Kubota’s work
1) Japanese culture constructed by discourse
2) Unfinished Knowledge: The story of Barbara
 Connor’s article on CR
 Documentary: Writing Across Borders
 Discussion and group work on responding to an L2 writing
REMINDER: Please double check if your individual blog is visible on
the class blog.
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 come to an understanding that cultural differences are constructed by
    discourses rather than existing a priori (notion of culture as a discursive
    construct)

   To problemitize binaries in Japanese culture (as an example)

   To discuss various approaches to ESL teaching (specifically on writing):
    Acculturation model, pluralistic and critical literacy.

   To understand what CR is and how we can apply this knowledge to
    ESL/EFL teaching

See the video by Edward Said:
Orientalism_Interview with
        Edward Said

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwCOSkXR_Cw
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?
Alexis says
 According to Kubota, “ESL teachers need to ensure that
  their students have opportunities to develop skills that allow
  them to participate fully in the dominant society” (p. 30).
  Also, teacher and learners need to develop a critical
  awareness of the social-cultural consequences of
  using the dominant language and to find ways to
  incorporate the dominant language to create different
  meanings. I agree with this statement. Teachers need to
  help ESL students develop those skills in order to be
  successful in society but make sure that they preserve their
  culture differences. My question is how do teachers find
  this balance of teaching English writing to speakers of
  another language and help them uphold their voice in their
  own culture? Also, how do teachers of ESL students not
  stereotype a cultures writing when teaching a student
  about writing in English? How do you learn about a
  student’s writing culture without being stereotypical?
Joe says…
 I am in complete disagreement with Atkinson’s belief that “critical
  thinking is a social practice unique to western cultural traditions
  (11). Dangerous assumptions like this are what often limit
  ESL students and coerces them into negative self-fulfilling
  prophecies. As we have discussed in this class many times,
  each distinct culture is also completely filled with individual
  differences and variety. It is simply wrong to say that an entire
  culture is incapable of critical thinking. However, I enjoyed
  reading Kubota’s narrative about Barbara. Barbara’s story
  should inspire those teachers that feel they are not “diverse” or
  have never had an opportunity to travel outside their own culture.
  Without ever leaving the country or learning another language,
  Barbara transformed from a culturally unaware teacher to a
  complete advocate of multicultural education. With the help of
  her colleague Carol and her love interest David, Barbara
  changed how she ran her classroom. For example, she phrased
  questions and comparisons to avoid making American culture
  seem more sophisticated or superior to other cultures. Even
  something as simple as a teacher’s word choice can change the
  comfort level of the students in the classroom.
Emily says…
 According to Kubota’s 1999 article, people define cultures with
  labels, whether or not they know them to be true. However,
  because the labels are distinctive, the labels are perceived
  as correct. This knowledge is not true, scientific, or neutral.
  It just allows groups to have power over each other. When
  people continue to use the labels, it enforces the different
  levels of stereotypes and power. For example, many people
  say “no homo” as if there is something wrong with being
  homosexual. The more that people use this phrase, the more it is
  reinforced as a norm and as an accepted stereotype. Kubota
  states, "It is in discourse that power and knowledge are joined
  together," which means that through discourse, power is spread.
  Labels create difference instead of aiding the togetherness of
  cultures. Concepts of certain groups are constructed by others; it
  does not define the group because the labels are not self-
  reflective.
Alice says…
 Cultural understanding cannot exist outside of
  discourse, yet we can critically examine this
  discourse in order to understand power
  relationships among cultures. With an awareness
  of discourse, we can start to combat colonial
  mindsets, such as Otherness. (I also found it
  interesting to learn that cultural groups can also use
  discourse to their own advantage, as illustrated by
  Japanese theories of nohonjinron and nihon
  bunkaron. I was aware that colonizers used discourse
  to maintain power, but I was surprised to see that
  discourse was also used in response to Western
  dominance.)
Alice continues…
   I agree with Kubota that English teachers need to be careful about
    connecting their students’ actions with social and ideological values
    of a certain culture. Kubota maintains that “power…is not
    unidirectional, nor is discourse monolithic” (“Japanese Culture
    Constructed by Discourses” 22). In other words, discourse is
    multi-facted. As English teachers, we should feel challenged to
    help our students develop awareness and think critically about
    the functions and purposes of cultural discourse. We should
    respect our students’ linguistic backgrounds in order to help
    create equality. We should give students an opportunity to
    critically analyze their own languages, as well as English. I
    believe that if we help them, they can develop an understanding of
    the discourse of power in order to negotiate and create their own
    individual identities in the midst of (and perhaps in spite of) cultural
    determinism and Orientalism. I think this is where the idea of
    contrastive rhetoric can come into play. If we, as teachers, can
    understand some of the differences in writing across cultures, then
    we can help our students write to an English-speaking audience with
    specific expectations while still respecting various writing styles.
Tomas says…
 I guess before that and since then I haven't much considered or
  entertained the idea that individuals from other cultures will
  approach communication differently. I feel like contrastive rhetoric is
  an off-shoot of discourse analytics, but in a different form. I suppose
  we're all kind of familiar with the notion that people approach
  communication in different ways, and that misunderstandings
  typically arise from a lack of understanding between interlocutors.
  So I see how it is important for us as future educators of
  English as a second language to be cognizant about these
  issues that will inevitably arise with teaching the rhetorical
  stylings of English. It is a delicate balance between helping
  students maintain their identity and voice while also
  successfully using the rhetorical strategies and devices of their
  L2.
1. Is anyone else becoming really, really hyper-critical of the
conversations they have with others? 2. Why isn't there more of an
emphasis placed on educating people about this stuff earlier in life? It
seems like this knowledge would be valuable to more than just future
ESL teachers.
Kubota, R. (1999)
Japanese culture
  constructed.
Kubota (1999)
 What are the goals of Kubota’s 1999 article?



 What does she do in this article to convey her
  arguments? What are some of the rhetorical strategies
  she uses to convince the readers?
Her arguments
 She problematizes taken-for-granted cultural labels found
  in the applied linguistic literature by taking Japanese
  culture as an example. She critiques essentialized
  representation of Japanese culture found in various articles
  and moves us beyond the binary definitions.
e.g. Asian culture values collectivism and discourages
creativity and critical-thinking.
 She finds out how these arguments are a reflection of the
  constructed Other in colonial discourse.
 She defines cultural difference as involving complex issues
  that require critical scrutiny.
 She claims that Japanese identity and national character
  was defined by “nihonjinron”
Kubota argues…(p.15)
 The argument here is not that cultural differences and
  human agency do not exist. The way people think, speak,
  write, and behave is certainly influenced by culture in which
  they are brought up, and certain cultural differences indeed
  exist. Nor do I reject the notion that people as human
  agents have individual lived experiences and voices that
  may not be shared by other members of the same culture.
  Although cultural similarities, diversities and individual
  factors as well as cultural differences are worth exploring,
  instead I attempt a critique from a different perspective,
  namely, a critique of cultural representation from the
  concept of discourse and power/knowledge
Group work
 In your groups, identify the essentialist and determinist
  cultural assumptions that exist about Japanese
  culture.
Theories on the
              Japanese
 Nihonjinron (gained popularity in 60s and 70s)—the notion
  of cultural uniqueness
The characteristics of Japanese identity (like many other
nationalities) are ideological constructs.
Japan went through an economic growth and westernization in
60s and 70s. To explain this economic success, theorists
claimed that Japanese people exhibit unique characteristics
(e.g. groupism, homogeneity). This ideology emerged from the
sentiment that Japan has lost their traditional values during the
rapid postwar industrialization. Since then, Western style has
been dominating both public and private sphere (they wanted
to reclaim their identity). This notion has served the interest of
political leaders. The concepts of harmony, groupism and
homogeneity reduce conflicts in the society (pg. 20-21)
Criticism of Nihonjinor
 Monolithic, essentialist and reductionist view of Japanese
  culture—promoted as a form of cultural nationalism
  (Yoshino, 1992)
 Befu (1987) says that this ideology (the notion that
  Japanese people and culture are unique) works to rescue a
  Japanese identity threatened by Westernization, which
  manifests power relationships between Japan and West.
 It was used as an excuse to legitimate Japan’s position in
  the event of political and economic conflict.
“The soil in Japan is unique” “The quality of snow in Japan is
unique:
    Researchers often characterize Japanese culture as traditional, homogenous, group
     oriented, collectivist whereas western cultures are defined with labels such as
     individualism, self-expression and critical thinking.

    Japanese written discourse as indirect, implicit and inductive as opposed to English
     discourse , which is described as direct and deductive.

Examples from research: Carson (1992) says schooling in Japan values group goals over
individual interests. Teaching techniques emphasizes memorization, repetition and drilling.

Similar cultural image was presented by McKay (1993)—writes about ideologies in teaching
of writing. Asian cultures value conservation of knowledge and favor reproductive mode of
learning that stress imitation and memorization. In contrast, western cultures favor extending
knowledge emphasizing critical thinking and hypothesizing.

Atkinson (1997) points out that the concept of critical thinking presupposes individualism and
is incompatible with Asian cultural values.

Fox describes the Japanese written discourse with labels such as “politeness”,
“indirectness”, “vagueness” and absence of critical thinking.
Group work
 What are the counter knowledge/case against cultural
  determinism that she discusses in the article?
The case against
     deterministic thinking
Recent educational research show that Japanese preschool
and elementary school curriculum does promote creativity,
original thinking and self-expression
 Spack (1997) problematizes the static image of ESL
  students as bound by their native culture.
 Zamel (1997) emphasized the complexity, idiosyncrasy and
  unpredictability of L2 writing.
 Lewis (1992) “first grades were observed in an animated
  discussion” during the reading lesson. He also reports that
  Japanese elementary school teachers recognized various
  approaches that students used to solve problems (p. 23)
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)

 Such representations need to be viewed as particular
  knowledge rather than objective truth (p. 25) They
  also need to be reevaluated from the point of view of a
  discourse in which power relations construct and
  legitimate such beliefs.
Pedagogical issues/three
     approaches to ESL teaching
 The acculturation model



 The pluralist model



 Critical multiculturalism
Critical literacy approach
   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 roup 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.

READ THE QUOTE ON PAGE 29
Barbara’s story
 The main points
1) 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)
Summary
NARRATIVE, 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 own
culture—they simply need to acquire new cultural conventions in order to
succeed in the academic community” (p.14)—What pedagogical model in Kubota
1999 does this fit in?
Contrastive Rhetoric
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 writing
Contrastive Rhetoric/Intercultural Rhetoric: What is the impact of
culture on writing? How do students negotiate the composing
conventions in their own L1 literacy practice and the writing
convention of the target language? (Atkinson, Enkvist, Hinds, Connor,
Kubota, Kaplan, Matsuda, Nelson )
Examples by Connor
 Compares and contrasts a Flemish applicant’s and
  American applicant’s cover letters.

What are some of the rhetorical and lexical differences
can you identify in both letters?
Robert Kaplan’s Contrastive Rhetoric argument: Cultural
Though 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; Romance languages
    employ extraneous material 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”


                                                30
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 have
comparable language skills (they were all developmental writers)

Fault # 2: He was making assertions about one’s L1 writing rhetoric and
thought patterns based on a general L2 essay structure. Other factors such as
topic knowledge, language proficiency, educational background also influences
students paragraph development

Fault # 3: Rhetorical deviations he found in NNES students were similar to the
rhetorical errors made by NS students

Fault # 4: Considering standard English speaking NSs as the norm-
overlooks the plurality within language groups! Native English speakers do not
all write in linear, straight line paragraph development. Members of different
discourse communities write in different genres.
Faults in argument
            continued
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.
Also, see the various domains of studies within the field of
contrastive rhetoric (p. 226)
e.g. text linguistics, classroom-based collaborative research,
genre-specific contrastive investigations
See examples of studies on pg 230-232.
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. What is good writing in China vs U.S. in
    different academic discourses?

   Casanave suggests that students in classes could react to texts written
    for the same purpose in L1 and L2 and discuss cultural expectations for
    certain types of writing.
ESL Assignments/Notes
    based on CR/IR
As a way to focus on rhetorical strategies, ESL instructors
in Indiana unv. Try the following assignments:
Chose two magazine advertisements that sell the same
kind of product but appeal to audiences in different
cultures, but have similar socio-economic classes (luxury
car ad in Germany and a secondary luxury car as aimed
at people in the U.S.
(You may try this ad analysis assignments targeting
different 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

                               36
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
  differences




                            37
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.




                                             41
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


                                42
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)



                                      43

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343 week 6 002

  • 1. ENGLISH 343 Week 6: Cross-cultural differences in writing, cultural representation constructed by dominant discourses
  • 2. Agenda  Your Voices: General discussion on three articles  Kubota’s work 1) Japanese culture constructed by discourse 2) Unfinished Knowledge: The story of Barbara  Connor’s article on CR  Documentary: Writing Across Borders  Discussion and group work on responding to an L2 writing REMINDER: Please double check if your individual blog is visible on the class blog.
  • 3. 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 come to an understanding that cultural differences are constructed by discourses rather than existing a priori (notion of culture as a discursive construct)  To problemitize binaries in Japanese culture (as an example)  To discuss various approaches to ESL teaching (specifically on writing): Acculturation model, pluralistic and critical literacy.  To understand what CR is and how we can apply this knowledge to ESL/EFL teaching See the video by Edward Said:
  • 4. Orientalism_Interview with Edward Said  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwCOSkXR_Cw
  • 5. 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?
  • 6. Alexis says  According to Kubota, “ESL teachers need to ensure that their students have opportunities to develop skills that allow them to participate fully in the dominant society” (p. 30). Also, teacher and learners need to develop a critical awareness of the social-cultural consequences of using the dominant language and to find ways to incorporate the dominant language to create different meanings. I agree with this statement. Teachers need to help ESL students develop those skills in order to be successful in society but make sure that they preserve their culture differences. My question is how do teachers find this balance of teaching English writing to speakers of another language and help them uphold their voice in their own culture? Also, how do teachers of ESL students not stereotype a cultures writing when teaching a student about writing in English? How do you learn about a student’s writing culture without being stereotypical?
  • 7. Joe says…  I am in complete disagreement with Atkinson’s belief that “critical thinking is a social practice unique to western cultural traditions (11). Dangerous assumptions like this are what often limit ESL students and coerces them into negative self-fulfilling prophecies. As we have discussed in this class many times, each distinct culture is also completely filled with individual differences and variety. It is simply wrong to say that an entire culture is incapable of critical thinking. However, I enjoyed reading Kubota’s narrative about Barbara. Barbara’s story should inspire those teachers that feel they are not “diverse” or have never had an opportunity to travel outside their own culture. Without ever leaving the country or learning another language, Barbara transformed from a culturally unaware teacher to a complete advocate of multicultural education. With the help of her colleague Carol and her love interest David, Barbara changed how she ran her classroom. For example, she phrased questions and comparisons to avoid making American culture seem more sophisticated or superior to other cultures. Even something as simple as a teacher’s word choice can change the comfort level of the students in the classroom.
  • 8. Emily says…  According to Kubota’s 1999 article, people define cultures with labels, whether or not they know them to be true. However, because the labels are distinctive, the labels are perceived as correct. This knowledge is not true, scientific, or neutral. It just allows groups to have power over each other. When people continue to use the labels, it enforces the different levels of stereotypes and power. For example, many people say “no homo” as if there is something wrong with being homosexual. The more that people use this phrase, the more it is reinforced as a norm and as an accepted stereotype. Kubota states, "It is in discourse that power and knowledge are joined together," which means that through discourse, power is spread. Labels create difference instead of aiding the togetherness of cultures. Concepts of certain groups are constructed by others; it does not define the group because the labels are not self- reflective.
  • 9. Alice says…  Cultural understanding cannot exist outside of discourse, yet we can critically examine this discourse in order to understand power relationships among cultures. With an awareness of discourse, we can start to combat colonial mindsets, such as Otherness. (I also found it interesting to learn that cultural groups can also use discourse to their own advantage, as illustrated by Japanese theories of nohonjinron and nihon bunkaron. I was aware that colonizers used discourse to maintain power, but I was surprised to see that discourse was also used in response to Western dominance.)
  • 10. Alice continues…  I agree with Kubota that English teachers need to be careful about connecting their students’ actions with social and ideological values of a certain culture. Kubota maintains that “power…is not unidirectional, nor is discourse monolithic” (“Japanese Culture Constructed by Discourses” 22). In other words, discourse is multi-facted. As English teachers, we should feel challenged to help our students develop awareness and think critically about the functions and purposes of cultural discourse. We should respect our students’ linguistic backgrounds in order to help create equality. We should give students an opportunity to critically analyze their own languages, as well as English. I believe that if we help them, they can develop an understanding of the discourse of power in order to negotiate and create their own individual identities in the midst of (and perhaps in spite of) cultural determinism and Orientalism. I think this is where the idea of contrastive rhetoric can come into play. If we, as teachers, can understand some of the differences in writing across cultures, then we can help our students write to an English-speaking audience with specific expectations while still respecting various writing styles.
  • 11. Tomas says…  I guess before that and since then I haven't much considered or entertained the idea that individuals from other cultures will approach communication differently. I feel like contrastive rhetoric is an off-shoot of discourse analytics, but in a different form. I suppose we're all kind of familiar with the notion that people approach communication in different ways, and that misunderstandings typically arise from a lack of understanding between interlocutors. So I see how it is important for us as future educators of English as a second language to be cognizant about these issues that will inevitably arise with teaching the rhetorical stylings of English. It is a delicate balance between helping students maintain their identity and voice while also successfully using the rhetorical strategies and devices of their L2. 1. Is anyone else becoming really, really hyper-critical of the conversations they have with others? 2. Why isn't there more of an emphasis placed on educating people about this stuff earlier in life? It seems like this knowledge would be valuable to more than just future ESL teachers.
  • 12. Kubota, R. (1999) Japanese culture constructed.
  • 13. Kubota (1999)  What are the goals of Kubota’s 1999 article?  What does she do in this article to convey her arguments? What are some of the rhetorical strategies she uses to convince the readers?
  • 14. Her arguments  She problematizes taken-for-granted cultural labels found in the applied linguistic literature by taking Japanese culture as an example. She critiques essentialized representation of Japanese culture found in various articles and moves us beyond the binary definitions. e.g. Asian culture values collectivism and discourages creativity and critical-thinking.  She finds out how these arguments are a reflection of the constructed Other in colonial discourse.  She defines cultural difference as involving complex issues that require critical scrutiny.  She claims that Japanese identity and national character was defined by “nihonjinron”
  • 15. Kubota argues…(p.15)  The argument here is not that cultural differences and human agency do not exist. The way people think, speak, write, and behave is certainly influenced by culture in which they are brought up, and certain cultural differences indeed exist. Nor do I reject the notion that people as human agents have individual lived experiences and voices that may not be shared by other members of the same culture. Although cultural similarities, diversities and individual factors as well as cultural differences are worth exploring, instead I attempt a critique from a different perspective, namely, a critique of cultural representation from the concept of discourse and power/knowledge
  • 16. Group work  In your groups, identify the essentialist and determinist cultural assumptions that exist about Japanese culture.
  • 17. Theories on the Japanese  Nihonjinron (gained popularity in 60s and 70s)—the notion of cultural uniqueness The characteristics of Japanese identity (like many other nationalities) are ideological constructs. Japan went through an economic growth and westernization in 60s and 70s. To explain this economic success, theorists claimed that Japanese people exhibit unique characteristics (e.g. groupism, homogeneity). This ideology emerged from the sentiment that Japan has lost their traditional values during the rapid postwar industrialization. Since then, Western style has been dominating both public and private sphere (they wanted to reclaim their identity). This notion has served the interest of political leaders. The concepts of harmony, groupism and homogeneity reduce conflicts in the society (pg. 20-21)
  • 18. Criticism of Nihonjinor  Monolithic, essentialist and reductionist view of Japanese culture—promoted as a form of cultural nationalism (Yoshino, 1992)  Befu (1987) says that this ideology (the notion that Japanese people and culture are unique) works to rescue a Japanese identity threatened by Westernization, which manifests power relationships between Japan and West.  It was used as an excuse to legitimate Japan’s position in the event of political and economic conflict. “The soil in Japan is unique” “The quality of snow in Japan is unique:
  • 19. Researchers often characterize Japanese culture as traditional, homogenous, group oriented, collectivist whereas western cultures are defined with labels such as individualism, self-expression and critical thinking.  Japanese written discourse as indirect, implicit and inductive as opposed to English discourse , which is described as direct and deductive. Examples from research: Carson (1992) says schooling in Japan values group goals over individual interests. Teaching techniques emphasizes memorization, repetition and drilling. Similar cultural image was presented by McKay (1993)—writes about ideologies in teaching of writing. Asian cultures value conservation of knowledge and favor reproductive mode of learning that stress imitation and memorization. In contrast, western cultures favor extending knowledge emphasizing critical thinking and hypothesizing. Atkinson (1997) points out that the concept of critical thinking presupposes individualism and is incompatible with Asian cultural values. Fox describes the Japanese written discourse with labels such as “politeness”, “indirectness”, “vagueness” and absence of critical thinking.
  • 20. Group work  What are the counter knowledge/case against cultural determinism that she discusses in the article?
  • 21. The case against deterministic thinking Recent educational research show that Japanese preschool and elementary school curriculum does promote creativity, original thinking and self-expression  Spack (1997) problematizes the static image of ESL students as bound by their native culture.  Zamel (1997) emphasized the complexity, idiosyncrasy and unpredictability of L2 writing.  Lewis (1992) “first grades were observed in an animated discussion” during the reading lesson. He also reports that Japanese elementary school teachers recognized various approaches that students used to solve problems (p. 23)
  • 22. 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)  Such representations need to be viewed as particular knowledge rather than objective truth (p. 25) They also need to be reevaluated from the point of view of a discourse in which power relations construct and legitimate such beliefs.
  • 23. Pedagogical issues/three approaches to ESL teaching  The acculturation model  The pluralist model  Critical multiculturalism
  • 24. Critical literacy approach  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 roup 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. READ THE QUOTE ON PAGE 29
  • 25. Barbara’s story  The main points 1) 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)
  • 26. Summary NARRATIVE, 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 own culture—they simply need to acquire new cultural conventions in order to succeed in the academic community” (p.14)—What pedagogical model in Kubota 1999 does this fit in?
  • 28. 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 writing Contrastive Rhetoric/Intercultural Rhetoric: What is the impact of culture on writing? How do students negotiate the composing conventions in their own L1 literacy practice and the writing convention of the target language? (Atkinson, Enkvist, Hinds, Connor, Kubota, Kaplan, Matsuda, Nelson )
  • 29. Examples by Connor  Compares and contrasts a Flemish applicant’s and American applicant’s cover letters. What are some of the rhetorical and lexical differences can you identify in both letters?
  • 30. Robert Kaplan’s Contrastive Rhetoric argument: Cultural Though 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; Romance languages employ extraneous material 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” 30
  • 31. 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 have comparable language skills (they were all developmental writers) Fault # 2: He was making assertions about one’s L1 writing rhetoric and thought patterns based on a general L2 essay structure. Other factors such as topic knowledge, language proficiency, educational background also influences students paragraph development Fault # 3: Rhetorical deviations he found in NNES students were similar to the rhetorical errors made by NS students Fault # 4: Considering standard English speaking NSs as the norm- overlooks the plurality within language groups! Native English speakers do not all write in linear, straight line paragraph development. Members of different discourse communities write in different genres.
  • 32. Faults in argument continued 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)
  • 33. 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. Also, see the various domains of studies within the field of contrastive rhetoric (p. 226) e.g. text linguistics, classroom-based collaborative research, genre-specific contrastive investigations See examples of studies on pg 230-232.
  • 34. 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. What is good writing in China vs U.S. in different academic discourses?  Casanave suggests that students in classes could react to texts written for the same purpose in L1 and L2 and discuss cultural expectations for certain types of writing.
  • 35. ESL Assignments/Notes based on CR/IR As a way to focus on rhetorical strategies, ESL instructors in Indiana unv. Try the following assignments: Chose two magazine advertisements that sell the same kind of product but appeal to audiences in different cultures, but have similar socio-economic classes (luxury car ad in Germany and a secondary luxury car as aimed at people in the U.S. (You may try this ad analysis assignments targeting different audience “in the same culture” man vs women)
  • 36. 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 36
  • 37. 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 differences 37
  • 38. 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?
  • 39. 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.
  • 40. 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.
  • 41. 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. 41
  • 42. 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 42
  • 43. 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) 43

Editor's Notes

  1. Value of assimilationist – helping someone acquire dominant discourse, help them maneuver their way through certain ways of writing, talking, or doing isn’t necessarily bad or flawed. Sometimes it’s necessary when it has real material consequences (failing or doing poorly in a course, hurting chances for advanced study, diminished earning power). The down side -- But, assimilation may involve active complicity with values and practices that undermine home and community discourse. Value of accomodationist – Teach/encourage students to code switch . It’s up to the student how much and when she or he wants to conform to dominant discourse practices. The down side: The student may reject the discourse altogether, but the resistance doesn’t challenge the status quo. In addition, the act of code switching doesn’t do anything to eliminate, racism, sexism, heterosexism, or xenophobiaValue of Multi-Cultural (notes for me – and that “stacking is NOT based upon merit but upon” factors such as the family they were born into, the discourses they had access to when they were growing up, or their sexual orientation -- Delpit) – The individual acts strategically and reflexively. The downside – This approach is hard. Exposing false consciousness and disrupting the everyday.