Multicultural Rhetorical Systems and Perspectives

These are my notes from the multicultural rhetoric session at the Collin College Trends in Teaching Composition Conference.

Multicultural Rhetorical Systems and Perspectives
Amy Myrick, Amy Rule, Marta Moore

Collin College

“Quick and Easy Mississippi Motor Mouth Quiz”

lack of facility with language
lack of cultural understanding (including history)
lack of understanding about US academics’ expectations (plagiarism or no comp in their country)
rhetorical approach differences
rhetorical expectations (Japan = thesis in conclusion)

Dr. Marta Moore
Working with non-native speakers of English in academic writing.
By 2020, huge number of international students.
Growing trend in comp studies that challenges domination of English mono-lingualism in FYC.

Positive classroom culture:
Don’t single students out as non-native speakers.
Language is not the sum total of a student’s identity.
A brief assignment that allows all students to write about their backgrounds can diffuse some of the emotions about being accepted into the group.
Much of what you will cover will be new to native and non-native speakers alike: academic literacy, genre, vocab, grammar rules (Lindsey Ives and Tom Pierce).

Eye learners versus ear learners

Ear learners:
Learned English more through interaction and not likely in formal school setting.
This category would include second language learners who attended high school in US.
Strength with spoken language that may conceal a lack of facility with writing. (Joy Reid)

Eye learners:
Learned English formally, often as L2.
Tend to struggle with spoken English, but may have more ability to use writing and to use grammar correctly.

Ear learners:
Normally resident born in US, parents speak a language other than English at home.
Probably learned English by listening to spoken English on the radio, on tv, in stores, at school, etc.
Speaking English with friends, so sometimes non-standard.
Common strengths fluency in spoken English speech and familiar with slang and cultural references.
Common challenges = less familiar with basic grammatical concepts, inaccurate word choice based on sounds (human bean), less familiar with academic register
–so teach them academic writing
Strategies = assign reading from academic genres and teach strategic reading
Two others

Eye learners:
Most international and go back home. Good students.
Probably learned English in school as L2. Little exposure to spoken English.
Common strengths = very advanced understanding of grammar rules, familiarity with academic register
Common challenges = difficulty understanding spoken English, cultural expectations, other discursive features in academic writing.
Strategies = use visual aids, record major points from class conversations in writing, speak at a deliberate pace, rely on rhet sit to explain expectations for org, level of detail, etc

How to treat errors:
Use rubrics that are clearly articulated and stick to rubric when grading.
Need clear expectations and no unfairly weighted elements. (Ives)
Don’t mark everything that appears to be wrong. Focus on patterns of errors.
Find patterns of error and help students improve by focusing on the most serious problems.
Use writing conferences as way to provide feedback before assignment is due.
Help students learn self-editing.
Some ideas include reading aloud, error logs, and reading backwards line by line. (Ferris)
Record papers and listen to them.

How much grammar instruction?
Integrate grammar into other parts of class.
Keep grammar instruction brief and narrowly focused. (Ferris and Hedgcock)
Some basic error analysis early on (Ives and xxx)

Contrastive Rhetoric:
Rhet conventions from L1 can impact writing in L2.
Phonological features of L1 impact speech in L2.
Students educated in cultures that value complex, sophisticated sentence structure or in cultures that expect the reader to fill in details for self might see top-down, straightforward American style of writing as overly simplistic or even insulting to the readers. (Ives)

“brief and bold” = American style

error analysis Dulay, Burt, and Krashen
contrastive analysis rested on L1 and L2 comparison
differences were thought to account for majority of L2 learner’s errors
behaviorist view created contrastive analysis
Chomsky focused on mental make up of learners (along with Piaget).

Is learner’s language a dialect? (S. Pit Corder)

L2 learner has special dialect
1. any spontaneous speech intended to communicate meaningfully
2. some of the rules need to account for L2

for linguistics
L2 create interlanguage = not native or target
Error Analysis
He told that he was tired.
He told me goodbye.
Tell a few words about your vacation.
I would like to tell my ideas about this problem.
I have to tell that Bartok was a relative of mine.
He said me to do it.
–In English “tell” must always be followed by a personal indirect object—we say who we tell.

John international = tense issues, article issues (Asian)
Hector = late arriving international student (older)
Idiomatic preposition usage, summary statement but no central thesis
Luciana = early arriving international student (young)
Organization stronger. Concise. Clearly focused. Ability to paraphrase. Has transitions. More academic language.

Amy Rule
Background African-American dialect and disability
Create assignments that allow students to use their own home dialect
Last year Mexican student “Bad Woman” myth of her mother, then her realization that her mom cared about her… magical realism conceptualization
Vietnamese/Chinese beautiful expressions of English –Please do not disturb the growing grass.
Value those. This expression works. Keep it.

On other hand, other languages borrow English words indiscriminately.
English is dominating all languages.

Texas as Norwegian meaning of wild/crazy, over the top. Been around since the late 80s.
Salutation on email, very beautiful, eloquent:
Howdy, Professor Smith!

L2 mostly international students, but also permanent residents, also long-term …

Favorite things to do was work with rhet appeals in children’s literature.
Children’s lit books look scary. Want your students to feel comfortable.
Dear Deer (English is hard.) –that book with king rains
Eats Shoots and Leaves (grammar)
Wanting common ground…
Good Luck, Mrs K. teacher is sick
Ruby’s Wish Chinese student, growing in culture, praised for being smart—no longer expected to go to school, expected to become a wife
Thank You, Mr. Falker girl who struggles with learning disabilities, different area within the US
Smoky Night no texts for adults, based on LA race riots… used for 9/11… neat mixed media

History of the English language
Shows that inclusion is a huge value
English has always been an inclusive language.
We add to it. Roots in many different languages.
Use a lot of examples from African-American English: ask, aks… where came from? Why preferred? Not wrong. Just different. Where are my errors and what is just different? (Really. Aks is okay?)
Can’t meet with 25 people every day. Look at individual writing differently. Help them personally.

Connection, learn some of their languages and incorporate that

Make effort to say names correctly.

At Ohio State every professor wanted to make sure that they pronounced my name correctly. In Texas no one cared.

How we model in the classroom… hear the names and listen to the students… pacing that we use… time we take to think…

Non-native students that assume they need to adopt an American name. Do you like that name?

Try to use humor. When I talk about figurative language, “raining cats and dogs.” French say “raining like cow’s piss.” We all say things differently.

Animal sounds in Korean as opposed to in American. Co-co-ri-co. phonemes.
Free writing. Dr. Elbow…

Free writing—no grammar issues marked

Praise and honoring their use of their native language

Errors and Expectations by Mina Shaugnessy

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