Thursday, November 30, 2006

California & ELLs; Current projects

"Almost 30 percent of the non-English speakers in the United States live in California, many of them in households that are 'linguistically isolated' because they lack adults or teenagers proficient in English..."

I'm not sure I have anything to say about this article, I just thought it was kind of interesting.


Current papers:
1. "Oath as Paradox: The Complicated Act of Swearing to Tell the Truth." A paper that looks at oaths as speech acts, their religious meaning, their legal meaning, their use in conversation. Two muddled conclusions: 1) Our use of/demand for oaths shows that we don't expect people to tell the truth under normal circumstances, and/or 2) We don't even tell the truth when we do use oaths, so they must mean something new altogether. I suggest five possibilites for what they do in modern usage. I would have liked to spend some more time on this paper, but I feel like I learned a lot doing the research.

2. "Correcting the Fallacy of Contrastive Rhetoric: Bakhtinian and Ethnographic Perspectives." This one is being edited right now. Takes as a starting point a 1992 article by Terry Santos (my professor) in which she argues that ESL Writing as a field is pragmatic -- its aim is only to give students the tools they need to succeed in academic writing -- and that therefore it is unlikely to take up the mantle of ideology that has been so prevalent in L1 composition (e.g., social justice, "affirmation" of students' nonstandard dialects, promoting democracy). I argue that a) L2 writing has at least begun to accept a sociocultural orientation, b) that this is not a bad thing, because it remains pragmatic and encourages instructors/researchers to look at students as individuals. I "dis" CR for a while, and then argue that the application of Bakhtinian theory (which is all about hybridity, intertexuality, intercultural langauge/identity) can help to correct the fallacy of CR -- namely, an essentialized vision of culture that sees student writing as large-culture-bound. There's a section on Holliday's* "ethnographic imagination" that hasn't been fleshed out yet, but it's sort of about how ethnography can help teachers, researchers, and students better understand how ESL writing works.

3. Untitled Masters Project -- interviews with ESL writers, analysis of ESL writers' texts, etc. Gearing up for this one.

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