Monday, February 26, 2007

Early thoughts: lit review, study subjects

number of articles on my computer for possible inclusion in lit review: 43
number of paper articles floating around the apartment for poss. inclusion: between 10 and 15
current number of articles summarized in my lit review: 8
goal for number of articles to be summarized in my lit review: around 20
due date for first draft of lit review: this thursday
have completely lost all sense of the meaning of the word: "culture"

I'm not sure how much general ESL stuff I want to include as opposed to L2-writing-specific stuff.

re: the above: how not to.


Did another interview today with a student who is leaving to be with her husband in the midwest. really glad i met her and included her in the study - she has had so much to say about culture and the writing process. she often used the phrase "it's a cultural thing" in her answers to my questions and today in one response she said "it's a multicultural thing," which i liked and thought was somewhat telling - although the idea of constructing a multicultural identity doesn't appear anywhere in her essays, it's definitely there when I talk to her; does this suggest that maybe the "Traditional" assignment about culture doesn't leave much room for writers to identify themselves as multicultural or to situate themselves within multiple cultures? maybe.

she speaks about taking the "best" from American culture but not the bad parts as she sees them. Her essay on culture seemed somewhat deterministic, so I asked her a little about how/whether she sees herself as having a unique identity or 'self.' She quickly mentioned she often wanted to do things seen as "strange" or "odd" by her peers/cultural norms. I asked her where she thought that came from and she said "maybe from God." I liked that a lot.


i don't have any "gen 1.5" students in the study, but they do have a wide variety of reasons for being here and plans to stay or not. one is married to an American and plans to stay "forever," one has parents who own a business in the US and he says he wants to stay in the US "maybe forever," one has a BA from a university in her home country but is going for another in a US university. Only one of the students plans to head straight back after his studies - i think because he has a job to go back to.

conventional wisdom suggests that it's those who immigrated as young children whom we have to be careful about when it comes to inappropriate cultural orientations (Harklau 1999) - treating them as newcomers and all but forcing them to write about countries that aren't "theirs" in any meaningful sense - but there is as much variation in relationship to the target culture, I think, among "traditional" ESL students. they may be relative newcomers, but they are actively "learning culture" and developing hybridized cultural identities.

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