I'm not sure if this thing - HYPERresearch - is necessary for me at this stage of the game, but it's free and I've been playing around with it.
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Two emergent themes:
1. Choosing to represent certain aspects of culture because they are "easy" to write about, even if the writer doesn't really care that much about them. This is maybe is related to: a) crunch time - the Ss don't have much time to develop their essays, b) the teacher says to only write 2 or 3 paragraphs, so that's all they do.
2. Unconcern with cultural topics for class - Ss don't seem to care what they write about, as long as they are getting practice in English writing.