Cultural Collisions in L2 Academic Writing


Learning to write in English for academic purposes presents a significant challenge for non-native speakers. Not only must they deal with the obvious linguistic and technical issues such as syntax, vocabulary, and format, but they must also become familiar with Western notions of academic rhetoric. (West or Western in this article refer primarily to North America.) Collisions of cultures are experienced when the discourse practices L2 writers are expected to reproduce clash with what they know, believe, and value in their L1 writing. For this article I reviewed a range of literature that addresses writing and culture. Described by researchers and by L2 writers are collisions regarding voice, organization, reader/ writer responsibility, topic, and identity. Implications for writing pedagogy include awareness of contrastive rhetoric on the part of ESL writing instructors; instructors' acknowledgment of and appreciation for the prior knowledge that students bring from their L1; realization on the part of ESL writing instructors that Western notions of,for example, voice are indeed just notions and are simply one way among many of expressing oneself; and a need for open discussion with students about how they might incorporate standard Western notions of writing without compromising their own identity.Apprendre a ecrire en anglais pour des fins academiques presente un defi de taille pour les locuteurs normatifs. Ils doivent non seulement assimiler les notions linguistiques les plus evidentes, telles la syntaxe, le vocabulaire et le format, mais aussi se familiariser avec les notions occidentales de rhetorique academique (dans cet article, occidental fait reference principalement ii 1'Amerique du Nord). Il se produit des collisions culturellesquand les pratiques discursives que les ecrivains L2 sont censes reproduire heurtent leurs connaissances, leurs croyances et leurs valeurs en L1. Pour ecrire cet article, j'ai passe en revue toute une gamme de documentation touchant la redaction et la culture. Les chercheurs et les ecrivains en L2 y decrivent des collisions impliquant la vaix, l'organisation, les responsabilites lecteur/ecrivain, le theme et l'identite. Parmi les consequences pour l'enseignement de la redaction, notons la conscientisation de la presence de rhetorique contrastive de la part d'enseignants en ALS; la reconnaissance et l'appreciation par les enseignants des connaissances anterieures que retirent les eleves de leur L1; la realisation de la part des enseignants en ALS que les notions occidentales sur, par exemple, la voix, sont justement des notions, c'est ii dire, unefar;on parmi plusieurs de s'exprimer; et la necessite d'une discussion franche avec les eleves sur l'integration de notions occidentales dans leurs redactions qui ne compromet pas leur propre identite

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This paper was published in TESL Canada Journal.

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