TEACHING ACADEMIC WRITING AS A CULTURAL BRIDGE
American University of Sharjah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:One of the difficulties of teaching college level academic writing to EFL students is that most college composition textbooks are geared toward western native speakers. Consequently, university students from Asia or the Middle East, for example, are limited to critically analyzing and responding to the often bewildering idioms and unfamiliar contexts provided by solely American or British authors. Studies have shown that students are most engaged by readings that are relevant to their experience and interests. To make my course more relevant for students in this age of globalization, I vary the cultural context of assignments by providing readings produced in English by a variety of international authors, including those from the students’ own cultural heritage, thereby giving them the opportunity to experience academic discourse as writing that includes multiple perspectives. Additionally, I create writing assignments designed to help students adapt to inter-cultural communication. A particularly successful assignment I have used to highlight multicultural awareness engages students in writing an analysis of an editorial cartoon related to their own culture. Students are required to translate and elucidate the message of the cartoon for the benefit of foreigners. This assignment is a bridging activity, as the students write about their own culture for a global audience.
Keywords: esl, eap, academic writing, rhetorical conventions, writing instruction, multicultural, discourse.