Pronouns in discourse: International and United States TAs construct social groups and identities
AuthorRoepcke, Yvonna Marie
KeywordsEducation, Language and Literature.
AdvisorHill, Jane H.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study examines person pronoun use in the discourse of TAs teaching freshman composition. Specifically, it analyzes participant structures and construction of social groups/entities and identities in the classroom talk of four Chinese international TAs (ITAs) and four US TAs. Data are drawn from observation notes, audiotapes, and resulting transcriptions of sixteen class sessions, as well as interviews with each participant. The most common participant structure involves the teacher interacting with the whole class. Analysis of social constructions of you reveals preference for constructing you as the copresent students. I propose that we recognize two categories of you, Individuating and Distributive. These forms function outside the conscious awareness of the participants. Examination of we shows preference for constructing we as the inclusive group of teacher and students. Activities of this group function on a continuum with varying roles and levels of responsibility for teacher and students. Analysis reveals that in the composition classroom the semantic value of the verb write is broader than its core semantic value. Other inclusive wes include the teacher and students but are larger entities. The only common exclusive we is the group of 'experts in the field,' whose membership is in flux; students are invited to be members as they are socialized to the academy. In addition to canonical uses of pronouns, in moments of deictic shift TAs take other voices highlighting pedagogical points. Analysis of social identity through group membership maps illustrates the overlapping nature of group memberships. Some TAs disclose little about themselves in their classroom discourse. This style may be more damaging for ITAs. Analysis reveals that construction of identity as instructor of composition does not include the activity of writing. Statistical analysis of pronoun frequencies shows more consistency among participants as a group than differences between the groups of Chinese ITAs and USTAs. The participants use more yous than other pronouns. The single difference between the groups is the significantly higher frequency of second person plural pronouns for the Chinese TAs. This may reflect the cultural distance between the Chinese TAs and their US undergraduate students.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Aquisition and Teaching