A cultural approach to ESL composition: Using popular culture to teach rhetorical conventions
AuthorRansdell, Diane Renee
AdvisorMiller, Thomas P.
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.
AbstractFor English as a Second Language students, learning to write academically effective essays is an immense challenge because the students must obey linguistic conventions, write for an unfamiliar audience, and employ rhetorical strategies that the audience expects. In composition programs the special challenges that ESL students face are sometimes overlooked. In this dissertation I provide a rationale for developing ESL composition programs and concrete strategies for doing so. To account for, understand, and accommodate rhetorical expectations for American academic audiences, ESL students need information that acts as an interface between conventions in their countries and the conventions American academic readers expect. The study of popular culture allows ESL students to develop such information by helping them decipher aspects of the culture they are living in. Popular culture texts reflect everyday uses of language and commonly held views because they are produced for general American audiences. They reflect widely accepted rhetorical strategies because audiences demand that texts be written according to their expectations. The process of studying popular culture is liberating for ESL students because it integrates learning about academic essay writing with broader cultural concerns. I concentrate on three genres of popular culture texts: ads, because their use of rhetorical appeals is so clear and because their content suggests American values; formula fictions, because they portray popular role models and follow readers' expectations; and news articles, which show examples of discursive domains and structural conventions. I also make suggestions for using contrastive analyses to help students perceive differences and similarities in cultural expectations, and I demonstrate partial results through research and samples from student writing. By incorporating popular culture texts into the ESL composition curriculum, we help students learn to communicate their ideas in practical, accessible ways. It is by actively targeting American culture as a focus of study and helping students develop tools to analyze popular culture materials on their own that we can make effective changes in composition programs for ESL students.
Degree ProgramGraduate College