Contrastive Rhetoric and Learning Centers latest

Contrastive Rhetoric and
Learning Centers
Multiple Cultural Awareness Raising Activities for Tutors
and Tutees
Helen Alexander
Cal State, Fullerton
Saddleback Community College
Kaplan’s theory of contrastive rhetoric
◦ Limitations and detractions
Activities for learning centers to use this
theory based on Severino’s work
◦ Tutors
◦ Tutees in workshop or portfolio structures
Awareness of the diverse ways that ideas can
be organized in writing to convey a message.
Practice with contrastive rhetoric, an
approach designed to use the diversity of
organizational patterns to help both instruct
and build understanding.
Concrete, ethnographic activities that can be
taken back to the classroom or center to be
used as training for tutors or enriching
projects for tutees.
Activity #1
What makes writing good? Right now,
take 5 minutes and jot down a rough
paragraph about what you think good
writing is.
 Also write down your:
◦ Educational background (major)
◦ Writing training (outside of school)
◦ Current job title (teacher, trainer,
Kaplan’s Original Theory
Kaplan’s original work pertained mostly to inter-language
differences, but fields and contexts have their own approaches as
well (see Jones, 2007).
Kaplan, R. B. (1966). Cultural thought patterns in intercultural
communication. Language Learning, 16, 1-20.
◦ For ESL teachers, focused on ideas for helping predominantly advanced,
adult ESL writers acquire what they needed to communicate in written
◦ Incorporated a study using 598 international student essays
representing 3 groupings (Middle Eastern/ Asian/ European*) to
illustrate that the logical order of a paragraph varies from language to
language, and discussed how contrastive rhetoric can be used to help
non-native speakers learn to write expected-English paragraph
◦ While recognizing more work still needed to be done, a preliminary
attempt to show the different structures to help students & teachers
compare paragraph organization and logic has become known as the
“Doodle” theory.
Kaplan’s Activities
Scrambled sentences & topic
sentence/supporting ideas (Kaplan, 1966).
Please take the envelope on your table and
arrange the sentences therein in a way
that you believe to be most logical. Share
your results with another person/pair.
Justify your answers.
Concerns Raised
Leki (1991)
◦ Intuitive versus quantifiable data
◦ Process versus product controversy
 Focusing on the text does not mean process is ignored.
◦ Developing writer, or interference?
 To say an L2’s problems (or even a native speaker!) are just those of an
inexperienced writer is to denigrate their previous education and schema.
◦ Modern research (80s on): Focus and Limitations
Insight into cultural predispositions or stereotypes?
Difficulties in choosing “typical” texts or even text-types
Examining form versus linguistic &/or discourse features
Metacognitive & audience awareness and student esteem as pedagogical advantages
Scollon (1997):
◦ Rhetoric or Poetics?
 More than structural studies (poetics) need to be taken into account to make
contrastive studies and consequently contrastive practices effective for helping
non-native speaker learn.
◦ Context and medium need more attention as well.
CR Revisited
Kaplan’s contribution to a book for approaches to writing
(1997) brings into focus a pedagogical approach to
contrastive rhetoric by illustrating how the answers to the
What can be discussed?
What is evidence?
How can that evidence most effectively be organized?
To whom may this text be addressed?
are at the heart of what students need to be conscious of when
writing meaningful text.
 He posited a model of text generation and reception, and an
in-class visual implementation of contrastive rhetoric analysis,
designed to raise the students’ awareness of all the factors in
creating a comprehensible text in the target language.
Severino’s Approach: Self-as-Writer
ESL students would write about what was good
writing and how they learned to write in their
home countries. It asked them to contrast this
experience with what their teachers expected
here, and the tutors or organizers would ask
follow-up questions, enabling this original
document to be a central piece as multiple texts
soon grew from this initial exploration. This
◦ The students and tutors to build autonomy and
knowledge about their own schema.
◦ The teachers and center to create ethnographic
artifacts that can be used for research and training
Other Activities
You don’t know what you don’t know
until you know it! Why does this not
work in academic writing?
◦ ESL approaches from highly educated fields
 Psychology (Spanish first language)
 Engineering PhD (Korean first language)
Reverse Outlining
◦ Break down your own writing—what did you
do? Why? How can you revise it to better
meet your readers’ needs?
Jones, A. (2007). Multiplicities or manna from heaven? Critical
thinking and the disciplinary context. Australian Journal of Education,
51(1), 84-103.
Kaplan, R. B. (1966). Cultural thought patterns in intercultural
communication. Language Learning, 16, 1-20.
Kaplan. R. B. (1997). Contrastive rhetoric. In Tom Miller (Ed.),
approaches to written text: Classroom applications (pp.
18-32). ERIC. Washington, DC.: United States Information Agency.
Leki, I. (1991). Twenty-five years of contrastive rhetoric: Text analysis
and writing pedagogies. TESOL Quarterly, 25(1), 123-143.
Scollon, R. (1997). Contrastive rhetoric, contrastive poetics, or
something else? TESOL Quarterly, 31(2), 352-358.
DOI: 10.2307/3588051
Severino, C. (1993). The doodles in context: Qualifying claims about
contrastive rhetoric. Writing Center Journal, 14(1), 44-62.

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