Joan Bieber Karbach

Writing expressive discourse: ESL and native English-speaking freshmen

Joan Bieber Karbach

  • School: Purdue University
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 1993; pp: 135
  • Advisor: Lauer, Janice M.; Silva, Tony
  • Source: DAI-A 54/09, p. 3417, Mar 1994
  • Subjects: Language, General (0679); Education, Language And Literature (0279); Education, Bilingual And Multicultural (0282)
  • ProQuest Document Number:
  • ISBN:
  • UMI Number: AAT 9403724

Abstract:

    The number of foreign (nonimmigrant) undergraduates who enroll annually in American universities has increased from 179,000 in 1976 to 408,000 in 1991 (U.S. Bureau of Census, 1992), and the number increases yearly. This phenomenon makes it necessary for instructors of English composition to consider the needs not only of native English speaking students (NES) but also of students whose second language is English (ESL students) and who come from different cultures. One of the considerations in teaching ESL freshman composition regards the types of discourse that should be included. It has been suggested that expressive discourse is a Western practice that has little place in a multicultural classroom. This descriptive case study was initiated in an attempt to discover what characteristics are displayed by different language groups when writing expressively. The study concerns the expressive writing of ESL and NES college freshmen and seeks to answer the following questions: (1) What indications of epistemic value (i.e., reaching new understanding or gaining new insights) of expressive writing characterize native and non-native students? (2) What attitudes about expressive discourse characterize native and non-native students? and (3) What style features of expressive discourse characterize native and non-native texts? The six subjects involved in this project were students selected from the researcher’s class who came from three different language groups–Chinese, Spanish and English–one male and one female. The task involved writing two different expressive papers, the first about a significant place and the second about a significant relationship. The epistemic value of expressive writing was seen across language groups when all of the subjects self-reported at least reaching increased understanding, if not insight, in the writing of both papers. Variance in attitude occurred across language groups as well as between genders. And in the use of expressive style features, variance occurred chiefly across language groups. These findings are further discussed in the chapters concerning insight, attitude, and expressive style features as well as in the conclusion, which presents a profile of each language group and implications for theory, research and pedagogy.