ERIC Number: ED347552
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Contexts for Writing on the Border: The Community and the Constraints of Hispanic Freshman Writers. Presentation Draft Copy.
Cultural interference in writing classrooms includes linguistic and social differences that lead to mixed signals both for students and teachers and unshared expectations among this community of learners. This can be seen particularly at a place like the University of Texas at El Paso, where the Hispanic community of students comprises approximately 60% of the student body. Despite the dramatic increase in minority enrollment nationwide, these students experience problems such as prejudice, interaction difficulties, and cultural gaps. For example, Hispanic students may not share simple expectations about reading or the structure of written work as held by American educated students. Case studies of two Hispanic students, Rene and Rocio, demonstrate essential concerns. Rene's case study exemplifies numerous instances where cultural interference caused frustration. His attempt to make excuses for late assignments due to illness was viewed suspiciously by the instructor. Rocio's work was late because she had to take her mother somewhere. Both of these excuses are routine priorities in Hispanic culture and show more respect for the person in authority in these students' view than if they had said truthfully that they missed the deadlines for no good reason. In written and spoken comments about peer writing, Hispanics tend to be timid and complimentary. Non-Hispanic students are more reserved in their praise and more specific with their comments. A language should be viewed as a cultural mirror reflecting the culture it represents, so that English teachers also must become more aware that to teach English for the 21st century is to learn and teach culture as well. (HB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: University of Texas El Paso; Writing Contexts
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (43rd, Cincinnati, OH, March 19-21, 1992). Revised title: Mixed Signals/Unshared Expectations: Building Bridges between Cultural Differences.