ERIC Number: ED373325
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-May
Reference Count: N/A
ESL Students Writing Autobiographies: Are There Any Connections?
A doctoral student's interest in self-culture connections led her to observe an English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) writing class focused on autobiography and read all the students' papers. Autobiographical writing not only gives ESL students a chance to write about what matters to them, but the teacher can capitalize on students' cultural differences and their awareness of ideologies. The generic flexibility of autobiography allowed ESL students to explore all connections in their lives, so they made various rhetorical choices to present their self images. One group of seven students wrote life stories that had a trajectory of "coming to the United States," with an emphasis of the significance of English for their future. A "double consciousness" was evident in the accounts of a group of immigrant students who came to the United States in their early teens. These students tried to say something less "sayable" because when relocated in a different culture as young children, they lost their original identities and became "marginal." Older writers--in their early and late twenties--more consciously articulated the relation of their experiences to ideologies. Since the students wrote about what they cared for, they got more involved in the process of making themselves understood, which is central to literacy. The students' willingness to make connections went beyond writing: many saw their purposes in life more clearly in their later revisions, as writing autobiography helped them "envision" their future by recalling their past. (Contains 19 references and 5 notes. (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Author Text Relationship; Rhetorical Strategies; Writing Contexts
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Rhetoric Society of America (Louisville, KY, May 19-22, 1994).