ERIC Number: ED423547
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Mexican Indirection: How To Help Mexican ESL Writers Channel Their Energies into Focused Essays.
Ransdell, D. R.
The fact that a writer's culture influences the composing style is undeniable. Spanish speakers writing in English often allow their points to "leap around," perhaps constituting a pattern the instructor does not see. In "Beyond Culture," Edward Hall explains that cultures operate under either "monochronic" or "polychronic" time. In the monochronic United States, events happen one after another according to a time schedule. In a polychronic system, however, several things might be happening simultaneously because the culture places emphasis on people rather than on preset arrangements. When an instructor lived in Mexico, planned outings were always delayed because someone would be late--a scheduled time had limited meaning. The way a culture measures time is indicative of a world view and permeates other areas of life, including composing patterns. The instructor knows how to focus on a thesis statement when composing and to keep asking how each little point fits in. But the result would not be the same for someone without training. Many students from polychronic cultures, such as Mexico's, produce essays that take roundabout paths, that are indirect, circuitous, and resistant of directness. Professor Raul Ybarra believes that the indirections students sometimes follow stem from a predilection for storytelling; in storytelling, digressions are common. The process of switching or adapting rhetorical styles is a complicated one that involves many components of composing and thinking, but by showing students that their cultural influences are natural, they will be more likely to accept the fact that changing their writing styles is an attainable and worthwhile goal. (Contains 8 references.) (NKA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Practitioners; Teachers
Authoring Institution: N/A