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ERIC Number: ED540368
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 254
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-2672-6132-8
Rhetorical and Lexico-Grammatical Features of Argumentative Writing in Spanish as a Heritage Language and as a Second Language
Paredes, Sofia M.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Davis
Student academic writing in higher education is a central component of language programs whose purpose is to promote advanced literacy in the target language. At this level, students are required to produce texts that are analytical-argumentative in nature. This type of genre requires writers to formulate an interpretative statement or thesis and support it with examples and evidence. Utilizing the theoretical framework of Systemic-Functional Linguistics (Halliday, 1985; Martin & Rose, 2003; Colombi, 2003, 2006, 2009; Schleppegrell, 2004; Christie & Derewianka, 2008; Rothery & Stenglin 1997, 2000), this dissertation examines the relationship between argumentative strategies, logical organization, and lexical-grammatical features in two types of argumentative texts, the expository essay and the literary analysis essay. The corpus of this study consisted of 75 texts produced by university-level learners of Spanish who were novices with regard to the use of Spanish for argumentative purposes. Forty-two of the 75 texts were expository essays written by speakers of Spanish as a heritage language on the topic El corrido in Mexico and the United States. This composition was the fourth and last written assignment in the first trimester of a language program specifically designed for home-background speakers who have acquired Spanish mainly through informal oral interactions at home or the community. The second group of texts consisted of 33 literary analysis on the short novel The House on Mango Street. These essays were written by students of Spanish as a second language as the fourth and last written assignment in an intermediate-high Spanish Composition course with emphasis in the development of an academic register. The previous instruction of this group of students had an emphasis on the development of speaking skills through a communicative approach. The results of the analysis show that even though the linguistic-rhetorical strategies of addition (Montano-Harmon, 1991) and reliance on personal experience or on the "everyone knows" type of data (Spicer-Escalante M. L., 2002, 2005) are present in the argumentative writing of speakers of Spanish as a heritage language, their rhetorical and lexico-grammatical repertoire is more comprehensive. It includes rhetorical strategies that are valued in an academic register such as definitional arguments of concepts; comparison of moral values promoted by the social phenomena being analyzed; evaluation of the representativeness of an instance proposed as a model; and the interpretation of the socio-political message that emerges from a story. In regard to the argumentative strategies employed by speakers of Spanish as a second language, the analysis shows that novice writers organized their interpretations on the novel by focusing on character recontextualization (description of qualities and emotional responses to conflicts) or on character development (personal growth as a result of being involved in the events of the narrative). In contrast, for more mature writers characters and their responses to adversity become tokens for values. Their interpretations articulate the dominant messages in the story as representations of values in conflict within the narrative and in the society at large. The results of this study suggest that there are crucial stages of abstraction development through which novices pass as they develop into mature writers. These stages are not restrictive categories, but rather tendencies towards configurations of meaning along a continuum of language development. Considering that diversity in language proficiency is prevalent in our language classrooms, the knowledge of the different language development stages through which language learners pass can assist instructors in the design and improvement of current curricula for the teaching of writing as well as to provide more differentiated feedback according to student's specific needs and language skills. This study includes specific pedagogical recommendations to promote an explicit teaching that identifies social purposes, grammatical structures and rhetorical strategies expected in the different type of argumentative texts commonly assigned in classrooms for both speakers of Spanish as a heritage language and as a second language. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A