Language Awareness

James Paul Gee states that a Discourse is a way of being in the world, “a socially accepted association among ways a using language, of thinking and of acting” in a particular social group, and each Discourse comes with its own “identity kit” “which comes complete with the appropriate costume and instructions on how to act and talk so as to take on a particular role that others will recognize” (18). Gloria Anzaldúa discussed what it means to participate in multiple linguistic identities while writing from those various identities. Consider Anzaldúa’s experience of language as you write about your own, and use her discussion as a tool to guide your own. Part 1: Investigation Consider your multiple Discourse communities and the various identity kits that come with them. One aspect of a Discourse identity kit is the language we use to participate within any given community. We all have multiple ways of speaking and interacting with others. You may speak to your parents or other relatives in your home Discourse differently than you speak to friends. You may speak one way in church and a different way at school or at work. You may have a different way of communicating via text message or on social networking and chat sites than you do in person. What I would like you to do is choose 2-3 Discourse identities and attempt to write about how you speak when you participate in them, in the style you use to communicate within them. How does your communication reflect who you are in this Discourse? Make the majority of the words on the page reflect your mode of communication as much as possible. Have fun with this, and get creative! So, if you speak a different language at home than you do with your friends, write in that language when discussing your modes of communicating at home (and don’t worry about translating). If you use a lot of cuss words when you speak to your friends, use them when you write about those interactions. Do you use different modes of spelling, text speak, or emoticons when texting or chatting? Use them when you describe texting or chatting. Try to make your written language look like you think you sound while participating in each community. When describing the language you use, while using the language you use, try to describe WHY you use the language you use. Part 2: Looking forward You are now entering a new Discourse in the university setting. Write a paragraph about what you think writing in this Discourse of Academic Writing will require of you while writing in the language you think you will be expected to use. Draw on what David Bartholomae discussed in “Inventing the University,” and what you have learned about academic writing up to this point in your education to accomplish this task. What do you think is expected of you when writing academically? Why do you think these expectations exist in academic writing? Do you believe that everything that is expected of academic writing is required for it to be “good” writing? Why or why not? What kind of academic writer do you want to be? Is that different from what you think is expected of you? In what ways? Language Awareness Assignment: (4 pages minimum/1400 Words) Part 3: Reflection The purpose of this assignment is to reflect on the various ways you use language in various contexts making this part of the assignment very important to your overall learning experience and grade. Once you have discussed three to four different language identities, including your new language identity as a university student, reflect on what remains constant no matter what community you are participating in. What stays the same? Why do you think it stays the same? What is emphasized by the changes in communication? What aspect of your “identity kit” are you highlighting when you make significant changes to the way you use language in different communities (that is, what do these language choices tell those around you about who you are within that particular community)? Why do you think the language choices and changes are significant for each community? Finally, what do you think about the fact that you make these shifts in language use (for the most part) unconsciously? Recognizing that you make these shifts in language without having to give it much thought, what do you think that means for your identity as an academic writer as you move forward in your college career? This reflection is the most important aspect of this assignment; so do not skimp in this section. Make sure to take the time to consider your language choices thoughtfully and deeply. Criteria • Part 1: (2 points) you should make your best effort to describe your language use in each context in the language that you use in that context. • Part 2: (2 points) Make sure to address this section in some detail. • Part 3: (5 points) your reflection should work to try to understand your shifts in language in a meaningful way. You don’t need to answer all or even any of these questions conclusively, but you should work toward articulating some new-toyou/us insights and implications. • Participation in Workshop (1 point). • Overall, this assignment should be a minimum of 4 pages long: 2-3 pages for parts 1 and 2 (a substantive paragraph for each context) and 1-2 pages for the reflection. • I don’t expect you to quote the texts referenced here, but I would like to see their concepts and ideas reflected in your discussion of your own language. If you do quote, make sure to use proper MLA citation format. • Careful editing is important here since you’re trying to recreate speech in writing in Part 1, but I won’t be grading for surface level issues (spelling, grammar, etc). • Try to have fun with this assignment. Be creative. This kind of essay doesn’t need an introduction and the reflection functions as your conclusion, so make it whatever you want it to be. This is an essay about how you use language and why, so make it all YOU. Language Awareness Assignment: (4 pages minimum/1400 Words)

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