Sociocultural Context In Writing

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Research on writing has been classified according to its focus on four distinct yet interrelated aspects of writing: the written texts themselves, the form of written products, the composing process, and the method that people interact with their sociocultural contexts when writing (Cumming, 1998). The following are descriptions of these four research emphases. Focus on the written texts: One group of studies focuses on the texts that writers produce, for example, contrastive rhetorical analyses of how text forms differ across languages. Contrastive rhetorical analyses find their basis in an idea put forth by Kaplan (1966), who claimed that writers of different language and cultural backgrounds have different expectations about the forms that…show more content…
These studies, the volume of which has increased in recent years, reject the basic premise that we can understand writing by looking only at texts and the mechanics of how people produce them, and claim that we must also consider how we are affected by social issues when we write. Social issues include our personal backgrounds (e.g., is writing a common practice in our family?), our position vis-à-vis the text’s intended audience (e.g., in a workplace situation, what is our position vis-à-vis the reader?), and our ideas about how we want others to see us (e.g., are we trying to impress the reader with our vast knowledge of a certain topic? For more on this last aspect and similar questions of social identity, see Ullman, 1997.) Drawing on these issues, we see works on how writing reflects the ways students enter various academic disciplines (Karr, 2003; Krase, 2003), works on the conflicts students face when learning to write in academic contexts (Braxley, 2005; Curry& Lillis, 2004; Mathews, 2004; Rolon, 2004), and studies of the effects on writing of cultural aspects, such as whether the learners’ cultures generally place more value on oral or written expression (Dong, 2004; Harklau, 2003; Murie, Collins, & Detzner, 2004; Orr, 2005).As with research in other areas of adult ESL education, this overview of the research on writing highlights the need for more research to be organized specifically with adult second language writers in distinct contexts. Research on second language writing is expanding rapidly, but much of it still tends to focus on academic writing at the undergraduate- and graduate-student levels. One needs only to skim the annotated bibliography of writing research provided quarterly

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