« blogging on the installment plan (there IS a part 2) | Main | An Ode to the Deskies »

non-native speakers have all kinds of style!

today after watching the videos and discussing a little bit about it in class, i realized that i find non-native speakers' ways of organizing essays refreshing and interesting. i suppose that in american culture we really value directness and brevity, and it is an excellent way of organizing your essay. i remember in high school when they gave us the "correct" way to format our essays. it was basically a mathematical formula: intro, thesis statement as your last sentence and contains all three subjects/paragraphs you will be talking about, conclusion that restates everything you have discussed in your paper and the thesis statement. disgusting, right?! ok not really, but i still find that it gets stale very quickly. when i was thinking about the video, especially the woman who said that someone from her culture would start a story with background and other information before getting to the main point, i found that method to be much more interesting. to be honest, i couldn't stand writing my papers to be in the "correct essay format" in high school. it made me a little ill to sit there and be like "therefore i think blah blah, and you can tell because blah, blah, and blah." replace the "blahs" with facts, and you have an A+ paper for high school writing assignments. where is the style in that? sure i know what you're going to talk about now, but i also think you're incredibly boring.

of course people can work with that system and still make their writing interesting. and it certainly is a very organized way of getting into any topic, and i guess in our fast-paced, impatient, orderly society, it's the best way of doing things. but i think a paper that gives me a twist to think about, or a paper that gives me rich detail and builds up background or a story for me is way more interesting. obviously i'm not out to change the way we write in america. all i'm saying is that non-native speakers have really cool ideas about writing. i loved hearing their different approaches from their respective cultures. i think it would be valuable to consider the way they are accustomed to writing when working with them. they can bring something really unique and fresh to their writing, and end up with something that stands out amongst the sea of regulated thesis statements. in standard american essay format, of course.

now all i have to figure out is how the two would work together.



I agree that American academic writing can be inherently boring, especially the blah, blah, blah of here's what I'm to argue in X number of ways, here's each of those ways, and here's that argument again. Seriously, how do people sit in a room and score those high school graduation and ACT essays?

I was interested by that little diagram that the video showed about different cultures and their organizational patterns: English was a straight, vertical line, then there were a bunch of zig-zags, spirals, and all kinds of fun stuff for the other ones. I feel like we might have mentioned that before, too. It looks fun; I want to write a zig-zag!