Masters Thesis

Teaching advanced composition to foreign students: focus on composing.

Writing is essentially a rhetorical problem--how to demonstrate to the reader that the ideas presented in a composition are valid, justifiable, logical, fair-minded, clear, and, therefore, convincing. But despite this fact, the emphasis in ESL writing courses has been predominantly structural. This kind of emphasis has been effective in correcting syntactic problems, but has grossly neglected the rhetorical foundation required for effective writing. Ironically, we have treated advanced ESI students as remedial writers. This contradiction has essentially "short-changed" this category of students. They have achieved the status of advanced ESL students precisely because they have the necessary second language competence to practice the process of composing, yet we deny them free access to this process, even in the latest composition texts, by retaining rhetorical control over their writing. Consequently, two insufficiencies result: valuable principles, techniques, and devices are not taught; and practice in the process of composing is significantly neglected. The assumptions of this study are that the advanced ESL student is capable of being instructed in the same manner by which the native speaker learns to write; that the advanced ESL student is not a remedial writer; and 2 that instruction on the rhetorical principles of writing should be immediately followed by practice in utilizing those principles in the art of composing.

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