Discussion Questions for Class 04/22

Below are the questions I plan to ask for tonight’s discussion for people who may not be in class. I’m not posting with the intention of starting a discussion thread, but so that people can look at it if they’d like and also so that I do not need to provide a hard-copy to everyone. Thank You:)

Rebel’s Dilemma, bell hooks

  1. How do you think language shapes identity?
  2. On page 2 in the third paragraph hooks writes, “My desire to leave academic work has intensified not only because of the way its conventions restrict creativity in the classroom, but also the way it restricts the mind—the way intellectuals think and write outside the classroom.” As a student, do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why?
  3. How do you think instructors can avoid the predicament in question 1? In other words, how do you think instructors can adhere to the conventions without restricting their students? Is such a thing possible?
  4. hooks focuses on her personal conflict with academia and her culture. Have you ever felt or known someone who felt this type of conflict? How did you/the person you know deal with this? As current or potential instructors, how do you think we can help our students avoid such conflict?
  5. In her article, hooks references Frantz Fanon (2nd paragraph), a psychiatrist and author, who wrote about the issues of racism and colonization. In his book Black Skin, White Masks Fanon wrote “To speak…means above all to assume a culture, to support the weight of a civilization” (17-18). Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why or why not? For example, if you were to travel to a foreign country and began to speak the dominant language, would you be assuming that culture? Would it be possible to retain some of your own culture while becoming a part of another?
  6. This article was written 11 years ago, do you believe the issues hooks mentions surrounding feminism and racist stereotypes have changed? Do you think steps have been taken to alleviate rather than perpetuate these problems?
  7. Throughout her article, hooks refers to the “process of decolonization.” What do you think is meant by this? How do you think instructors and students can participate in this process?
  8. What do you think hooks means when she writes “We did not want to be imprisoned in institutions of higher learning that would reward us and then demand that we stop being outlaws—that we stop stepping out on the edge”? (1st paragraph, page 2). How might instructors encourage students to not conform?
  9. Is it possible to eliminate the “white gaze” that she refers to? How can it be eliminated?
  10. Is it as difficult to be a non-conformist in academia as hooks implies? Why/not?

Composition Studies and ESL Writing: A Disciplinary Division of Labor, Paul Kei Matsuda

  1. What is your opinion about Leonard Bloomfield’s statement, “Teachers at all levels ‘do not know what language is, and yet must teach it, and in consequence waste years of every child’s life and reach a poor result,’” (704)?
  2. How can composition instructors successfully accommodate ESL students in schools that lack a separate ESL program/course?
  3. Should ESL students be required to enroll in an undergraduate 1st year Composition course in addition to a special ESL writing course?
  4. How should the English language proficiency be assessed in ESL students?
  5. Do you agree with Fries that mastery of oral language is necessary for success in reading and writing? Why/why not? (pg. 709)
  6. How do separate ESL and Composition courses benefit students? How might they be detrimental to students?
  7. With ESL students in ESL classes, should they be held to different standards than Native English Speakers (NES)? For example, should they be expected to pass the WPST under the same requirements as NES? Why/not?
  8. Last week we discussed the abrupt move from high school to college. How could such a drastic shift be eased for ESL students coming from a foreign country?
  9. Should graduate Composition students be expected to take a 2nd language course? Why/not?
  10. Explain the benefits of TESOL and Composition as distinct fields.
  11. Should TESOL and Composition be separate fields?
  12. In addition to the suggestions on page 717, in what ways can instructors provide an “ESL-friendly learning environment?
  13. What is meant by “the needs of international ESL students tended to be quite different from those of basic writers and immigrant ESL students” (708)? What do you think some of these needs might be?

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