Comparison/contrast essay

Process:

Prewriting:

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Consider how aspects of language and literacy influence people in society today.

Next, design a series of questions that would help you investigate how the same aspect of language or literacy influenced someone else. Your questions should be open-ended (not answerable with “yes” or “no”) and should help you collect rich, specific information about how and why that aspect of language and literacy influenced someone.

Interview:

Next, select an individual who is substantially different from yourself to interview. This might be a person of a different generation (at least 15 years older/younger), or from a different culture, ethnicity, or religious upbringing. Using your series of questions as a starting point, begin a dialogue with your interviewee and collect at least three pages of information, preferably direct quotes, that help explain how the aspect of language and literacy affected him or her, and what role it played in his or her own culture. You may wish to use a tape-recorder to preserve a transcript of the interview, or conduct your interview over email to have a written record of the discussion, or a combination of written and oral records.

Drafting:

Finally, compose an essay that explores the aspect of language and literacy you chose by focusing on cultural difference and change. As you write, you may wish to consider some or all of the following questions, but without allowing these questions to dictate the organization of your essay. How does your personal experience compare to the experience of the person you interviewed? How are language and literacy, themselves, different, and in what ways are those differences important? How did the interview affect your ideas about language and literacy. How did the interview affect your perception of how language and literacy can change over time or because of a specific environment? Be sure to include and explain direct quotes from your interview to substantiate your claims about cultural difference and the effect or impact of popular culture on people’s lives.

Format:

Your essay should be 3-5 typewritten pages and should observe MLA conventions for printing a college essay (Times New Roman 12-point font, standard margins). In addition, you should be careful to observe MLA format for citations (you will probably only cite the interview as a source).

Evaluation:

Essay 1 will receive a letter grade that will count for 8% of your final course grade. The successful essay will present and maintain a clear focus on cultural similarities and differences, be thoughtfully and generously developed, smoothly integrate and preserve the voice and words of the interviewee while maintaining the distinct voice of the author, and draw meaningful conclusions about some of the ways in which the definitions and influence of language and literacy changes over time, or are depending upon specific historical or societal conditions. Essays that do not integrate the thoughts and words of the interviewee and compare those to those of the writer, that fail to explore the implications of cultural difference, that have haphazard organization, or that are poorly developed will receive lower grades, as will essays with surface errors so numerous that they interfere significantly with communication.

*REMEMBER THAT THIS IS A COMPARISON/CONTRAST ESSAY.

 

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