Posts Tagged ‘ESL’

Horizontal divider

Using Current Events to Discuss Writing and Visual Rhetoric

posted: 9.17.09 by Traci Gardner

On the local news tonight, I heard a story about a letter sent to all Virginia Tech students outlining the precautions being taken on campus to avoid an outbreak of swine flu. On the other side of the U.S., Washington State University reported that 2500 students have contracted the H1N1 virus since classes started in August. Somewhere on your campus, you’ve probably heard or seen similar news and advice on avoiding swine flu.

All these stories make excellent texts for the classroom. Obviously, we want to share the information with students to help ensure a healthy fall term for everyone. In the composition classroom, these news stories and public notices also give us current texts we can dissect for use of persuasive techniques and visual rhetoric. Combined with similar materials from the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918, these materials give students the chance to consider how rhetorical techniques are adapted to fit the times.

I’ve gathered online resources that range from library exhibitions on the 1918 pandemic to current U.S. government materials on the H1N1 virus. You can supplement these materials with information distributed on your own campus and in the local community as well as from the Reuters Worldwide Coverage on H1N1. Here are four ideas for classroom activities to get you started:

  1. Much of the way we think about global pandemic, whether the spread of the H1N1 virus today or the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, is shaped by materials distributed by the government. Explore how these government sites present information on the 1918 pandemic: The Great Pandemic: The United States in 1918–1919, Influenza of 1918 (Spanish Flu) and the US Navy, and The Deadly Virus. Ask students to consider how the different sites blend historical facts and figures about the 1918 pandemic with more personal reports of the effects of the disease. Have students consider why these government sites exist and how they relate to the public health efforts related to the current H1N1 virus.
  2. Read these personal recollections of the 1918 pandemic, all in the form of transcribed oral histories, focusing on their use of specific details. Ask students to identify the details in the oral histories that make the stories vivid and authentic and to discuss what the specific details add to the oral histories that more general information would not have captured.
  3. Focus on visual rhetoric by looking at the posters and public service announcements. Use the Visual Rhetoric resources from the Purdue OWL to guide your exploration. For a historical twist, compare the techniques used in posters urging health and safety during the 1918 pandemic to those created for the H1N1 virus.
    As part of your exploration, students might design their own posters or videos.

  4. Tap the language expertise of ESL students you teach. Ask second language speakers to focus on how the same message is communicated in different languages. Are there significant differences? What cultural information must change to communicate the same basic message. Use the Stop Germs, Stay Healthy! posters from King County in Washington or the World Health Organization Documents on Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 to start discussion.

Comments Off on Using Current Events to Discuss Writing and Visual Rhetoric
Categories: Assignment Idea, Campus Issues, Document Design, ESL/multilingual writers, Visual Argument, Visual Rhetoric
Read All Traci Gardner

Horizontal divider

English as a Foreign Language

posted: 2.21.07 by Barclay Barrios

Have students find and review all materials in the handbook for second-language speakers. Then, in groups, ask them to expand these tips based on their own experiences with other languages as well as their experience with English: What tips do they have from studying other languages? What tips do ESL students in the class have to add?

Comments Off on English as a Foreign Language
Categories: Assignment Idea, Collaboration, ESL/multilingual writers
Read All Barclay Barrios