During the 2012 spring semester, I was a teaching assistant for an English Composition 1102 class at Florida International University. I graded papers, held conferences with students, and guest taught the class.
Please visit my ENC 1102 website at:
These are samples ranging in genre that show the students how to compose an informative essay with quotes and interviews. There are two articles here from Cindy Chinelly’s class. The other is an informative essay with an open form.
It’s important to show the students how to incorporate interviews in essays and articles, so they see the structure and which quotes are significant and why they are significant. Lead by example, and these essays and articles reveal what makes a paper significant and meaningful through their insightful quotes. Also, analysis is essential in a paper or article. Why and how something happens is more important than what happens.
The first sample is an example of an essay with an analysis of a discourse community. The essay discusses how the gaming community communicates.
Discourse Community Sample Essay
U.S. Debate Team Article
“Crazy Things Seem Normal” Article – Val Kilmer
The purpose of my teaching was to instruct the students on the meaning of rhetorical appeals and to teach them how to identify them in the essay, “Living in Tongues” by Luc Sante. The piece is a literacy narrative on how language shaped the identity of a writer. I also focused on helping the students think critically about how language plays a role in their lives.
Below see the script I created to guide me during my class.
Questions for “Living in Tongues” discussion
Literacy Narrative Scoring Rubric
Text shows engagement with issues of language, literacy, rhetoric or cultures
– Theme relates to personal literacy, but also illustrates more universal principles
Even though some of us are not French, in what ways does Sante help you relate to his experience with language? How do you connect to his experience?
The emotional, psychological, unconscious, spiritual and early childhood part of Sante is represented by French, his “unguarded emotions.” The logical, intellectual, worldly, practical, and analytical part of him is shown through English: “[English] lies close to the core of my self-definition” and “my means for making a living.”
“The French language long corresponded to my soul, while English was the world.”
– Events selected clearly help the reader understand the issues of the theme
What themes does Sante use to connect events in his narrative essay?
All the events and exposition about his family and how they saw themselves or identified as being French even when they were trying to adjust to the United States carry the theme of identity. Sante, on the other hand, split his identity into parts, in order to assimilate into the culture. It seems his childhood is French, his adolescence and adulthood is English. He is primarily thinking in English, remembering in French, and feeling strongly about history and ancestry in Walloon.
What are specific details in the essay that convinced you of this theme?
Text demonstrates knowledge of persuasive appeals and rhetorical concepts in the first unit
– Ethos: Writer’s voice is convincing and authentic; is likable and personable
Let’s turn to page 57 in A&B and look at the bottom where the book describes ethos, pathos, and logos. Can someone read what ethos means? Good, now let’s look at the rubric and read what it says there. Now let’s refer to the essay.
What specific language in the essay can you identify that makes you believe in the narrative?
The ways in which he shared how language is a mental identity for him, and how it represents different parts of himself which are split convinced me his voice is authentic. In particular, I liked how the figurative image of a “complicated apparatus of air locks” which prevents the doors from being flung open all at once. I also liked “there are states of mind, even people and events, that seem inaccessible in English, since they are defined by the character of the language through which I perceived them.”
Sante’s intellectual voice and his knowledge of the history of the three languages makes him a credible narrator. He is not only telling a story about his family’s experience with language, but he is also informing the reader of the history and culture of the languages. Walloon, for example, is spoken about almost as if it’s an entry in an Encyclopedia. But the voice shifts to an emotional one when he recounts his childhood memories.
Throughout the entire narrative, Sante uses French words and provides the translation for them. He also mentions places in France and specific foods. In paragraph eight, he recalls the “makee,” farmer cheese that could not be substituted by cottage cheese or nircotta. Throughout the narrative, he makes you read words in French and also brings back specific images and memories of his childhood in Belgium. In paragraph two, he talks about his uncle, “Jules Stelmes, with his fedora and white mustache. He gives specific details: “raisin bread called cramique,” and the “tromp-lo’oeil pattern that convered the floor surface” of his great-uncles’ farmhouse.
– Pathos: Emotional moments are used to good effect in establishing the significance of theme
Let’s go back to Allyn and Bacon and read what pathos means. Now let’s look at the rubric and see where pathos is described. Can someone read this for the class?
Referring back to the essay, what are examples of emotional moments used to show theme?
In the second paragraph, he talks about his physical pain expressed in English and French, and he also relates an experience where he had to go to the restroom but couldn’t because he didn’t know how to say it in English. However, Sante doesn’t linger in the memories; he gives snippets of emotion, but it seems he is restrained emotionally throughout the piece. He does say the sound of Walloon affects him more emotionally than any of the languages, to the point of tears. Walloon and French bring back flashbacks of memories and emotions for him, but these are spoken of briefly.
Good, so it’s important to note that all these skills you’re learning are transferable. We can use these skills for any kind of writing. These strategies make for effective writing, so after you’ve written your essay or story, make sure to look for these concepts in your work.
– Logos: Events and details make logical sense and advance the reader’s understanding of the universal themes
The last one is logos. Let’s look at this one in the book and in the rubric.
How do the events and details make logical sense in advancing the theme?
He begins by explaining his identity and how it’s split between French and English which serve different purposes in his life. Then he gives sensory details of his childhood which are triggered by French, the “primal realm” and the unconscious part of him. Then he recalls linguistic memories of words in French and English. He then shifts back to his preschool life and describes an anecdote that was emotional for him.
He spends the next several paragraphs describing his family using exposition. He recalls their adjustment to English and their loyalty to French as well as their emigration experience.
He then explains how he learned to relate to English and French, contributing to the theme of identity. Most of the narrative is told in exposition, his family’s experience with English and Walloon. He then says how Walloon affected him: it’s more emotional than French. The last two paragraphs are a merging of the three languages and how they shaped him: “different aspects of my self are contained in different rooms of language.”
In the last paragraph, he explicitly states his theme, identity, and “having to construct” an identity. He analyzes how his experience with language helps him relate to other human beings and his connection to the world, which brings back the universal qualities of the piece.