An investigation of the cultural identity of four Lebanese University students as manifested in their academic essay writing (mainly argumentative) in Arabic and in English and some implications for teaching
thesisposted on 15.12.2014, 10:43 by Siham Salem El-Hassanieh
The cultural identity of multilingual Lebanese students is examined in academic writing (mainly argumentative) in Arabic and in English essays using case studies. This area is important because it helps reach an understanding on whether different languages allow us to take up different identity positions. Ivanid's theory of voice (1998) is used to look at how four students present themselves in their writing. Three research tools were used to collect the data. The first is the actual student scripts on 'Merciful Killing' and the second is semi-structured and in-depth interviews which were used to allow students to explain their attitudes and feelings when they write in both languages. Observations were used in two ways: as a participant observer in the preliminary stages of the investigation for exploring the area as an observer while researching sitting at the back of the class or going around and taking field notes. It was found that the two dimensions of the writer's voice: the 'discoursal self and the 'autobiographical self (ideational self) were in flux in the students' writings. In some cases, this lead to different representations of the self as they wrote in different languages. Findings and analysis suggest that the religious identity issue is consistent across languages reflecting the importance of religion in these students' lives. However, students take different identity positions when writing depending on the topic and the text type. This leads to important implications for teaching English as a foreign language, but requires further research.