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English as a Global Language

Around the world, the English language is being used for communication among people who come from various language backgrounds—in fact, a majority of English users today grew up speaking other languages. As a result of these language contacts, the English language itself is changing its shape. While some people resist change, there is not much any individual—or a group of people—can do to reverse the trend. In fact, no one owns the language. Yet, people have various views about what English is or should be. 

One way to understand different perspectives on an issue is to conduct a rhetorical analysis of texts–spoken or written. Rhetorical analysis is a way of analyzing what the text can tell us not only about the subject and argument strategies but also about the interrelationship among the writer, the audience, the genre and arguments as well as the cultural values of the writer and of the knowledge community. 

For this writing project, write a rhetorical analysis essay (a kind of critical analysis essay) that examines an argument about English as a global language. Start by identifying a text that presents an argument about global English. The text can be of any genre—including newspaper editorial, opinion sections of newspapers or magazines, blogs, websites, advertisements, signs, posters, and so on. (Keep in mind that analyzing short texts could require more effort in interpreting and explaining the text and its context.) 

Once you have identified the text for analysis, explore the text and its context by considering the following questions: What is the writer’s purpose in writing the text? What kind of situation is the text responding to? Who is the writer? How does the writer establish his or her credibility? What is the writer’s attitude toward the subject? How do you know? Who is the primary audience? Who is the secondary audience? What is the major argument and how is it being built? What are some of the supporting arguments? What other arguments or perspectives are represented? What is the genre and what are some of the characteristic features that are expected? What are the characteristics that are actually found in the text? Is the text effective in communicating the main point to the audience? What can you say about the values and assumptions that are shared by members of the knowledge community? 

In addition to analyzing the text itself, you may also find it useful to find out about the medium in which the text was presented. Explore these and other related questions thoroughly to generate ideas for your writing. 

Learning Objectives

In this project, you will learn to

  • Analyze persuasive texts by examining the rhetorical context, argument strategies and textual features
  • Understand how to analyze the rhetorical features of various types of texts and images
  • Understand various perspectives on the global spread of the English language
  • Examine how arguments can be developed and presented to accomplish a rhetorical purpose
  • Write a critical analysis essay using the framework of rhetorical analysis

Audience

The audience for this project will be students and scholars of rhetoric who are interested in learning more about how texts are used to create meaning and to persuade the audience. It will be especially appealing to readers who are interested in understanding the changes that are happening to the English language as a result of the global spread of the language. Keep in mind that some of the readers may not have read the text being analyzed–you need to describe the text and its context as well as its relevant parts for them before analyzing the details. Consider submitting your rhetorical analysis essay to Young Scholars in Writing, a journal dedicated to publishing undergraduate student research in writing and rhetoric. http://cas.umkc.edu/english/publications/youngscholarsinwriting/guidelines.asp (Links to an external site.)

Genre: Rhetorical Analysis

A rhetorical analysis essay (a kind of critical analysis essay) analyzes how a text accomplishes its purpose by examining its purpose, writer’s identity construction, audience characteristics and needs, and the use of argument strategies and evidence in the larger context of the writing situation and of the cultural values and assumptions of the knowledge community. 

A rhetorical analysis essay often begins by introducing the text being analyzed and the context in which it was presented. The introduction also presents–explicitly or implicitly–the focus of the analysis or the main argument based on the analysis, which is usually about the effectiveness of the text in accomplishing its rhetorical goal or particular ways in which those goals are accomplished or not accomplished. 

Typically, the main part of the essay presents an overview of the text and its context, followed by the analysis of various rhetorical features that are relevant to your main argument presented at the beginning. The analysis may be organized by different rhetorical features, by the order of the original text, or by particular effects and how they are created, among other possibilities. 

The essay usually closes by returning to your main argument and by discussing its significance to the reader of your analysis. What are the readers to take away from your argument? How would you like them to understand the text you are analyzing and the subject being discussed in the text? What are the implications of your analysis in understanding or responding to the text being analyzed, or in constructing similar texts in the future? 

Genre Examples

Berns, Margie, Jeanelle Barrett, Chak Chan, Yoshiki Chikuma, Patricia Friedrich, Olga-Maria Hadjidimos, Jill Harney, Kristi Hislope, David Johnson, Suzanne Kimball, Yvonne Low, Tracey McHenry, Vivienne Palaiologos, Marnie Petray, Rebecca Shapiro and Ana Ramirez Shook. “Review Essay: (Re)experiencing Hegemony: The Linguistic Imperialism of Robert Phillipson.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics 8.2 (1998): 271-282. Print.

Clark, Roy Peter. “Why It Worked: A Rhetorical Analysis of Obama’s Speech on Race.” Poynter. 1 Apr. 2008. Web. 24 Jul. 2012. <http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/newsgathering-storytelling/writing-tools/88009/why-it-worked-a-rhetorical-analysis-of-obamas-speech-on-race/ (Links to an external site.)>

Dickinson, Greg. “Joe’s Rhetoric: Finding Authenticity at Starbucks.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 32.4 (2002): 5-27. Print. 

Ho, Ngan. “Ninja Assassin Rhetorical Analysis.” Pretty Asian. 1 Apr. 2011. Web. 27 Jul. 2012. <http://nganho.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/ninja-assassin-rhetorical-analysis/ (Links to an external site.)>

Lawansiri, Pokpong. “Analysis: Thailand Needs to Move Beyond Human Rights Rhetoric.” asiancorrespondent.com. Siam Voices, 7 Mar. 2011. Web. 27 Jul. 2012. <http://asiancorrespondent.com/49702/thailand-needs-to-move-beyond-its-human-rights-rhetoric (Links to an external site.)>

Readings

Graddol, David. English Next: Why Global English May Mean the End of ‘English as a Foreign Language’. London: British Council, 2006. PDF file. <http://www.britishcouncil.org/learning-research-english-next.pdf>

Berns, Margie, Jeanelle Barrett, Chak Chan, Yoshiki Chikuma, Patricia Friedrich, Olga-Maria Hadjidimos, Jill Harney, Kristi Hislope, David Johnson, Suzanne Kimball, Yvonne Low, Tracey McHenry, Vivienne Palaiologos, Marnie Petray, Rebecca Shapiro and Ana Ramirez Shook. “Review Essay: (Re)experiencing Hegemony: The Linguistic Imperialism of Robert Phillipson.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics 8.2 (1998): 271-282. Print.

Phillipson, Robert. “Linguistics Imperialism Re-Visited–or Re-Invented: A Rejoinder to a Review Essay.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics 9.1 (1999): 135-137. Print.

Berns, Margie, Jeanelle Barrett, Chak Chan, Yoshiki Chikuma, Patricia Friedrich, Olga-Maria Hadjidimos, Jill Harney, Kristi Hislope, David Johnson, Suzanne Kimball, Yvonne Low, Tracey McHenry, Vivienne Palaiologos, Marnie Petray, Rebecca Shapiro and Ana Ramirez Shook. “Hegemonic Discourse Revisited.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics 9.1 (1999): 138-141. Print.

Berns, Margie, Jeanelle Barrett, Chak Chan, Yoshiki Chikuma, Patricia Friedrich, Olga-Maria Hadjidimos, Jill Harney, Kristi Hislope, David Johnson, Suzanne Kimball, Yvonne Low, Tracey McHenry, Vivienne Palaiologos, Marnie Petray, Rebecca Shapiro and Ana Ramirez Shook. “A Closing Word.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics 9.1 (1999): 142. Print.

Phillipson, Robert. “A Closing Word.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics 9.1 (1999): 142. Print.

Wallraff, Barbara. “What Global Language?” The Atlantic Monthly Digital Edition, Nov. 2000. Web. 24 Jul. 2012. <http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/2000/11/wallraff.htm> 

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