Building Formal Schemata with ESL Student Writers: Linking Schema Theory to Contrastive Rhetoric

| November 1, 2008
Title
Building Formal Schemata with ESL Student Writers: Linking Schema Theory to Contrastive Rhetoric

Keywords: Constructivism; formal schemata; ESL writing; contrastive rhetoric; rhetorical form

Authors
Yuehai Xiao
New York University
ucyh@yahoo.com

Bio Data
Yuehai Xiao is currently a Ph.D. student in TESOL at New York University, USA. He received his Master’s degree in TESL from University of Cincinnati in 2003. He has eleven years of experience teaching both undergraduate and graduate English writing courses in China, Macau and the USA and has published six articles in such international refereed journals as TESL-EJ, Reflections on English Language Teaching, Sino-US English Teaching, and Second Language Writing News. His research interests include composition theories, ESL writing, second language acquisition, and translation. .

Abstract
Much research has been done on content and formal schemata in reading with students of English as a Second Language (ESL), but the research into formal schemata in ESL writing is a more recent area of study. The concept of formal schemata has been neglected in the field of second language writing. By examining related theories and empirical studies, this reflective inquiry attempts to introduce schema theory to contrastive rhetoric research, which focuses on the ESL writers problems with rhetorical form and tries to explain this in reference to their first languages. Under the theoretical framework of constructivism, this paper draws insights from schema theory, reading research, reading-writing connections, current-traditional rhetoric, and contrastive rhetoric. A model of ESL writing emphasizing the interrelationship among context, cognition, and rhetorical form and a notion of building formal schemata with ESL student writers are proposed and the theoretical and pedagogical implications are discussed. To illustrate the proposed writing mode, a sample instructional unit plan based on such a model is presented to show how the model links schema theory to contrastive rhetoric via an Asian student orientation.
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See pages: 13-41

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Category: Teaching Articles, Volume 32