Reflective Essay Assignment
How does the language(s) you speak reflect who you are?
We’ve discussed how language may reflect your personal identity, both as a tool of identity formation and as a significant component or sign of a personal identity. In this journal exercise, you should reflect on your language, language use and the role it plays in your identity.
As a preliminary step, try performing the following exercise to orient yourself to the issue of language and identity:
How would you complete the following sentence: “I think of myself as a _____.”
How would you fill in the blank? Do you think of yourself as an Iowa Hawkeye? a business admin major? an international student? a farm kid? a guitarist? a baseball fan? a foodie? an Illinoisan? You aren’t just one thing, so think of three different responses that you feel apply to you.
Describe how you identify or affiliate yourself. What groups do you identify with? Then think about your language use and try to describe particular features of your usage that are associated with those different identities. Keep your focus on how you talk rather than what you talk about. In other words, think about pronunciation, vocabulary choices, structural patterns in sentence, or other linguistic forms rather than topics of conversation. When you are trying to identify linguistic features that mark a particular identity, it is useful to think about how your language is different with the different groups you associate with. For instance, when you are with other business admin majors, what features of language would you use that you wouldn’t use when you are talking to friends who are baseball fans?
Some points that you might include in your discussion are:
· Why and/or how do these language features act as significant markers of this group identity? Do you use these features in your language all the time, or only in special circumstances?
· Have you ever adopted a certain style of speech to project a specific identity? Have you have ever altered your natural speech to conceal part of your identity? What were the circumstances? How did you change your language? Why did you change?
· Think about linguistic reflections of your interests. Are there particular words, expressions, or turns of phrase that are either unique to you or special of who you are? Since our identities evolve as we mature, you can approach this from a historical perspective, if you wish, and consider these issues from the standpoint of your identity at some point in the past.
· If you are multilingual, think about when you use your different languages. Of course, you only use a language with people who also know that language. However, think about those cases where you interact with other bilinguals. For example, if you are a Spanish-English bilingual, when you interact with other Spanish-English bilinguals, do you always speak Spanish? Or always English? Does it depend on where you are? What you are talking about? What motivates your choice of language?
In no less than one and no more than two typed, single-spaced pages, organize your observations regarding how language is manifested in and important to your personal identity. Please use margins of no more than one inch and a 12-point font.
The assignment is worth up to 10 points.
· Clearly address the prompts.
· Be sure to include specific and concrete examples of language usage or features in your discussion (e.g., distinctive pronunciation characteristics, use of vocabulary, sentence construction patterns.
· Use academic language organized into coherent, well-formed paragraphs.
· Be sure that your text conforms to the guidelines outlined above.