The discourses we use
Essay 1: The Discourses That We Use
In “Mother Tongue,” Amy Tan writes:
“I spend a great deal of my time thinking about the power of language — the way it can evoke an emotion, a visual image, a complex idea, or a simple truth. Language is the tool of my trade. And I use them all — all the Englishes I grew up with” (1).
Consider Tan’s use of the word “Englishes.” How would you categorize the “Englishes” that you use in your everyday life? How do you speak and write in different contexts? The different ways that you communicate in one of those situations can be described as discourse.
In this essay, you will define and explain one discourse that you use in your everyday life. It could be the way that you communicate with your home community, your neighborhood, your best friend or a group of friends, your parents, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, the way you text, write emails, etc. It could also be the way that you communicate in more formal situations, such as at work or at school. In the introduction of your essay, explain the group that uses this discourse. Then, give specific examples of the kinds of communication (including language and phrasing choices) you are using when relying on this discourse.
To begin writing this essay, you should write a first draft that explains one discourse that you use in your everyday life. Keep in mind that Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” can be considered a “model essay” for this writing assignment (I have also provided an example from a student). After you have developed your ideas, you should consider what organizational structure will work best for your essay. Will you discuss Amy Tan and then your own discourse? Will you discuss your discourse and then connect it to Amy Tan? It’s up to you, but you must declare the discourse you use (thesis statement), give examples, and tie your discourse to something Tan said or did in her essay.
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