Teaching English As A Second / Foreign Language Essay
Kaplan’s Traditional Contrastive Rhetoric
Before 1960s, influenced strongly by structural linguistic and behavioral psychology, the teaching of English as a second/foreign language was mainly focused on spoken English, mostly “through pattern drills of the sentence structure and the sound system”. Writing was merely considered as a “secondary representation” of language, and was often overlooked by linguistics and language teachers. Urged by the professionalization of TESL, ESL writing instruction in the 1960s, ESL specialists started trying to establish a theoretically grounded approach to teach English writing to ESL students (Silva & Matsuda, 2001, p. xiv). However, the theoretical basis of English writing instruction was still dominated by structural linguistics and behavioral psychology. Pincas’ controlled composition is a classic attempt to optimize ESL students’ English composition by developing desirable language habits. She suggested to prepare students for English writing by accustoming them to correct sentence patterns through organized systematic imitation of models (Pancas, 1962). Unfortunately, this proposal was soon found insufficient to help ESLs develop coherent essays. Linguists started to feel that traditional morphological and syntactic tools were not enough to explain texts, and new discourse devices need to be developed.
In 1966, the applied linguist Robert Kaplan published his famous Cultural Thought Pattern…