The famous philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” What did he mean by this statement?
As you learned in this unit’s readings and discussion, language awareness is central to successfully navigating life. When we are locked into one pattern of speaking, writing, thinking, we limit the boundaries of our existence. Experienced writers know that they belong to many language communities and know how to switch between varieties of language to address specific audiences, subjects, genres, and/or social contexts.
To complete this unit’s major writing assignment, write an essay in which you introduce your classmates to a community you belong to. In your essay, describe your observations about the community’s values, habits of mind, and language practices. Include discussions of the language habits used by members of the community, and consider discussing how this community has shaped your own identity. In your essay, assume that your readers are your classmates. Your major source of information should be your own observations and recollections of your community, and your goal should be to introduce your classmates to your community.
It will be up to you to determine what particular focus your essay will take and what message you wish to convey to your classmates. You may use one of the prompts below, or expand on your notes from your Writer’s Journal assignment or your contributions to this unit’s discussion.
How has this community shaped your sense of identity? How is your sense of self tied in with the community you belong to? How do you navigate between different communities — for instance, how do you move between your job community and your family community at home?
What are some common misunderstandings of your community? Why or how is your community so misunderstood? Describe your community — its membership, practices, and values — in order to “set the record straight” and clear up misconceptions and stereotypes.
Given your experiences so far, what do you know about the community of college students? Is college one big community, or a collection of multiple, smaller ones? Compare and contrast two of the disciplines from which you are taking courses this year (for example, a history class and your biology class). How are those disciplines similar in their expectations of students? How are they different? What does this mean in terms of the values of the disciplines?
Through observation and interaction, learn about a community that is brand-new to you. This could be a community formed around ethnicity, hobby/interest, religion, college major/minor, lifestyle, etc. Like a reporter, write an essay that describes, in detail, that new community. Then, reflect on what the experience means to you, what it taught you, perhaps, about keeping an open- mind in the face of difference.
Your essay should be between 750 and 1,250 words and should be centered a particular message or focus. Your essay should make significant use of description, examples, and explanation to illustrate your focus, and should illustrate some of the connections among language, community, and identity. Your essay should show signs of revision, editing, and proofreading. Assume that your readers are your classmates: educated, interested in your community, and are hoping to learn from you.
Remember that you may use any of the material from this unit’s discussion or your Writer’s Journal as a starting point for this assignment.
When you submit this assignment, include a brief cover letter (no more than 300 words) that answers the following questions:
What is your purpose in this assignment? What is it you are trying to do or say in this piece of writing?
What are you proud of about this assignment?
What challenges did you face while completing this assignment?
What sorts of feedback do you want from your instructor on this assignment?
Include your cover letter as a comment on your upload — not as a separate document. Your cover letter will not count for or against your grade, but will help your instructor respond to your writing.
Length, Design, & Formatting
Your assignment should be between 750 and 1,250 words, not including title or Works Cited page. More important than length is quality. Make sure to fully develop your essay, by including examples, explanations, and descriptions of your language community.
Use MLA guidelines for document design. This includes using 1-inch margins, double-spaced type, a page number in the upper right corner, and a Works Cited page. Both Easy Writer and A Reader’s Guide to College Writing include detailed descriptions of how to design documents according to MLA guidelines.
Give your work a unique title — not “Language Community.”
To allow your instructor the ability to post marginal commentary, you must submit this assignment as a .doc, .docx, or .pdf file. You can save files in these formats with most word processors, including Web-based programs like Google Docs, Word Online, and Open Office. If you are using a web-based file storage system like Google Drive
(Links to an external site.)
or Dropbox, be sure to learn exactly how to transfer files from your storage system to Canvas.
A Note About Sources
Your major source for this assignment will be your own experiences. However, you may also decide to use your assigned readings or mini-lectures from class as sources, and you might decide to incorporate research from outside this course. When referring to any source in the main text of your analysis, use MLA guidelines for in-text citations. This includes placing any quoted material in quotation marks, clearly indicating the author of the work, and providing a page number for the quotation, if applicable.
Include a Works Cited page with an entry for each source that you referred to in the main text. Use MLA guidelines to create your Works Cited page. For examples and discussion of how to work with sources in writing, see the Easy Writer chapters on “Integrating Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism” and “MLA Style.” You will practice creating both in-text and end-of-text citations in this unit’s discussion.
INSTRUCTOR RESPONSE & GRADING: You can expect your instructor to provide substantive response and feedback to your assignment within 6 days of the deadline. Please review all instructor feedback, including marginal commentary, which you can access by clicking “View Feedback” once your assignment has been graded. Use your instructor’s feedback to as a guide to revision and improvement for your future writing assignments.
Your assignment will be graded using a rubric derived from the rubric used to grade your final portfolio. Please note that the rubric for this assignment places importance on insight, focus, analysis, and development.
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