Author Archives: Nadine Lavi

1101: Unit 1

Literacy Narrative Assignment – Nadine Lavi

Essay #1 Literacy Narrative

For Unit 1, we will read several literacy narratives. “Mother Tongue,” by Amy Tan focuses on the various “Englishes” that the author, a Chinese-American writer who had trouble fitting in until she found her own, unique “voice” as a writer in English, and her mother, an elderly Chinese native whose English was less than perfect, but who nevertheless, managed to make herself be understood and taken seriously by others. The author gives various anecdotes about how the different Englishes she grew up hearing, at home and at school, conflate with the Englishes her mother uses, and the times when they, or are not effective.

We will also read Donald Murray’s “All Writing is Autobiography,” about the “voices” that he uses when he writes about himself, and how they correspond to different parts of his identity.

In this unit’s writing assignment,  you will write an essay in response to the statement,  “My voice is that of a __________.” (Fill in the blank – with a noun that describes your identity or the identity that you are trying to establish and the voice(s) that you use to affirm that identity) (For example, some of the words that you might use to describe yourself might be: survivor, martyr, kid, seer, cynic, wizard, multi-cultural, multi-gendered, player, stand up guy, lady, bitch, boss, ceo, activist, sibling, parent, student, etc.).

Think about the role that language plays in terms of your identity and your voice. The purpose of this is to connect your participation in this class to the rest of your experiences with writing in your life. As a result, each of you will bring something of yourselves to this assignment and to the class as a whole, and you will leave the course with a greater comprehension of what the usefulness of this class and how to take the steps and practices we will use and transfer them into other writing situations and settings.

In preparation for this assignment, you should read the two examples of literacy narratives: Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue,” and Donald Murray’s “All Writing is Autobiography,” and a third literacy narrative. Use them as models for your essay.

Think about the following and include them when you write:

  • Your culture’s approach to reading and writing
  • Your family’s “English” and how it is similar to or different from the English you learned in school
  • Your thoughts about your earliest experiences with English (reading, writing, school, etc.)
  • Any story or book that you liked which may have shaped you
  • Your unique voice and how that reflects your strengths, weaknesses, path, and goals in life

Your essay will be approximately 3-4 pages long, with your title, indented paragraphs, double spaced, Arial or Calibri 11 point font, with 1 inch margins all around.

Take some time to jot down notes and any words that come to mind (word associations) about your early recollections of English and how that intersected with your voice. Use the first person, “I.’ Bring in two printed copies for our peer review class, and turn in a final draft electronically and a bring an extra hard copy to class to hand in to me.

Email me if you have any questions.