Oral and written language of ethnically and culturally diverse college students

Amelia Teresa Rose, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to describe, investigate, and analyze the linguistic variation present in a group of speech and writing samples collected from students at the State University of New York at New Paltz. Participants consisted of 12 students enrolled in a freshman English class who had achieved a passing grade on the SUNY Written Assessment Test with a rating of 4 or higher. Methodology used to collect data consisted of examination of interviews with the participants, analysis of written essays, and analysis of transcriptions of group discussions. The findings in this study indicate that: (1) Strengths and weaknesses were found in both the oral and written language of the college students' data collected in this study. Language acquisition exemplified in the participants' writing showed the strengths to be in their ability to use language that is most often associated with appropriate, college-level writing. Yet since the writing process involves different correlations from those of speech, the participants encountered a code-consciousness that prevented them from doing what they were able to do in the more spontaneous situation of discourse and collaboration. (2) The strength of these participants' orality was attributed to the ability of each participant to speak without reservation, and with the use of narration and colloquialisms that are part of their vernacular. Further, the longer length of the oral component as compared to their essay writing indicates that the participants were more fluid in their speech than in the written texts. (3) The interview results indicated that while the participants were comfortable when speaking, the writing process continued to be less fluid and more troubled for the participants than did speaking in groups. While ethnically and culturally diverse college students felt that storytelling and narration were their greatest strengths, the infrequent use of these rhetorical devices in their writing showed that narration has not been processed into the writing component of their expository language. Written and oral language as an expression of cultural identity are significant factors in understanding the ways that learners accomplish academic achievements and create written texts.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Communication

Recommended Citation

Rose, Amelia Teresa, "Oral and written language of ethnically and culturally diverse college students" (2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3021711.