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Language Perspective Essay Guidelines

Page history last edited by Georgie Ziff 2 years, 10 months ago

Here is a helpful Essay Outline. 



  • The essay submission policy is strictly enforced: NO late essays accepted, and ALL essays must be submitted to continue in the course or receive course credit. NO exceptions. If the essay is not submitted by the deadline, you will become ineligible to continue in the course. This is NOT open to negotiation.


 Referencing the readings in Chapter 6, and using TWO articles as in-text references, your task is to write an essay between 4 -5 pages.  

  • You are required to show your abilities to summarize and integrate multiple essays with the purpose of connecting the major points of the essays to your own experiences with language. In this chapter, we read six essays by authors who discover the power of language in one form or another.


For example, Malcolm X describes, in his essay “Homemade Education,” how his lack of understanding of many words found in books made him feel frustrated and how learning them empowered him by opening a new world for him.


In her essay “Spanish Lessons,” Marin discusses how she came to find many of her voices, both Spanish and English, how they “contributed to the formation of self and identity,” and how she learned the different power of both languages.


You will:

  • Introduce, integrate and summarize the main ideas of at least two articles among the six in Chapter 6 to which you can best relate (no outside sources are to be used).
  • DO NOT just have entire chunks of the essay as summary; it must integrated with your own experience.
  • Compare them with your own language experience, integrating references to the articles/authors INTO your ideas and thoughts using paraphrasing and quoting; be sure to correctly cite ALL references to the articles/authors using MLA in-text citations.
  • DO NOT use large, block quotes; use short or even partial quotes or paraphrasing instead.
  • What are the similarities and differences between their experiences and yours?


In order to complete the assignment successfully, you must summarize your chosen essays precisely and make clear connections between the authors’ experiences and your own, providing sufficient, relevant details. 


The essay should have the following basic components - here is a general idea of how to organize the Language Perspective Essay:

1. A title that informs the reader and provides a hint of your thesis.

2. Intro paragraph: 

  • Engaging hook without announcing the intention ("In this essay I will...").
  • Introduce the name of first author, "title of article" smoothly with a brief one sentence summary of the article.
  • Name of second author, "title of article" with a brief one sentence summary of the article.
  • Your language experience.
  • Thesis statement that provides the SINGLE CONTROLLING IDEA of the paper about your experience and those of the authors.

3. Each PIE body paragraph: (as many as necessary to cover your ideas: more ideas = more paragraphs).

  • Topic sentence = your idea/experience
  • Supporting evidence (quotes/paraphrasing) with correct in-text citations
  • Discussion/analysis of the author and your experience (as many sentences as necessary)
  • Transition statement to the NEXT paragraph (make sure there is flow!)

4. Conclusion:

  • Wraps up the essay; revisits the thesis without repeating it.
  • Does not introduce new ideas.

5. Works Cited List - You must correctly cite all paraphrasing/summary/quoting both in the body of the paper (in-text), and include a correctly formatted MLA Works Cited List; any papers submitted without a WCL will receive an automatic 0.



Here is a link to a page about MLA formatting and citation.

Perspectives on Language Writer's Checklist - download this document to use as a reference before turning in the final draft.



Perspectives on Language Peer Review Guidelines - download this document and respond to your classmates when participating in the peer reviews.




Language Perspective Essay articles:

  1. "Homemade Education" - Malcolm X. - video
  2. "A Word for Everything" - Helen Keller - video
  3. "Coming Into Language" - Jimmy Santiago Baca - speaking and reading some of his poems.
    •  What does language do for Baca?
    • In paragraph 18, Baca says, “In prison, the abscess had been lanced.”  What is he referring to?
    • How does Baca feel about education at the beginning of the story?  Does this change?
    • What does Baca mean when he says, “My words did not come from books or textual formulas, but from a deep faith in the voice of my heart?” 
    • When Baca says, “The word was my ember and the forest was my life.” What does he mean?
    • Would the first paragraph be as effective if Baca had told us his age at the beginning of the paragraph instead of at the end?  Why do you think he did that?
    • In your opinion, what does the last paragraph mean?
  4. "Living with Dyslexia" - Gareth Cook
  5. "Spanish Lessons"- Christine Marin
  6. "The Language of Silence" - Maxine Hong Kingston - video


Additional optional reading: "Are We Different People in Different Languages?"  - from Literary Hub


Formatting Your Essays in MLA Style:

The formatting should be a 12 point legible font - Arial preferred. 

Indent five spaces for each new paragraph, but do not put extra spaces between paragraphs. 


Double-space the header area: your name, etc. in the upper left corner of only the first page (don't put your name on every page):


Your Name       


English 1A       


Instructor Ziff




Language Perspective Essay

The Informative TITLE Goes in the Center of the Page


 Capitalized Correctly, with the Same Size Font and


neither Bold nor Underlined.


Grading Scale:

90 - 100 = A

80 - 89 = B

70 - 79 = C

60 - 69 = D

Lower than 60 = F



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