L2 writing: Norms, expectations, or free agency
It was in my ESL writing class a few years ago when I was introduced to the concept of contrastive rhetoric. I remember looking at the strange pattern that was supposed to represent “the Russian rhetorical writing style” and thinking “No way! I don't write like this, and there is no way all Russians write according to this one pattern.” I felt like my writing creativity, and even my free agency to a certain extent, was taken away. I was not sure whether I was supposed to adhere to the prescribed “Russian writing pattern” and thus conform to my Russian-ness, or go ahead with my own writing styles and techniques and “break the norms.” Although I was just a student in an intensive English program back then, I intuitively felt that teachers need to look at students as individuals with unique traits and ability to act independently, instead of placing on them a mass-produced vision of the actions and behavior that they are “supposed to demonstrate” because of their association with certain culture or ethnic group.
Shvidko, E. (2014). L2 writing: Norms, expectations, or free agency. TESOL Journal, 5(4), 786-788