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Volume 12 Number 1, Spring 2015, Pages 1-168   

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"I think I wanna talk about the reasons why I chose my topic": Discourse Functions of Self-mention in East Asian TESOL Graduate Student Presentations

    Alla Zareva

The purpose of the present study is to explore the notion of identity in East Asian (EA) TESOL graduate student's presentations. The research is based on a corpus of EA graduate student presentations (n = 20), focusing on their uses of the first person singular pronouns and possessive determiners I, my, and me. The analysis builds on Zareva's (2013) methodology of investigating the genre identity roles found in English native-speaking student presentations. The results revealed that the EA students gave the greatest preference to asserting their scholarly selves in their presentations by inhabiting identity roles typically associated with the written academic genres, while still revealing different sides of their personal and social selves in relation to the topic content of their presentations. However, in most cases, their attempts to do so were significantly less frequent than those of the English native-speaking students, and their linguistic choices were more repetitive. I conclude that the individualistic identity implied in the use of the first person pronoun and its determiners in oral academic discourse may be problematic for many EA students, and thus, explicit teaching of how to utilize it strategically would be one means of raising their rhetorical awareness not only as graduate students but also as rhetorically conscious TESOL instructors.

Keywords: student academic presentations, oral academic discourse, self-mention, first person pronoun use, identity, East Asian graduate students

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