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Kaplan’s contrastive rhetoric explains the type of negative transfer which affects a person's writing skills in another language. When teaching English writing, it is helpful to understand how first language and culture affect the way learners put their ideas on paper. This, in turn, can help the teacher direct students to write concisely and to the point the way an English native speaker would. 


English (Germanic): direct, linear, doesn't go off topic

Arabic (Semitic): coordinated series of opposing yet parallel ideas

Japanese (Oriental): indirect, works around the topic

Spanish (Romance): digressive, enriched with extra ideas

Russian (Slavic): digressive, includes parallel ideas  

Speakers of Romance languages such as Spanish and Portuguese have a natural tendency to express themselves in long, multi-clausal sentences, which a native speaker of English may find complicated. The written discourse of Asian students, on the other hand, resembles walking in circles. It is because candid expression of opinion, especially when different from others, denotes losing one’s face. In the Orient, it needs to be avoided for the sake of politeness.

Teachers who understand the principles of contrastive rhetoric can help students reorganize their English writing. This is not only important but frequently critical to the students' academic success.  

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