A cultural term paper isn't just another boring test. It's a chance to immerse yourself in a completely different set of paradigms and situations. Of course, you will still need to meet your professor's standards – but that doesn't mean you can't have any fun along the way. Here are a few tips for writing a paper that will both make the grade and keep your (and the professor’s) interest.
1. Find out your professor's requirements. If you're in high school, the requirements are usually pretty basic: Use decent English, run your spell check, avoid funny fonts and make the paper coherent. In college, requirements for papers are sometimes more difficult. Use the style guide your professor recommends to get all of the details. If he hasn't mentioned a particular style, ask.
2. Choose a culture. As long as your class isn't focused on a particular group, you can usually choose from any that you can find enough out about. It can be anything from a prehistoric cave-painting tribe to a thriving, modern nation. Tip: Choose one that the rest of the class hasn't. This way, your paper won't have to compete against everyone else's writing styles and research levels. Bonus: Your professor will likely praise your originality when you do this.
3. Do your research. The Internet is a great place to research anything. Don't just click over to Wikipedia or your usual research spot – seek out culture-specific sites as well. If you choose an existing culture like the Chickasaw Nation, go to the Chickasaw Council website to learn about how their government works and the issues facing the Nation today. For extinct cultures like the Aztecs, don't forget your local old-fashioned library.
4. Immerse yourself in your chosen culture. This doesn't mean you have to take a full-immersion trip – it simply means to imagine yourself as one of the people living in that nation. Imagine what day-to-day life is like for them, what your opinions on local politics would be, what you'd eat, how you'd make money and all of the other relevant issues you can think of.
5. Keep things interesting. Avoid the tendency to just list raw facts in paragraph form unless your teacher has specifically requested that. Instead, describe things in a logical but interesting way. Remember that your teacher is going to read papers from every student in every class she teaches. If she teaches five classes every day, that's going to be over 100 papers she'll have to plow through and grade! Unless she’s a bit strange, she’ll be grateful to see a paper that breaks up the monotony in a good way.
6. Double-check everything. Give your paper one final run of the spell check and a cursory rereading. If you haven't been careful as you went along, reread it more carefully now to make sure you catch and fix all errors.
With these tips, you should be able to pass your essay test or term paper without problems. Remember that pizzazz and originality are the kings of the essay test – so above all, make it interesting!
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