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Textverständnis und Textanalyse: Sachtext "The New American Super-Family"


Answer the following questions using your own words as far as is appropriate. Quote correctly.

  1. According to John Graham “the 50-year nuclear family experiment is ending” (l.25). Examine the new trends and how each of them is exemplified in the text. (20)
  2. Outline what, according to the text, can be done to ensure that people in a multi-gen household live together harmoniously and what “unexpected benefits” (l.65) can follow. (10)
  3. Analyse four stylistic or linguistic devices that make the text appealing for the reader and that illustrate the point the writer is trying to make. (20)



Den Textauszug findest du unter diesem Link:

Hinweis: Der Textauszug in der Originalprüfung geht bis Seite 2, Abschnitt 1.



In the text, the author analyses three new trends of multi-generational households that are spreading throughout the US.

To begin with, more and more adult children in their 20s and 30s are moving back to their parents’ place, creating “a moving-back-home tsunami” (ll.12/13). In fact, one fifth of these young adults live with their parents (cf. ll 15/16). They are often forced by financial reasons to take this decision. Amanda Gentle is one of them: in the wake of the financial crisis the 35-year-old woman was dismissed from her job and had to move back home as she could not pay for her house any longer. Although she found it difficult to adapt to the new situation, Gentle was glad to have her family around in that difficult period.

A second trend that is spreading is that of parents moving in with their children. Graham thinks that in the next decade, an increasing number of elderly parents will move in with their children. But already today many parents appreciate the advantages of multi-generational living. 79-year-old Lois Bechtel, for example, lives in an attached apartment next to her daughter’s family. For her it’s comforting to have someone around in case of emergencies (cf. ll.55-57). She felt “safe and secure” (ll.54/55) being with her daughter’s family when Hurricane Irene hit the Connecticut coast.

Finally, another trend of living together is that of children who decide to stay with their parents instead of moving out. As is true for young adults moving back in with their parents, the decision to stay at home is also motivated by economic reasons: for Dan, 25 years old, living with his parents is a convenient way of saving money until he is able to afford “a decent place” (l.31).

To sum up, Graham thinks that these trends of multi-generational living are “the wave of the future” (l.44) and will replace the traditional concept of the nuclear family in the future.


Living in a multi-generational household can have various advantages, but it is essential to respect some crucial points.

First of all, it is vital to make some agreements before moving in with each other: the family members should talk about their expectations and make agreements regarding domestic tasks and financial responsibilities. It should also be discussed beforehand whether living together is a temporary or a permanent arrangement.

Apart from that, the family members should have some private space. That is to say, houses need to be adjusted in order to meet the demands of multi-generational households. Attached apartments, separate entries or multiple kitchens are some of the features mentioned in the text that help to guarantee privacy (cf. ll.57-61).

Having the family around can be comforting for both young adults (cf. ll.39/40) and elderly parents (ll.56/57). What is more, multi-generational households may also have other “unexpected benefits”. On the one hand, domestic tasks, responsibilities and childcare can be shared by different family members (cf. ll.65/66). On the other hand, living together gives people the chance to learn more about their own background, their “cultural history” (l.67).

All in all, it is important to create favourable, harmonious conditions in order to profit from the benefits of multi-generational living.


The author uses different stylistic and linguistic devices that make his text appealing for the reader and help to get his message across. Doug Donaldson wants to convince the reader that multi-generational living is the natural form of human coexistence and will replace the traditional concept of the nuclear family in the years to come.

Donaldson frequently refers to and quotes John Graham, co-author of the book “Together Again: A Creative Guide to Multigenerational Living” (cf. ll. 22-25, ll.44-48, ll.68-70). These quotes emphasize his own positive attitude towards multi-gen living and help to support his views.
Likewise, he refers to official data, statistics and sources, such as the U.S Census Bureau (cf. ll.19/20) or the “2010 Coldwell Banker trend survey” (ll.58/59) to back up his claim that multi-gen households are on the increase.
What is more, quoting people with first-hand experience (such as Amanda Gentle in ll.8-10, 39-42, Dan in ll. 30-32 and Lois Bechtel in ll.55-57) makes his text lively and authentic: the reader can easily identify with these people.

The use of the personal pronouns “we” and “you” (cf. ll.63/64) creates a confidential atmosphere. The direct form of address immediately involves the reader. This effect is also reached by the use of simple and informal language (e.g. “super” in the title and “well” in line 21). At the same time, using elements of formal language, such as the inversion in line 64 (“not only is the answer an emphatic yes”) or the verb “yield” in the following line, makes the text interesting and appealing for a broader audience.

Another means to make his article both appealing and convincing is the use of metaphorical language. He uses the metaphor “moving-back-home tsunami” (ll.12/13) to emphasize the huge number of people following the trend of moving back home. The metaphor “the financial dominoes fell in 2008” refers to the events that forced many people to move back home due to financial pressure.
The verb “to roost” in the metaphorical expression “[...] coming home to roost” (l.17) implies warmth and cosiness and emphasizes the comfort of the family home. Moving back home is thus presented as comforting and natural.

In order to get his message across, the author also makes use of syntactic means: he uses short sentences that are easily remembered, e.g. in line 2 (“You can go home again.”), line 11 (“Gentle is not alone.”) and line 26 (“Not everyone is moving back home. Some never left.”). Likewise, he puts special emphasis on sentences and their message by using marked sentence constructions (e.g. l.17 “But it’s not just the young who ...” and ll.24/25 “What’s happening right now is that ...”).

The question asked in line 63 (“So, if we’re all going to share, will we be able to get along?”) seems to be a rather rhetorical one, given that the answer is “an emphatic yes” (l.64): Donaldson is convinced of the success of multi-generational living, a fact that is underlined once more by the quote at the end of the article (ll.68-70).

To sum up, the stylistic and linguistic devices used clearly emphasize Donaldson’s positive attitude towards multi-generational living and make the text appealing for the reader.

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