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Current Approaches to the Teaching of Writing

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1 Current Approaches to the Teaching of Writing
Lecture 2 Teaching Writing in EFL/ESL Joy Robbins

2 Today we’re going to do the following:
Today’s Session Today we’re going to do the following: (Very quickly) review Product and Process writing, which we talked about last week Look at an approach which is attracting lots of attention at the moment: The genre approach

3 First, a review… First, though, let’s remind ourselves of the fundamentals behind the Product and the Process Approaches that we looked at in last week’s lecture…

4 The Product Approach Work with a partner. What is the Product Approach? How do you use it? Is it popular now? What does it focus on? What else do you remember about it?

5 The Product Approach (1)
The Product Approach dominated the teaching of writing in ELT until the 1980s It involves working on writing at sentence level, filling in missing connectors (nevertheless, however), for example, or using ‘model’ texts which the students copy Normally each model text contains lots of examples of a specific type of language the teacher wants the students to focus on, e.g. the past simple The students read the model text, and do exercises which focus on the language in the model text (e.g. the past simple) Finally, the students might be asked to transform a text which is in the present simple into the past simple. The model text will help them do this

6 The Product Approach (2)
The focus is obviously on grammatical accuracy. This reflects the preoccupation of ELT methodology at the time—the Audiolingual Method was in fashion

7 The Process Approach The Process Approach overtook the Product Approach as the dominant writing methodology in the 1980s in Britain & North America Books like Tricia Hedge’s Writing (1988) and Ron White & Valerie Arndt’s Process Writing (1991) helped ensure the Process methodology became well known amongst language teachers The approach began to be critiqued in the 1990s and this criticism continues today However, the Process methodology continues to be popular

8 The Cognitivists & the Process Approach
The cognitivist Process Approach researchers (e.g. Flower & Hayes 1981; Hairston 1982; Zamel 1983) tried to find out how real writers composed in real situations The Product Approach had given students the impression that the composing process was linear. Students planned first, then wrote like this: planning writing However, the cognitivists found out that real writers didn’t write like this at all…

9 What do real writers do? ‘[Writing] is messy, recursive, convoluted, and uneven. Writers write, plan, revise, anticipate, and review throughout the writing process, moving back and forth among the different operations involved in writing without any apparent plan.’ (Hairston 1982: 85) Good writers plan throughout the writing process, changing things many times if necessary, and writing multiple drafts

10 What do real writers do? (2)
Good writers may rehearse or discuss what they want to write before they actually do it Good writers read their writing carefully, trying to imagine how clear their ideas are to a reader. If something isn’t clear, they change it The motto of the Process Approach is: Writing is rewriting

11 What do real writers do? (3)
The Process Approach emphasizes: (1) the importance of writing multiple drafts (2) The importance of revision (3) The importance of planning throughout (4) The importance of making your writing reader-friendly (5) The importance of writing in different styles for different audiences The cognitivists tried to get students to go through all of these stages when they wrote

12 Moving on… Now let’s move on, and talk about an alternative to Product and Process, the Genre Approach… Let’s start off by talking about what a ‘genre’ is…

13 What is a genre? Hyland’s (2004) excellent book on genre begins by providing a very straightforward definition: ‘Genre is a term for grouping texts together, representing how writers typically use language to respond to recurring situations’. (p.4) Hyland goes on to say: ‘Good writers are aware that what a reader finds in a text is always influenced by what he or she has found in previous texts and that what writers want to say is necessarily affected by what readers expect them to say. [Writers’] choices of grammar, vocabulary, content, and organization therefore depend on the situations in which they are writing…’. (Hyland 2004: 9)

14 What is a genre? (2) According to Swales (1990), genres are characterized by their 'communicative purposes' as well as by their patterns of 'structure, style, content and intended audience' (p.58). In the arena of English for Academic Purposes (EAP), then, genre 'refers to a class of communicative events, such as, for example, a seminar presentation, a university lecture, or an academic essay' (Paltridge 2001: 2). Make a list of genres teachers might want to focus on in (i) EAP and (ii) general English classrooms

15 Teaching writing using the genre approach
Ivanič (2004) summarizes the genre approach as follows: ‘The key point in this theoretical tradition is that texts vary linguistically according to their purpose and context. As a result, it is possible to specify linguistic features of particular text-types…. […] Good writing is not just correct writing, but writing which is linguistically appropriate to the purpose it is serving’. (pp.232-3) So teachers need to systematically analyze what the genre of writing they’re trying to teach looks like. This analysis may consist of looking at how writers typically use organization, grammar, or vocabulary when writing in the genre, as well as getting learners to understand the writers’ purposes

16 Types of genre analysis
There are a number of different types of genre analysis… Myskow & Gordon (2010), one of this week’s readings, will give you an example of how the genre approach can be used to teach writing And now we’re going to have a look at how a textbook by Devitt et al (2004) uses genre-based teaching

17 Analysing the genre of student emails
Take a look at Devitt et al’s (2004) approach to analysing a genre on the handout, then try out their ideas on the student s This will then help you decide what to concentrate on when you teach students to write s to their lecturers…

18 Genre analysis: discussion
What, in your opinion, are the strengths and weaknesses of this genre analysis approach? In your teaching context (or, if you’re not a teacher, a teaching context you’re familiar with), do you think teachers would be willing and able to take this approach? How would the students react?

19 Arguments in favour of the genre approach
Hyland (2004) lists a number of strengths of the genre approach… Genre-based teaching systematically addresses texts and contexts ‘…teaching materials are based on the ways language is actually used in particular writing contexts rather than on our general impressions of what happens. Teaching, in other words, is data-driven rather than intuition-driven’. (Hyland 2004: 12) This is in contrast to the product approach, and arguably also in contrast to some types of process-based teaching…

20 Arguments in favour of the genre approach (2)
Genre-based teaching is empowering ‘L2 learners commonly lack knowledge of the typical patterns and possibilities of variation within the texts that possess “cultural capital” in particular social groups. Genre approaches are committed to a redistribution of literary resources to help learners to gain admission to particular discourse communities’ (Hyland 2004: 14) What Hyland is saying, then, is that many non-native speakers don’t know how what a genre in English is supposed to look like— and that the genre approach will show them…

21 ‘If you don’t tell me, how can I know?’
Hyland’s argument brings to mind the title of an article about writing, ‘If you don’t tell me, how can I know?’ A case study of four international students learning to write the U.S. way (Angelova & Riazantseva 1999) One of the strengths of the genre approach, then, is that it ‘tells’ students what the genre of, for example, a master’s assignment (or a simple ) might look like…

22 Arguments in favour of the genre approach (3)
Hyland (2004) argues that because the genre approach requires teachers to systematically analyze texts for grammatical, lexical, and organizational features, this will make them better teachers: Genre-based teaching assists teacher development ‘Coming to terms with these issues makes teachers better discourse analysts, and this in turn helps make them better teachers…. A reflective teacher is therefore also a more effective teacher. A person who understands how texts are typically structured, understood, and used is in a better position to intervene successfully in the writing of his or her students, to provide more informed feedback on writing, to make reasoned decisions about the teaching practices and materials to use…’. (Hyland 2004: 16)

23 Arguments against the genre approach
The main argument sometimes levelled against the genre approach is that it is somehow ‘mechanical’ and ‘uncreative’ Hyland (2004) acknowledges that if genres are seen as ‘recipes’, then this is a danger… But within every genre there’s variation: different writers may decide, for instance, to write an assignment or a journal article in different ways, all of which are successful… So there’s no reason why genre-based teaching should become boring and repetitive…

24 Teaching activities using the genre approach
Come up with a list of teaching activities you could use when following a genre approach to teaching writing

25 Teaching activities using the genre approach: suggestions (1)
Here are some of Hyland’s (2004) ideas for genre-based writing activities…: Text tasks Naming stages and identifying their purposes Sequencing, rearranging, matching, and labelling text stages Comparing texts with omissions, changes, or different structures Identifying different and similar sample texts as particular genres

26 Teaching activities using the genre approach: suggestions (2)
Language tasks Reorganizing or rewriting scrambled or unfinished paragraphs Completing gapped sentences or an entire cloze from formatting clues Substituting a feature (e.g., tense, modality, voice, topic sentence) Using skeletal texts to predict language forms and meaning Collecting examples of a language feature, perhaps with a concordancer Working in groups to correct errors, circle particular features, match one feature with another, etc.

27 Teaching activities using the genre approach: suggestions (3)
Collaborative writing tasks Teacher-led whole-class construction on blackboard or OHP Collecting information through research and interviewing Small-group construction of texts for presentation to the whole class Completing unfinished or skeletal texts Creating a parallel text following a given model (p.135)

28 Discussion: approaches to the teaching of writing
Which of the three writing pedagogies which we’ve looked at—product, process, and genre—do you identify with the most? Why? How appropriate would these approaches be to your teaching context, or a teaching context with which you are familiar (e.g. one you were a student in)? If you were learning to write in a foreign language, would you like your teacher to use any of these approaches? Why (not)? Do you think it’s possible to combine ideas from all three of the approaches? If so, how would you do it?

29 References Angelova M & Riazantseva A (1999) ‘If you don’t tell me, how can I know?’ A case study of four international students learning to write the U.S. way. Written Communication 16(4): Devitt A et al (2004) Scenes of Writing: Strategies for Composing with Genres. New York: Pearson. Flower LS & Hayes JR (1981) A cognitive process theory of writing. College Composition & Communication 32: Hairston M (1982) The winds of change: Thomas Kuhn and the revolution in the teaching of writing. College Composition and Communication 33(1): Hedge T (1988) Writing. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hyland K (2004) Genre and Second Language Writing. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Ivanič R (2004) Discourses of writing and learning to write. Language & Education 18(3): [XD Collection] Myskow G & Gordon K (2010) A focus on purpose: using a genre approach in an EFL writing class. ELT Journal 64(3): Paltridge B (2001) Genre and the Language Learning Classroom. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Swales JM (1990) Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. White RV & Arndt V (1991) Process Writing. Harlow: Longman. Zamel V (1983) The composing processes of advanced ESL students: six case studies. TESOL Quarterly 17:

30 This week’s reading Flower L & Hayes JR (1981) A cognitive process theory of writing. College Composition & Communication 32(4): [XD8287] This is a classic article about the writing process It’s in the library’s XD Collection. Go to the issue desk and ask for XD8287. The librarian will give you the article for 4 hours, to give you time to read/photocopy it Myskow G & Gordon K (2010) A focus on purpose: using a genre approach in an EFL writing class. ELT Journal 64(3): This is a clear example of how a genre approach can be used in class Here are the readings assigned last week…If you haven’t read them all yet, do so this week! Ivanič R (2004) Discourses of writing and learning to write. Language & Education 18(3): [XD Collection: XD8663] Raimes A (1991) Out of the woods: emerging traditions in the teaching of writing. TESOL Quarterly 25(3): Tsui, A.B.M. (1996) Learning how to teach ESL writing. In D. Freeman & J.C. Richards (eds.), Teacher Learning in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp

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