Author Topic: Developing genre awareness in the EFL classroom  (Read 843 times)

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Offline Tatiana Kashina

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Developing genre awareness in the EFL classroom
« on: February 29, 2020, 10:14:49 PM »
In her article, Millar (2011) examines genre awareness activities used in EFL contexts to develop writing skills adopted from a genre-based pedagogy. She provides several definitions of what a genre is and adheres to the one which defines genres as “socio-cognitive schemas” (Johns, 2008, as cited in Miller, 2011, p. 4). In other words, a genre embodies a set of communicative events / utterances (texts) that share a communicative purpose. These utterances appear to exhibit similar discourse structures and lexico-grammatical patterns to accomplish the communicative purpose. Another distinctive characteristic of genres is that genres vary contingent upon the specific context and the particular community of practice. This brings us to the questions what EFL teachers should teach with respect to genre awareness. Johns (2008), for example, indicates that teaching genres to students outside the particular context tends to be meaningless, since genres often change and context-specific (as cited in Miller, 2011, p. 6). In contrast, Hyland (2003) argues for explicit teaching of genres to students to convey genre features and variations (as cited in Millar, 2011, p. 6). Students can get exposed to a group of general macro-genres such as “narrative, recount, argument, report, and description” (Hyland, 2003, ac cited in Millar, 2011, p. 6) and incrementally develop genre awareness based on the analysis of authentic texts and noticing how language is utilized in particular contexts.  Thus, Paltridge (2001) offers activities aiming at developing genre awareness on three levels: 1) Genre and Context, 2) Genre and Discourse and 3) Genre and Language (as cited in Millar, 2011, p. 7).
Genre and Context activities include looking into how the formality of the language changes based on the audience; examining samples of authentic texts and determining the purpose of writing; brainstorming genres used in different professions; discussing which genres are appropriate to use in a certain context, etc. Millar (2011), for example, describes the Text / Audience / Purpose activity (see the description in the article, pp. 7-8).
Genre and Discourse activities focus on the structure of texts of various genres. Students could compare/contrast texts of the same genre to identify textual/structural commonalities; delve into texts of various discourse patterns and examine whether the pattern is effective and what could be improved, etc. In this article, Millar (2011) outlines the Problem/Solution activity (see the description in the article, p. 8).
Genre and Language activities target lexico-grammatical patterns used in different genres to accomplish the particular communicative purpose. For example, students could transform the spoken text of a certain genre into a written text or convert an informal text into a formal text for a new audience. For instance, Millar (2011) proposes the Spoken vs. Written Language activity (p. 9).

Millar, D. (2011). Promoting Genre Awareness in the EFL Classroom. English Teaching Forum, (2), 2-15. Retrieved February 15, 2020, from