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    • #8365
      Nicholas Northall
      Moderator
          @nick-northall

          Think about all the tasks you have done in this unit and re-consider the reflection questions from Topics 1 and Topic 4

          • Thinking about your own teaching, what genres do you teach? 
          • What knowledge do your learners need to be able to identify a specific genre?
          • How do you teach your learners this?
          • How useful is ‘genre analysis’? Do you/could you do this with your students? Why/Why not? 

          Please share your ideas in the forum. 

          Try to make a comment or ask one of your coursemates a question.

        • #53074
          Robert Dailey
          Participant
              @robertd

              Thinking about your own teaching, what genres do you teach? 

              As I teach professionals in-company, the genres I teach are normally connected with work. It’s important in many cases for my students to be able to write and understand emails and reports, for example.

              What knowledge do your learners need to be able to identify a specific genre?
              They need to know how the text is constructed and what the key features of it are. In his A-Z Thornbury uses the terms macro and micro, with macro being overall organisation and micro being specific grammatical and lexical features. This makes me think of the bottom-up and top-down processing we looked at in the unit on reading.

              How do you teach your learners this?
              In terms of language production, I perceive a connection here with the product and process approaches to writing. Personally, I favour a process approach: to get my students brainstorming then drafting and re-drafting a text, but it’s also very useful for them to see examples which they can then perhaps analyse and compare against their own creations. For genre analysis the students probably need to have models.

              In About Language, Thornbury uses a lot of texts for teaching purposes and I think this materials-light approach is very useful and instructive for teaching reading and writing in connection with genre analysis (as well as in general).

              How useful is ‘genre analysis’? Do you/could you do this with your students? Why/Why not?
              Genre analysis can be very useful. As mentioned above, I do do this sometimes with my students and this is because to communicate well – and appropriately – students need to know about the “rules” that go with their communication. In one of my classes we had a discussion recently about the use of contractions in informal emails and because my students are sending emails to clients in the States and elsewhere it’s very important that the “feel” of the email is about right. As Thornbury says in A-Z, genre knowledge provides ´entry´ into a culture. (I find this really interesting. I can imagine that in London´s East End in the sixties undercover policeman/women who tried to pass themselves off as villains without knowing cockney rhyming slang would have had a difficult time. :))  I imagine that language must play a very significant role in the sociological theory about in-groups and out-groups.

              Finally, and thinking again of bottom-up and top-down approaches to reading, I can see that having knowledge of genre analysis can help students to navigate around a text.

              • #53345
                Nicholas Northall
                Moderator
                    @nick-northall

                    Hi Robert,

                    Thanks for sharing your ideas here.

                    You make a good point that genres should, like other aspects of our teaching, address our learners’ needs. As you mention, you can do this by addressing both the overall organisation of a text (or piece of speech) and the grammatical and lexical features. As language teachers, we instinctively focus only on the latter, so it’s a good idea to try to remind ourselves that ‘macro’ features are also important.

                    I agree with you point about using a range of models as this can certainly help learners to understand how texts (again, I mean both written and spoken here) are constructed. I also find this helps myself: for example if I want to write a letter of complaint, being familiar with ways of structuring such a letter is essential. It’s strange how Thornbury in ‘About Language’ uses a lot of texts yet a few years later insisted we all embrace the ‘‘Dogme’’ approach. I must admit, I’m not sure how Dogme can be used when focusing on genre, unless the teacher is prepared to create a text ad hoc on the whiteboard.

                    I think genre analysis is very important – obviously depending on our learners’ needs. You make an interesting comparison with Police in ‘60s London not ‘fitting’ in. I think learners who construct texts following the correct ‘macro’ rules may find their texts  have more of an impact that learners  constructing grammatically and lexically complex texts yet getting the ‘macro’ elements wrong??

                    Cheers,

                    Nick

                • #53078
                  Robert Dailey
                  Participant
                      @robertd

                      Hi Nick, Manuel,

                      In the final unit on genre the essential reading task is units 29 and 30 of About Language. In my copy of the book (2013) there are only 28 units. Can I ask if there is possibly a newer version of the book with 2 additional units or is reference to units 29 and 30 perhaps a mistake? Thanks a lot!

                      • #53340
                        Nicholas Northall
                        Moderator
                            @nick-northall

                            Hi Robert,

                            You may have the first edition. The latest edition has 30 units.  There are some other differences, but it might not be worth buying the new edition just for a couple of pages.

                            Cheers,

                            Nick

                        • #53108
                          Erica
                          Participant
                              @erica

                              Thinking about your own teaching, what genres do you teach? 

                              I teach genres that are related to daily life, such as public notes/signs, emails/letters, and other genre that are relevant to ESOL qualifications, for example newspaper articles, postcards, etc.

                              What knowledge do your learners need to be able to identify a specific genre?

                              They need to recognise different layouts, heading, subheadings, pictures, etc.. The organisation of the text, its purpose (inform, persuade, etc.) and the content (recipes = food; advertisement= sell a product, prise, etc.). Being able to identify common grammatical and lexical features is also desirable. For example, recipes and instructions use the imperative form. Persuasive texts like advertisements use superlative adjectives and complex sentences (first conditional, etc.) to offer advice/ solution to problems.

                              How do you teach your learners this?

                              Last year I taught L1 ESOL (upper intermediate) students and teaching genre was particularly useful to prepare them for both the reading and the writing exam.

                              In order to pass the reading exam students need to be able to recognise and identify the genre, the layout features, the purpose, and the main topic of three different texts – as well as answering other comprehension questions. I started off with the layout and I asked the student not to read the text (content) but decide what the type of text based on what they saw and support their answers by describing or naming the layout features-a lot can be said by just looking at a text. Then we moved to content to confirm our original ideas and to link each type of text with its function. We also focused on grammatical and lexical features but not too extensively.

                              On the other hand, during the preparation for the writing exam I taught the students more about grammar, lexis, and register. The exam required the students to write two different texts that are randomly chosen among the following: a formal / informal letter, a review and/or an article. In class we analysed all those types one at a time and the emphasis was always on layout, content organisation, register and what grammar and lexis to use. I also provided the students with different example of the same genre, e.g. a review, a letter of application, to help them understand whether the “conventional structure” can be “personalised” or not. For example, the organisation of a letter of application is quite strict whereas a review can arguably be structured in different ways – provided that the whole text is coherent and the paragraphs logically organised.

                              How useful is ‘genre analysis’? Do you/could you do this with your students? Why/Why not?

                              Genre analysis is very useful and I agree with Robert when he stated that knowing about different genres benefits reading as well.

                              • #53347
                                Nicholas Northall
                                Moderator
                                    @nick-northall

                                    Hi Erica,

                                    Thanks for sharing your ideas here.

                                    Genre is certainly related to almost everything! The things you mention all have their own specific genre, which in some senses are rules that should be followed to create effective texts (written or spoken).

                                    A key acronym to remember when analysing the genre of a text is COLLS: Content, Organisation, Layout, Lexis and Grammar and Style.This is also important when approaching Task 5a on Paper 1.

                                    I agree that being about to identify the text type can be very useful as texts tend to follow certain conventions. Once the reader (implicitly or explicitly) understands the type of text, they are more likely to be able to understand it. This thorough overview describes eight different text types – please don’t feel you need to rote learn the different text types!

                                    And as you mention, the language used is also important. It’s when these conventions (or rules!) are broken that texts can cause confusion and perhaps not have the effect the author intended!

                                    Cheers,

                                    Nick

                                • #53341
                                  Aytaj Suleymanova
                                  Participant
                                      @aytajs93

                                      Hello everyone!

                                      My responses:

                                      Thinking about your own teaching, what genres do you teach? 

                                      As a primary teacher we do a lot of story writing. With my adult learners it is mainly academic essays.

                                      What knowledge do your learners need to be able to identify a specific genre?

                                      To identify a narrative the students explore such concepts as setting, characters, dialogue, problem, solution.

                                      How do you teach your learners this?

                                      I try to use models of writing that we focus on in order to teach my students how to produce similar texts.

                                      How useful is ‘genre analysis’? Do you/could you do this with your students? Why/Why not?

                                      It is something that deepens the students’ understanding of language so it is quite useful to analyze a text with them.

                                       

                                      • #53348
                                        Nicholas Northall
                                        Moderator
                                            @nick-northall

                                            Hi Aytaj,

                                            Thanks for sharing here. It’s clear that the genres we teach very much depend on our learners’ needs: although I’m sure your adult learners would enjoy writing stories! At least as an exercise in genre comparison!

                                            You also use models (like Robert) to draw your learners’ attention to aspects of the texts you are working with. I certainly agree that genre analysis can depend our learners’ understanding not only of organisation and layout but also the language used.

                                            Cheers,

                                            Nick

                                        • #53349
                                          Nicholas Northall
                                          Moderator
                                              @nick-northall

                                              Dear All,

                                              Thanks to those who have contributed to this forum. Here is a summary of your comments, plus some extra things to think about:

                                              • The different genres we teach depend on our learners’ needs and wants and the learning and teaching context.
                                              • It is important to focus on non-linguistic features (e.g. layout, structure, organisation, purpose, tone) in order to identify a specific genre. All of these features are necessary before thinking about language!
                                              • Our learners also need to understand world knowledge, e.g. what makes an advert different from a warning sign.
                                              • Structure tasks to ensure that learners understand what is required of them. It is a good idea to dedicate ample class time to this.
                                              • Using models, which are then analysed, can help learners produce their own writing. A mixture of product and process writing approaches can be successful. A lot of this depends on our learners’ levels and abilities.
                                              • Teaching genre is not standalone, but can be situated in a wider lesson; understanding the genre of a text can aid the development of other skills.
                                              • Understanding different genres might not only be about being able to write a genre specific text, but also understand different types of texts, e.g. understanding how a funny magazine article is different to a more serious news report. This use of genre here will help them to understand the texts even if they do not understand all the content.
                                              • Understanding genre can help learners find where information they need is in a reading or listening text. This can be important in exams such as IELTS when understanding the differences between say a chronological recount and a persuasive polemic may allow them to find the answers they need more effectively.
                                              • Genre analysis is seen as being very important. Learners may be able to produce mainly error-free work but if the work doesn’t conform to the non-linguistic features of the specific genre, then it will not have an appropriate effect.

                                              Thanks again to Robert, Erica and Aytaj for their thoughtful posts. If you haven’t already contributed, please do so.

                                              Cheers,

                                              Nick

                                            • #53444
                                              Peter Wilson
                                              Participant
                                                  @peterw

                                                  Thinking about your own teaching, what genres do you teach? 

                                                  So in functional skills English we teach learners to write specific genres which are: formal and informal emails, reports, reviews, leaflets

                                                  What knowledge do your learners need to be able to identify a specific genre?

                                                  They have to have a good knowledge of the layout and language features of each type of text so we do a lot of work on these e.g. bullet points, headlines, phone number and persuasive techniques (repetition, alliteration, questions, emotive language)

                                                  How do you teach your learners this?

                                                  Learners are trained to identify language and layout features when preparing for the reading exam so they analyse and discuss a range of types of text thinking about it’s purpose and looking closely at the features picking out examples. They also have to learn about structure when writing the texts e.g. paragraphs for emails and articles and then be told what kind of lexis and grammar to use for each section e.g. conditionals at the end of an email to promise or demand.

                                                  How useful is ‘genre analysis’? Do you/could you do this with your students? Why/Why not? 

                                                  I think it’s really useful as it gets learners to use a wide range of different grammar and lexis in a variety of contexts which should improve the overall language proficiency and confidence.

                                                  • #53515
                                                    Nicholas Northall
                                                    Moderator
                                                        @nick-northall

                                                        Hi Peter,

                                                        Thanks for sharing. Often when we think about teaching genre, we think about it as part of a writing lesson (i.e. learners have to produce a text); however, it is also really important for learners to be able to recognise different types of genres – as you mention to be successful in a reading exam – and how layout, organisation and typical lexis are important here.

                                                        Cheers,

                                                        Nick

                                                    • #53498
                                                      Andrew Burke
                                                      Participant
                                                          @andrew

                                                          Thinking about your own teaching, what genres do you teach? 

                                                          informal emails / stories / formal letters and emails

                                                          What knowledge do your learners need to be able to identify a specific genre?

                                                          For emails and letters students need to know the salutations / tone and appropriacy / register

                                                          How do you teach your learners this?

                                                          I use an example text and get students to focus on / highlight the specific features. I leave gaps where students have to fill in the appropriate word or phrase. I show a formal and informal email / letter and get students to compare and contrast. I use the knowledge students already have and elicit the correct language / I get students to compare the text with texts in their own language / culture, highlighting similarities and differences.

                                                          How useful is ‘genre analysis’? Do you/could you do this with your students? Why/Why not? 

                                                          It was very useful when I taught ESOL as you were helping students deal with the practicalities of living in the UK. It’s also useful when students have to do exams and are expected to understand and reproduce features of genre. I tend to use it in emails and letters as the genre is so specific.

                                                          • #53516
                                                            Nicholas Northall
                                                            Moderator
                                                                @nick-northall

                                                                Hi Andrew,

                                                                I like your idea about comparing typical examples of genres with texts in the learners’ own first language/culture. Do you find that there are many differences? What are these?

                                                                Cheers,

                                                                Nick

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