Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Adopting Genre Approach on Iranian Efl Students' Performance on Ielts Task One Writing

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Adopting Genre Approach on Iranian Efl Students' Performance on Ielts Task One Writing

Article excerpt

Introduction

It is generally agreed that writing is the most difficult skill to master for foreign or second language learners (Chaisiri, 2010). In addition, as Chaisiri noted providing writing instruction in L2 contexts particularly to those English as a foreign language (EFL) learners who are rarely exposed to English is considered difficult. A number of theories and approaches that intend to assist English language learners to develop their writing skills have been proposed, and implemented at different times. Among these approaches, product and process approaches have been widely used to teach second language (L2) writing. As Badger and White (2000) confirm the two approaches have dominated much of the teaching of writing that happens in the EFL classroom over the last 20 years. In the last ten years, however, a variety of genre-based methodologies, have been proposed as alternative approaches to teach writing (Badger & White, 2000; Chaisiri, 2010).

Howatt and Widdowson (2004) believe that over the past ten years or so, there have been two developments in language description that allow for a much more precise account of language of different domains of use, and so provide for a more exact specification of ESP course objectives. One of these is genre analysis.

The value of focusing on genres in various areas of the profession has been convincingly demonstrated by scholars such as Swales (1990), Bhatia (1991), Paltridge (2001), Hyland (2003, 2004, 2007), and others. Paltridge (2001), citing Swales (1990) points to the benefits of giving genre a more central classroom role when we teach language: a genre-based perspective focuses on language at the level of the whole text while at the same time taking into account the social and cultural context in which it is used (Paltridge, 2001).

In foreign or second-language writing, Hyland (2003) has argued that genre-based approaches provide L2 learners with explicit instructions on how they can make use of language patterns to write coherent and purposeful compositions. She especially focuses on teaching particular genres that students need to gain control of in order to succeed in particular settings (Paltridge, 2004). A teacher who employs genre-based approaches is, therefore, required to get learners to produce texts (usually- academic essays) on the basis of purpose, organization and audience (Paltridge, 2001).

Although there exist many studies in the area of EFL writing, only few deal with genre approaches to teaching L2 writing. This may be because genre approaches are relatively newcomers to the field of English language teaching (ELT) profession (Badger & White, 2000). The majority of these studies are qualitative studies concerned with the implementation of genre based pedagogies in EFL classroom settings.

Based on the positive results found in these qualitative studies (e.g. Chaisiri, 2010; Gebhard & Harman, 2011 ; Walker, 1999), it could be stated that genre-based approaches have been demonstrated to be good instructional instruments to teach L2 students the skills necessary to write in ways that reflect particular genres within particular contexts. However, empirical research on the potential of genre-based approaches, as effective pedagogies for teaching L2 writing, has not been adequately carried out so far. Moreover, the idea of using genre-based writing instruction in the second language classroom in a non-native speaking country is yet to be explored in any satisfactory way.

In Iran like many non-English speaking countries, academic writing has remained a problem for students (Martin,1998; Mynt, 1997). It is often seen that Iranian EFL students fail to write a coherent and fluent English composition although sometimes they show high performance on grammar tests. Therefore, when they are asked to write academic papers, most Iranian students either turn to writing handbooks for direction or imitate the format of published articles. …

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