Scaffolding Language, Scaffolding Writing:A Genre Approach to Teaching Narrative Writing
Keywords: genre, narrative, genre pedagogy, Systemic functional linguistics
National Chiayi University, Taiwan
Fei-Wen Cheng is Associate Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages at National Chiayi University in Taiwan, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in English composition. Her research interests lie in the area of academic writing, genre theory, and critical pedagogies.
Second language (L2) writers often have an incomplete control of English and rely on teachers to help them develop the linguistic resources necessary for them to express themselves effectively. Genre-based pedagogies were developed to address the language needs by offering students explicit and systematic explanations of the way language functions in social context. One of these approaches, drawing on Halliday & Matthiessen s (2004) functional grammar, identifies the discourse and grammatical structures typical in different social activities and links these linguistic choices with the social purposes and situations that the texts participate in. However, few studies have investigated the effects of genre-based pedagogy on L2 students writing development. The present study addressed the need by evaluating the functional approach to genre in an EFL composition course in Taiwan as college freshmen learned how to write a narrative text. Results indicated that students essays exhibited large pre- to posttest gains in specific rhetorical moves (i.e. character s problem illustration and struggle identification), in content development, in textual coherence and in language usage. These results confirmed the findings of previous studies on advanced L2 learners that explicit knowledge of genre sharpens students awareness regarding the content, organization and language use to generate the target genre.