After reading this week’s articles, I am still not entirely sure I understand genre and process, so I decided to dig a little deeper into that aspect of teaching writing. I came across the article below, and it had the added bonus of connecting to L2 writing, which is something that I want to research more because my practicum involves teaching an L2 writing class.

Johns, A. M. (2011). The future of genre in l2 writing: Fundamental, but contested, instructional decisions.Journal of Second Language Writing20(1), 56-68. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1060374310000561

Ann Johns explores Genre-Based Writing Instruction (GBWI) through four topics: naming, genre acquisition (“the direct teaching and student learning of specified text types which are considered by practitioners to be common exemplars of genres” (Johns, 2011)  vs. awareness (“examining the relationships among texts, their rhetorical purposes, and the broader contexts in which texts from a genre may appear” (Johns, 2011); the major pedagogical focus of the GBWI curriculum, which in the L2 context can elevate either written text types or rhetorical contexts, and ideology—whether L2 students should be begin critiquing contexts and texts or wait to be assimilated into professional/academic environments. The crux of this article appears to be Johns’ efforts to portray a balanced perspective on the four issues in L2 GBWI in both theory and in-class decision-making. It appears is seeking to propose a compromise that juggles the many-faceted needs of the field (like learner confidence, contextual influences on text systems and writer processes).

In naming, the aforementioned compromise uses the theoretical background of English for Specific purposes, which allows room for both flexibility (“because authentic texts tend to be mixed”) and the teaching of rhetorical models that are linked to structures (Johns, 2011). In the classroom, Johns suggests that instructors start with named texts in students’ languages/backgrounds first to move them to the related discourse-styles in English (2011).

With genre learning versus genre awareness, Johns points to research that shows that fixed essays are problematic for instruction/transfer because they portray the practices involved as too stable (Johns, 2011).  Johns then points to the “high road” or “far transfer of learning,” meaning that genre awareness will allow students to apply old knowledge to new contexts (Johns, 2011).

Regarding pedagogies, Johns references Flowerdew, who suggested that teaching genre can follow either the linguistic or non-linguistic (New Rhetoric) approaches. Again here Johns appears to seek compromise in the form of curriculum that begin with texts and their structures, particularly among novice students; but then, using some of the suggestions made by the New Rhetoricians….move towards an integration of theories and practices that value analysis of context, complex writing processes, and intertextuality” (Johns, 2011). When applying these approaches, Johns argues that instructors should be neither “accomodationist” nor “assimilationist” toward their L2 students. Instead, students and instructors should consider “how a text from a genre might be structured, how it relates to other texts, where it might appear, what writer processes might be involved,” and other contextual elements regarding GBWI, like the “writer’s role, the audience and the influence of other texts”  (Johns, 2011)

I am not sure I would recommend this article. There were points I found intriguing, and it is certainly full of valuable information, but I am a bit put off by not hearing her opinion. This article is well-researched and truly strives for a balanced exploration of the issues. I feel like I should want to recommend it—I’m not sure why I don’t.

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