GRETA Granada (Spain): María Martínez Lirola on teaching writing with genre awareness


María, who is a professor at the University of Alicante, began by asking the participants whether they had had explicit instruction in genre during their schooling. The answer for everybody was no. At school, we tend to have experience only of essay writing, with no awareness that there are many different genres of text, nor of how context and purpose shape the structure of these.

During the main body of the workshop, we worked in groups, using a handout, on classroom tasks intended to raise student awareness of genre. In the first of these, we saw a number of micro-fragments of text and we had to perform detective work on these (deducing where they were from, what the social purpose of the text would be, and from what stage in the text they were extracted). We then had to match the texts with one from a list of genre types: exposition, information report, news story, review, recount, narrative, explanation and procedure. We were given a table with the generic structure of each of these.

María demonstrated, with before and after texts from her students, how their work had been improved by explicit attention to generic structure. For example, when writing an expository text, they might skip some stages, under-use conjunctions and use inappropriate pronouns. María also pointed out how grammar could be worked on within a text-based approach rather than through decontextualized sentences as is normally the case.

The theoretical background  to María’s work is the Sydney School, and Systemic Functional Linguistics. The sample of class material which we saw in the handout was taken from:

Droga, L & Humphrey, S (2002) “Getting Started with Functional Grammar”, Berry NSW


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