Thursday, May 26, 2011

Using Email-Writing Task in the ESL Classroom

Yasuda, S. J. (2011). Genre-Based Tasks in Foreign Language Writing: Developing  Writers' Genre Awareness, Linguistic Knowledge, and Writing Competence. Journal of Second Language Writing, 20, 111-133.

            In her article, “Genre-Based Tasks in Foreign Language Writing: Developing Writers' Genre Awareness, Linguistic Knowledge, and Writing Competence,” Sachiko Yasuda examines the pedagogic rewards of developing foreign language writers' genre awareness, linguistic knowledge, and writing competence. In her study at a private university in Japan, Yasuda notes the academic, along with linguistic, growth of 70 Japanese undergraduate students through email-writing tasks. Her main goal? Raise student awareness about writing as a social action.

Why Email-Writing Tasks?
            Yasuda (2011) advocates using email-writing tasks from the “growing interest in the noting of genre and the potential pedagogical value of genre-based writing pedagogies that has been addressed by a number of composition scholars” (112), twenty-two composition scholars to be exact.

Why the Genre-Based Writing Approach?
            When educating students in a second language (L2), a main goal is to help the students become conscious of the various texts in the realm of writing and the particular social value of those texts. By placing an emphasis on the notion of genre, students, writing in their L2, possess an advantage in understanding the relationship between the communicative purpose and the features of various texts at every discourse level (Yasuda, 2011). Yasudo asserts “foreign language (FL) writers” engage in writing tasks with the “belief that such texts are autonomous and [contextually] free” (112). With such an approach, FL writers lack the ability to understand the justification of writing as a social action, which is to “[perform] through interactions of purpose, audience, and linguistic choice” (Yasudo, 2011).

Possible Instruction and Methods for English Language Learners?
The following is a course schedule from Yasudo’s class (pg 118).
             In the course schedule, one can see the various genres the students encountered throughout the course. In addition, she also listed example expressions to help students grow in specific genre writing.
            Throughout the study, Yasudo notes her students knew very little at the beginning of course; however, at the end of the course, the students self-evaluation points to a growth in understanding on how to compose emails.
  (Table 3 from pg 121).

            By using email-writing tasks or other related genre-based methods in a classroom, a teacher, according to Yasudo’s research, is able to help his or her students’ writing ability in a number of ways:

            1. Students will be able to organize or shape generic patterns to achieve a particular purpose (Yasudo, 2011).

            2. Students will become more linguistically diverse in their first language (Yasudo, 2011).

            3. Students’ writing fluency will improve over the course of genre-based instruction (Yasudo, 2011).

            4. Student will be aware of the degrees of formalities, and will be able to “make more appropriate rhetorical choices” (124); moreover, they will be able to control those abilities (Yasudo). 

1 comment:

  1. A. Athas-
    Great job on this post. You did very well to highlight the important aspects of genre writing for FL writers. I agree that e-mail would be an excellent way to help ELLs develop this skill. "When educating students in a second language (L2), a main goal is to help the students become conscious of the various texts in the realm of writing and the particular social value of those texts," is extremely true. The students cannot begin to realize the differences in these genres of writing unless they experience it for themselves. As a future secondary English teacher, this might be handy in some of my classes if there are ELLs in the class. Thanks for this article!

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