An examination of the concept of "genre" as a tool for the design of speaking activities for English for specific purposes (ESP)

Makarova, Anna (2013). An examination of the concept of "genre" as a tool for the design of speaking activities for English for specific purposes (ESP). EdD thesis The Open University.



This action research is aimed to investigate the application of the concept of genre for the selection, design and teaching of oral genres relevant to the needs of students of Political Management and Political Science at Bremen University. Although the genre approach has become widely accepted for teaching field-specific content in English for Specific purposes (ESP), the literature review revealed that the focus of its application was writing and that oral genres have been under-researched.

A framework for developing academic English courses suggested by Swales {1990) helped to identify the genre of discussion as the most important for these students. The research comprises several stages with distinct methodology and findings for each of them. The stages include studies of a discourse community of students who returned from a semester abroad; the selection of a corpus for modelling the genre of argumentative discussion; discourse analysis of the corpus; designing activities on the basis of the results of this analysis; video recording learners' discussions; and analysing the effectiveness of the methodology. The research addresses several aspects of researching and teaching oral genres. The first one is related to. the development of theory for the analysis of oral genres relevant to students needs and examining which concepts and ideas used for studying written interaction in ESP and SFL are applicable to researching spoken communication. The aim of the theoretical part was to conduct discourse analysis of a corpus of extracts from TV discussion programmes, selected to exemplify the genre, in order to reveal phonological and lexico-grammatical features in relation to the rhetorical function of persuasion of the genre of politics-related argumentative discussion. Concepts from Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) applied to prosody and pragmatics were used to identify language features important for raising students' awareness of characteristics of this genre. The most important aspect addressed in this research was investigating the impact of genre- based pedagogy for teaching the genre of discussion in the academic classroom. Activities for three teaching and learning cycles (Rothery, 1996) were designed and used in two rounds of teaching. The effectiveness of genre-based methodology was evaluated on the basis of quantitative and qualitative analysis of data collected at all phases of the teaching, and learning cycles in the first round of teaching. Another important issue addressed in this research was assessment. Using formative assessment in the form of self-assessment reports demonstrated how the focus of genre based assessment can be shifted from the products to the processes of genre learning. At the same time developing and introducing a CEFR- based (Common European Framework of Reference) discussion assessment form with detailed descriptors was one of the key elements in optimising genre-based classroom teaching. The research may be seen as a contribution to the conceptualisation of the teaching of oral genres in academic settings. Combining elements of the two schools of genre English for Specific Purposes (ESP) and Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) helped to develop a comprehensive approach for identifying, characterising and teaching the genre of discussion relevant to the needs of the selected group of ESP students. This approach places emphasis on the combination of fostering genre awareness and providing maximum opportunities for genre acquisition in the genre-based classroom. The research has been helpful improving the pedagogical practice of teaching the genre of discussion in one tertiary-level academic setting and the results are potentially transferrable to similar contexts in other universities . [brace not closed]

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