The Effect Of An Explicit Genre-based Approach To Teaching Workplace Writing

Albino, Gabriel (2015). The Effect Of An Explicit Genre-based Approach To Teaching Workplace Writing. EdD thesis The Open University.



The present study assesses the effect of an explicit genre-based approach to teaching writing for learners of English as a foreign language in a workplace, which is a branch of an American company that explores oil and gas in Angola. By drawing on the genre-based approaches developed by Swales (1990) and Martin (2012), the study firstly sought to investigate the text types written in the workplace and the features deemed relevant for successful writing. Secondly, it sought to understand the extent to which an explicit genre-based approach could support learners with their writing, particularly the improvement of the readability of their texts. Data were collected through learners’ sample texts, a questionnaire to specialist informants and an experiment, and were qualitatively and quantitatively analysed (Hammersley, 2007, p. 171). An email to make a request was identified as the most frequently written text and was used in the experiment, which was conducted with an experimental group (n=18) and a control group (n=18), both being made up of intermediate learners. While the experimental group received explicit-genre instruction in a classroom, the control group remained in their job, where they also practised the genre. The experimental group commented on the explicit genre lessons, and their comments indicated familiarisation with the need to concentrate attention on content, purpose, and audience when writing, and to provide everything a reader needs to understand a text with little effort and time. Furthermore, the two groups wrote a pre-test and a post-test, and the comparison of the readability scores (provided by two specialist informants) favoured the experimental group. The texts written in the tests were further explored to assess whether the allowable order of moves, the choice of informational Theme and thematic progression (Henry & Roseberry, 2001; Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004) influenced the readability scores. Of the three measures, the allowable order of moves and informational Theme appeared to influence the readability scores. The overall result suggests that an explicit genre-based approach can be a suitable approach to teaching writing for learners in the workplace.

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