Skills

Real World Written Genre and Writing Skills

Sarah Mortimer

In this week’s webinar, Craig Thaine examined the real world written genres associated with information technology – emails and blog comments, for instance – and considered how these genres might inform our approach to writing lessons in English language classrooms.

Craig also explored some specific writing sub-skills associated with these genres, and how these can help our learners become more effective communicators in a twenty-first century, digital world.

He began by considering what we mean by genre:

a term for grouping texts together, representing how writers typically use language to respond to recurring situations.  – Hyland (2009)

or

… a goal-oriented, staged social process.  – Martin (1992)

There are a wide range of e-genres available to learners; some examples of these are:

  • Email
  • Blogs
  • Social media posts
  • Discussion boards
  • Tweets

 

Different e-genres have different purposes, and as a result can be used in a variety of ways. For instance, in a social media post you might narrate events of a holiday; with a text message you can invite someone to a party, and on a blog you can describe in detail something that impressed you such as a delicious meal. (This list is, of course, not exhaustive.) In the classroom, these goals can be matched to text types to encourage the learners to use persuasive or descriptive text in a ‘real-world’ situation. The following table shows how the goals of an e-genre can encourage a text type.

Goals and text types

Goals and text types

Setting tasks that use e-genres can engage learners more than using traditional text types. That’s because many learners engage with e-genres on a daily basis, such as writing emails and posting on social media, so these tasks reflect the learners’ reality in the classroom. This can mean that learners don’t initially regard what they are doing is writing, yet although the mode of e-genres differs to traditional writing, they are still underpinned by traditional text types.

Craig then explored some tasks that would encourage students to use convention types related to spoken language, encourage learners to use passive or impersonal pronouns, and highlight subtle differences in calls to action. These tasks can also highlight the importance of being careful about what they post on social media.

As Craig demonstrated, focusing on e-genres in the classroom can motivate learners, raise awareness of the audience of e-genres and the need to communicate effectively and focus on specific conventions. He then concluded the webinar by offering a possible approach for teachers when using e-genres and writing skills.

You can watch Craig’s webinar in full by clicking the play button on the video below.

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