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Genre and second-language academic writing

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 June 2014

Brian Paltridge*
University of Sydney,


The term ‘genre’ first came into the field of second-language (L2) writing and, in turn, the field of English for specific purposes (ESP) in the 1980s, with the research of John Swales, first carried out in the UK, into the introduction section of research articles. Other important figures in this area are Tony Dudley-Evans, Ann Johns and Ken Hyland, who have argued for the value of genre in the teaching of L2 academic writing. ESP genre analysis is a development of text linguistics and the description of academic genres, moving from a focus on lexicogrammatical features to rhetorical moves and, later, to a focus on rhetorical context (see Swales 2001 for a review). Systemic functional genre analysis (typically called the ‘Sydney school’) is a development of research such as that of Longacre (1976) and Labov & Waletzky (1967) and their analyses of the discourse structures of texts. Jim Martin and Joan Rothery are two important figures in the early development of systemic functional genre analysis; their work became the basis for the Disadvantaged Schools Project in Sydney (see Rose & Martin 2012 for a history). As an approach to the teaching of writing, genre-based pedagogy came into prominence in the US, in part as a response to process writing, which, it was felt, did not realistically prepare students for the demands of writing in academic contexts (Horowitz 1986). Genre-based pedagogy in Australia has a similar history and was a reaction to whole language and process writing, which were dominant in the teaching of writing in Australian schools at the time.

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