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Keywords:

  • Common Core State Standards;
  • foreign language education;
  • genre-based instruction;
  • National Standards;
  • second language writing

Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Background
  5. Developing a Genre-Based Interactive Model
  6. Implications of Genre Theory for the Profession
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References
  10. APPENDIX A
  11. APPENDIX B
  12. APPENDIX C
  13. Biography

Recent educational standards have refocused the goals of foreign language (FL) instruction on “the purpose of communication” (ACTFL, 2012, p. 1) across the three modes of communication (interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational). To this end, this article considers a linguistically based genre theory as a means of enhancing instruction of presentational (writing) communication that is linked to authentic model texts. The genre theory considers all language as texts (genres) that are realized in contexts (registers) through knowledge and use of a functional grammar for making meaning called Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004, 2013). Key research from English as a second language (ESL) and FL education in the United States establishes empirical evidence of the effectiveness of instructional approaches based in this genre theory. To articulate a genre-based model of instruction for FL education linked to the National Standards (2006), the genre theory is incorporated into the Interactive Model for Integrating the Three Modes of Communication (Shrum & Glisan, 2010). Finally, implications of genre theory are discussed and recommendations are made for next steps to meet the goals articulated for FL education in the era of the Common Core State Standards (ACTFL, 2012; National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010).


Introduction

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Background
  5. Developing a Genre-Based Interactive Model
  6. Implications of Genre Theory for the Profession
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References
  10. APPENDIX A
  11. APPENDIX B
  12. APPENDIX C
  13. Biography

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 mandated, among other requirements, that states provide evidence that nearly all students were making adequate yearly progress. However, the law, which was intended to promote the alignment of testing, standards, and curriculum, was quickly found to fall short of this mark: Research conducted by Rothman, Slattery, Vranek, and Resnick (2002) on the alignment between state standards and the tests used to measure adequate yearly progress revealed that items that tested students' high-order thinking and critical analysis were underrepresented on state tests. Overall, the movement to connect standards-based teaching and testing:

may have seemed like a logical way to counter the narrowing of the curriculum…. However, efforts to promote more cognitively demanding instruction by building complex skills and knowledge into state or district content standards have been thwarted by the very tests used to assess those standards.

(Hamilton, 2010, p. 49)

To complicate the testing landscape, many districts and states began to use the same assessment systems for teacher accountability, which further compromised the tests' use as a measure of student learning (Koretz & Hamilton, 2006; Shepard, 2003). In order to address the increasingly complicated and numerous state-specific standards and assessments that were created in many states across the country, consensus was building among education experts that the design of an effective system for the assessment of student learning should begin with the design of “a detailed, coherent curriculum that is aligned with rigorous content standards” (Hamilton, 2010, p. 49). The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative emerged out of this need for a more uniform assessment system that begins with a clearly articulated set of learning goals for each grade level.

The CCSS are a single set of educational standards for English language arts and mathematics for grades K–12. They were created in 2010 by the public policy division of the National Governors Association, the Center for Best Practices, as part of a nationwide initiative to build “a better assessment system” (Hamilton, 2010). States volunteer to adopt the standards, which were designed to outline the knowledge and skills that students will need to be college- and career-ready. Ultimately, assessment systems that are aligned with the CCSS are intended to replace the existing state assessments. As of November 2013, 45 states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the U.S. Department of Defense Educational Activity had adopted the standards (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2013).

Due to the fast-paced and widespread adoption of the CCSS, educators in secondary settings as well as in postsecondary colleges of education across the United States have devoted considerable time to understanding the CCSS. A primary focus of this work is to engage students in interpreting and producing rigorous content area texts through an “integrated approach to literacy” (National Governors Association, 2010). This approach to academic literacy requires that students be taught to understand the complex ways in which meaning is conveyed in content area texts not only in English language arts but also in social studies, science, and technical subjects (National Governors Association, 2010). The CCSS describe the development of academic literacy as “a shared responsibility within the school” (National Governors Association, 2010, p. 5). In this school-wide effort to support and extend students' literacy skills, foreign language (FL) teachers are extremely well positioned as expert teacher-leaders whose focus is the integrated and contextualized use of language in instruction and assessment (e.g., Adair-Hauck, Glisan, & Troyan, 2013; Shrum & Glisan, 2010).

To make explicit the many close connections between the CCSS and the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century (henceforth referred to as “the National Standards”) (National Standards, 2006), a crosswalk document—the Alignment of the National Standards for Learning Languages with the Common Core State Standards (henceforth referred to as the “National Standards-Common Core Alignment”)—was created (ACTFL, 2012). In addition to documenting commonalities between the CCSS and the Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities standards, the National Standards-Common Core Alignment highlights the links between the three modes of communication (interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational) and the expectations of the CCSS for literacy, taking particular account of the shared emphasis on “the purpose of communication” (ACTFL, 2012, p. 1). A key implication of this linkage of the National Standards and the CCSS is the emphasis on a shared instructional approach that helps students develop academic literacy across a variety of genres.

Given the emphasis in the National Standards-Common Core Alignment on incorporating authentic texts on a wide range of topics that represent a variety of genres, this article investigates the role of genre theory as a means of helping students to make connections between authentic model texts and their own presentational writing (Troyan, 2013). Specifically, the genre theory offered here is informed by Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL; Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004, 2013; Martin & Rose, 2008) and considers language as texts (genres) that are realized in contexts (registers) through knowledge and use of a functional grammar for making meaning. This genre theory was developed in educational contexts for the purpose of better understanding how language facilitates learning (e.g., Christie, 2012; Derewianka & Jones, 2012; Rose & Martin, 2012). Genre-based approaches informed by SFL have demonstrated promising results in FL education (e.g., Byrnes, 2009; Yasuda, 2011). However, models of instruction have yet to be explored in K–12 FL classrooms. Following a review of genre theory and its uses in K–12 English as a second language (ESL) research and university-level FL instruction, this article proposes a genre-based model of instruction for FL teaching.

Background

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Background
  5. Developing a Genre-Based Interactive Model
  6. Implications of Genre Theory for the Profession
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References
  10. APPENDIX A
  11. APPENDIX B
  12. APPENDIX C
  13. Biography

SFL makes available an interpretive framework to approach, better understand, and produce spoken and written texts on several key levels, called metafunctions:

  • The experiential metafunction is a resource for the construction of knowledge within a field and the participation in its activities. Experiential meaning conveys what a text is about and who or what is involved; Halliday and Matthiessen (2004, 2013) referred to this as the “clause as experience.”
  • The interpersonal metafunction is a resource for actualizing tenor. Interpersonal meaning involves the way a text communicates attitudes and judgments, or in the words of Halliday and Matthiessen (2004, 2013), the “clause as exchange.”
  • The textual metafunction is a resource for the weaving together of the ideational and interpersonal metafunctions based on the needs of a particular mode (Martin, 2009). The textual meaning, or the “clause as message,” refers to the ways in which the text is organized to present information (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004, 2013).

When humans communicate in written or in spoken form, all three metafunctions are used simultaneously to create meaning.

Genre and a Theory of Language Learning

According to Martin (2009), SFL is indispensible in genre-based approaches to language learning because of “its focus on grammar as a meaning-making resource and its focus on text as semantic choice in social context” (p. 11). Genre theory, as a component of a functional approach to language learning, is particularly relevant to the CCSS because of its focus on authentic language use. Martin noted that genre theory

is developed as an outline of how we use language to live; it tries to describe the ways in which we mobilize language—how out of all the things we might do with language, each culture chooses just a few, and enacts them over and over again—slowly adding to the repertoire as needs arise, and slowly dropping things that are not much use.

(2009, p. 13)

Martin (1992) articulated a more delicate notion of genre that involved two complementary layers: the context of culture and the context of situation. The former has evolved into the current notion of genre. The latter represents register. Figure 1, from Derewianka and Jones (2012), illustrates field, tenor, and mode as variables of register. This application of the theory actualizes the assertion of Plum (1998), who explained that in a given situation, the speaker or writer may vary the use of field, tenor, and mode to achieve the overall purpose of the genre. In this way, register is an enactment of the register variables that a speaker or writer has at his or her disposal to make meaning within a particular context in a particular culture.

image

Figure 1. Context of Culture and Context of Situation Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press Australia, from Teaching Language in Context by Derewianka and Jones, 2012 © Oxford University Press.

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Figure 2 illustrates the relationship between the “social purpose” of a genre; the variation that can occur in the register variables—field, tenor, and mode; and the language choices that are made to create a spoken or written text to achieve the goals of the genre (Derewianka, 2012). The level of genre, or social purpose, highlights the reason for which the text exists in a culture. Below the level of overall purpose of the genre are the register variables. Choices are made at this level depending on the communicative situation. The first, field, represents the ideas or subject matter that is to be communicated. For example, depending on the specific branch of science (i.e., earth science, physics, astronomy), students will need to know the appropriate vocabulary to create and understand texts of science. Likewise, a distinct set of vocabulary is necessary for social studies. This differentiation in field applies to each content area. Within the content areas, the language of physics is distinct from the language of the other fields of science. The second variable, tenor, involves the relationships between the producer and the consumer of the text. Consider persuasion as an example. Among friends, the act of persuasion might involve one friend convincing another to go to a movie. The language is informal, the relationship is a close one, and the language is reflective of the situation. By contrast, a persuasive argument for requesting a day of vacation, where the request is made by an employee to a supervisor, unfolds in a different manner. The exchange is formal because of the workplace relationship involved. The exchange may even be scheduled by the employee by making a formal appointment to meet with the supervisor. The language used is more formal to reflect the hierarchy and power structures in the workplace. The third layer, mode, allows for an examination of the structure of the text—the ways in which it is organized and in which language is used to create a “message” (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004).

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Figure 2. The Functions of Language As They Relate to the Context Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press Australia, from Teaching Language in Context by Derewianka and Jones, 2012 © Oxford University Press.

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Review of Relevant Research

During the past decade, several research projects have investigated a genre-based approach to the teaching of writing to English language learners in the United States. This approach transforms the writing process into a socially and academically relevant second language writing act (Hyland, 2003, 2007). The writing processes researched in this group of studies included argumentative texts in the form of letters from fifth grade students to the principal (Gebhard, Harman, & Seger, 2007) and student blogging to develop writing in the friendly letter genre (Gebhard, Shin, & Seger, 2011). In both cases, functional linguistic analysis was applied to reveal to students the linguistic tools available to them in the particular genre. Likewise, linguistic analysis was applied in the data analysis to depict the students' expanding use of the key conventions of each genre. In the case of the argumentative genre, students crafted “carefully developed arguments and counter arguments” through the use of a greater variety of verbs and genre-specific nouns, appropriate adverbs and modals such as “please” and “will,” and the business letter organization (Gebhard et al., 2007, p. 427). A key finding in the blogging study involved the development of the use of tenor, or how the student writers sought to make an interpersonal connection with the reader. A shift occurred in the students' early use of simplistic expressions (“I like”) to more complex constructions (“It was kind of you” and “I feel bad for you because…”) as knowledge of the genre developed. Collectively, these studies reveal the potential of genre-based instruction in making writing practices visible to students in order to improve writing of specific text types (Gebhard et al., 2007).

Genre-Based Writing Instruction in FL Education

Other studies have applied a genre-based approach to writing instruction in FL courses at the university level. Byrnes (2009) studied the development of functional linguistic aspects of German students' writing during a program of instruction that exposed students to a progression of social and academic genres with the goal of attaining advanced literacy skills (Byrnes, Maxim, & Norris, 2010; Norris, 2006). Each level of instruction in the program was organized around a set of genres. A quantitative analysis of students' writing from one cohort over four years (Byrnes, 2009) revealed several key findings. First, the lexical density of students' writing increased, particularly in level 4. The second finding involved grammatical metaphor, a key functional linguistic aspect of advanced writing. While grammatical metaphor remained stable between levels 2 and 3, it tripled from an average of 17.36 instances in the Level 3 writing task analyzed to an average of 55.43 instances in the Level 4 writing task. Third, quantitative data were further corroborated by descriptive analysis of one student's writing over four years. This seminal study in writing development documented the impact of genre-based instruction on the development of academic literacy of students in a postsecondary German program.

Yasuda (2011) investigated the implementation of a genre-based writing approach to the e-mail genre for 70 Japanese university students enrolled in two novice-level English as a foreign language classes. The e-mail genre was taught through a task-based approach (Byrnes, 2002; Norris, 2009). Comparison of pre- and posttest writing samples revealed significant improvement in task fulfillment, cohesion and organization, grammatical control, fluency, and language sophistication. However, students did not show significant improvement in vocabulary use. Survey results and interviews with six students indicated that genre-based instruction impacted students' “way of thinking about writing emails in English” and boosted their confidence in their writing (Yasuda, 2011, p. 121). Combined with the Byrnes (2009) study, the results demonstrate the effectiveness of genre-based instruction in developing the writing of FL students at the university level.

Building on the research at the university level, recent research has also explored a genre-based approach to writing development at the elementary school level. In a study of 15 fourth-grade students of Spanish as a foreign language, Troyan (2013) used SFL to analyze students' writing before and after a genre-based pedagogy focused on a single genre. Findings revealed that students were able to use certain linguistic and organizational features of the genre in the posttest that they did not use in the pretest. The findings suggest that genre-based writing instruction may be used at the K–12 level to promote the development of academic literacy in FL programs.

Developing a Genre-Based Interactive Model

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Background
  5. Developing a Genre-Based Interactive Model
  6. Implications of Genre Theory for the Profession
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References
  10. APPENDIX A
  11. APPENDIX B
  12. APPENDIX C
  13. Biography

The genre-based interactive model offers an integrated approach to literacy that meets the CCSS goal of explicitly developing the genre-specific literacies that students will need for both college and career readiness as well as global citizenship (ACTFL, 2012; Carnegie Council on Advancing Adolescent Literacy, 2010; National Governors Association, 2010). The model incorporates two key approaches: the integrative and interactive approach to interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational communication (Shrum & Glisan, 2010; “the interactive model”) and the genre-based pedagogy of the Sydney School of Linguistics (Derewianka, 1991; Martin & Rose, 2007; Rose & Acevedo, 2006; Rose & Martin, 2012; Rothery, 1989, 1996).

The Interactive Model for Integrating the Three Modes of Communication

Shrum and Glisan (2010) proposed the interactive model for integrating the three modes of communication. The interactive model builds on an approach to interpreting literary texts advanced by Swaffar, Arens, and Byrnes (1991). According to this view, the goal of interpretive tasks is to build students' understanding of “the ways in which the message of the text interacts with [their] perceptions in both top-down and bottom-up ways” (Shrum & Glisan, 2010, p. 202; Swaffar & Arens, 2005; Swaffar et al., 1991). In the interactive model, a task in one mode of communication links to a subsequent task in another mode of communication. For example, reading an authentic passage about the life of a sports figure leads to an interpersonal activity in which students discuss the earnings of athletes in the United States in comparison to those in the target culture. The interactive model guides students through four phases: preparation, comprehension, interpretation/discussion, and creativity. A fifth phase, extension, is optional. Through the phases, students are engaged in activities across the three modes of communication (interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational). However, the interactive model does not explicitly consider important aspects of genre.

Genre-Based Pedagogy

A pedagogy of genre-based literacy was developed by a group of Australian researchers from the University of Sydney, commonly referred to as the Sydney School of Linguistics.1 These researchers identified texts that students were commonly required to read and write during their school years (Martin & Rose, 2008; Rothery, 1989, 1996). Subsequently, scholars identified and described other genres, including, for example, service encounters (Ventola, 1987), narratives (Plum, 1998), and casual conversation (Eggins & Slade, 2005). Christie and Derewianka (2008) narrowed the research to focus on the genres that commonly occur in specific content areas.

From this line of research, interventionist pedagogies have been developed that explicitly teach students to read and write in specific genres (Martin, 2009; Martin & Rothery, 1986; Rose & Martin, 2012; Rothery, 1989, 1996). These pedagogical models all emphasize the critical importance of interaction and joint language construction with adults, termed apprenticeship, for child language development, including children's ability to interpret and compose texts (Halliday, 1975, 1993; Painter, 1984, 1986). Figure 3 depicts the approach to language development and overall literacy described by Martin and Rose (Martin & Rose, 2007; Rose & Martin, 2012).

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Figure 3. Teaching/Learning Cycle for Mentoring Genre Reprinted from Linguistics and Education, 20/1, Martin, J. R., Genre and language learning: A social semiotic perspective, pp. 10–21, © (2009), with permission from Elsevier.

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In the deconstruction phase, students become familiar with the genre that they will ultimately write. The teacher assists students in understanding the genre through a functional analysis of the text with three guiding questions that promote a deeper understanding of all types of texts across all content areas: (1) What is going on in the text (revealing the field)? (2) How does the author interact with the reader (revealing the tenor)? and (3) How is the text organized (revealing the mode)? (Fang & Schleppegrell, 2008, 2010). Once students are familiar with a genre, they can begin to develop control over it through the second phase, joint construction (Derewianka, 2003). This phase can be facilitated in many ways. Martin and Rose (2007) described a process in which the teacher composes the text with students on the board. Other variations directly involve the students in the activity (Painter, 1986; Rothery, 1989). This kinesthetic link helps further build students' experiential background knowledge and provides an opportunity for teachers to clearly differentiate between the language that is used to speak about content knowledge and the language that is used to represent it in writing (Derewianka & Jones, 2012; Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004, 2013; Rose & Martin, 2012). In the final phase, independent construction, students demonstrate their knowledge of the content (field), their knowledge of how to relate to the reader (tenor), and their knowledge of how texts of this type are organized (mode) by creating a written piece of that genre.2

Thus, the genre-based interactive model combines aspects of the interactive model (Shrum & Glisan, 2010) and the genre-based pedagogy of the Sydney School (Derewianka, 1991; Martin & Rose, 2007; Rose & Acevedo, 2006; Rose & Martin, 2012; Rothery, 1989, 1996) to immerse students in the interpretation and production of target language texts through interaction in the target language. Table 1 depicts the phases of the genre-based interactive model.

Table 1. Phases of the Genre-Based Interactive Model
Phase of the Genre-Based Interactive ModelPhase of the Interactive ModelPhase of the Sydney School Genre-Based ModelMode of Communication
1Preparation and ComprehensionDeconstructionInterpretive
2Interpretation and DiscussionDeconstructionInterpretive and Interpersonal
3Creativity/Extension (Group Creation of Text)Joint ConstructionInterpersonal and Presentational
4Extension (Creation of New Text)Independent ConstructionPresentational

The Genre-Based Interactive Model

Phase 1

In Phase 1, students are guided through the interpretation of the text through activities that access and expand upon their background knowledge, familiarize them with important vocabulary, and lead them to hypothesize about the content of the text. The students then move to comprehension activities by focusing on important words, key phrases, and the main idea of the text. At the end of Phase 1, students begin to develop an understanding of the functional components at work in the text. Guided by the questions “What is the purpose of the text?” and “Why did the author write it?” (Fang & Schleppegrell, 2008, 2010), the teacher draws explicit attention to the function of the text and how information is communicated—that is, the ways in which the stages of the text combine to achieve the purpose. Students' attention may be focused through questioning, activities requiring observation and analysis, and direct instruction.

Phase 2

In Phase 2, the goal is to systematically deconstruct the genre of the text through interpretation and discussion. The teacher leads the students through the text stage-by-stage,3 revealing the name, function, and overall meaning communicated in each stage. In Troyan's (2013) study, the teacher allowed her students to propose names of the stages based on their observations of what was happening in a particular stage. Through discussion, focused instructional activities, or direct instruction, students learn the salient lexico-grammatical (syntactic patterns and lexical items) features at work in each stage in the text. Equipped with this knowledge of the genre, students later appropriate the functional knowledge about the genre to create their own version of the text in Phases 3 and 4.

Phase 3a

In Phase 3a, students begin to gain control over the genre through joint construction activities that extend their growing knowledge of the genre in an assisted creative process combining the interpersonal (speaking) and presentational (writing) modes of communication. Joint construction can be facilitated in many ways. Martin and Rose (2007) described a process in which the teacher composes the text with students.

Phase 3b

Phase 3b departs slightly from the suggestions of the Sydney School in that it incorporates an additional component between joint construction and independent construction. Pairs or small groups of students collaborate to compose an example of the genre under consideration so that they have another opportunity to develop purposeful and functional knowledge of the genre before independent construction.

Phase 4

In the final step of the process, students independently compose an original example of the genre in the specified communicative mode.

A genre-based interactive approach, such as the one described above, incorporates the genre-based pedagogies of the Sydney School into an existing instructional approach that was designed to address the three modes of communication in the interpretation of texts. Adding an explicit focus on genre allows the teacher to address the organizational features of text that have not been addressed to this point in instructional approaches linked to the National Standards (2006). The following section offers a brief example of how a genre-based approach could be addressed in the FL classroom.

An Example of Genre-Based Pedagogy: Describing Tourist Landmarks

Troyan (2013) describes a fourth grade Spanish instructional unit on describing tourist landmarks that lasted 22 days. Throughout the unit on the city of Segovia, the students interpreted and deconstructed an authentic descriptive text, then created a description of a commonly visited landmark similar to the focal text from the Web site http://www.inspain.org, which described the Alcázar de Segovia [the Castle of Segovia] (see Appendix A).

In Lesson 1, students accessed background knowledge about castles through a comparison activity using the Walt Disney castle in Florida and the Alcázar de Segovia, the subject of the text that students would interpret and deconstruct. Students then identified cognates, important details, and the main idea of the text and used that knowledge to determine the purpose of the text. Finally, the teacher identified the five sections of the text that would be the focus of the rest of the unit.

In Lesson 2, the teacher helped students deconstruct the text and analyze the meaning and type of language used in each of five sections: El Título [The Title], La Frase con Gancho [The Hook Sentence], Un Dato Histórico [A Historical Fact], Los Datos Arquitectónicos [Architectural Facts], and Organiza Tu Visita [Organize Your Visit]. Students learned to differentiate between the verbs that the author chose to use in each section of the text.

In Lesson 3, the students learned how attributes, mainly adjectives, were used by the author to describe the Alcázar de Segovia by comparing a landmark in Segovia with one in the school's neighborhood. Using a summary of attributes that was jointly created by the teacher and the students, students described the attributes of other landmarks and applied their knowledge by highlighting attributes such as magnificas [magnificent] and excelentes [excellent] in the text about Alcázar de Segovia.

In Lesson 4, the teacher helped students build knowledge of circumstances (referred to as información adicional [additional information] during instruction). Examples of circumstances in the landmark description included en la confluencia [at the confluence] to specify location and con foso [with a moat] to further describe the castle. Students combined their knowledge of the role of attributes and circumstances to write descriptions of a variety of landmarks in collaboration with the teacher.

In the final lesson, Lesson 5, students co-constructed with the teacher a written description of a landmark.

At the end of the unit, students completed a five-day Integrated Performance Assessment in which they read a description of another frequently visited landmark in Segovia (interpretive communication), discussed differences between two landmarks (interpersonal communication), and wrote a description of a landmark in their city for a Spanish visitor's guide (presentational communication).

Implications of Genre Theory for the Profession

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Background
  5. Developing a Genre-Based Interactive Model
  6. Implications of Genre Theory for the Profession
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References
  10. APPENDIX A
  11. APPENDIX B
  12. APPENDIX C
  13. Biography

The vision for academic literacy articulated in the CCSS (National Governors Association, 2010), can only be realized through instruction that reinforces an “integrated model of literacy” across the K–12 learning experience (p. 4). Such pedagogies can serve a dual role. That is, they can develop students' interpretive skills while simultaneously building their skill in composing written academic genres (Kibler, 2011). Through the alignment of the CCSS and the three modes of communication (ACTFL, 2012), ACTFL has stressed the role that language educators can—and must—play in teaching and reinforcing core academic literacy skills.

Moving forward, as the National Standards-Common Core Alignment (ACTFL, 2012) implies, standards-based instruction must reflect the outcomes described in both standards documents. Specifically, teachers must recognize that students need opportunities to develop proficiency across a variety of “specific writing types,” i.e., academic genres in the current standards (ACTFL, 2012; National Governors Association, 2010), and thus be more fully prepared to communicate in “situations where the language [is] used by representatives of the culture” (National Standards, 2006, p. 14). The example provided in this article, the description of a landmark, addresses an informational genre and could function as one genre in a developmental continuum of genres that are specifically addressed within the curriculum.

A genre continuum for writing in K–12 FL programs that is aligned with the CCSS (National Governors Association, 2010) is further developed in Table 2. The table was created based on the percentages for each text type that is recommended in the CCSS (National Governors Association, 2010, p. 5). The recommendations for text types were developed based on the percentages of text types in the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Writing Framework (National Assessment Governing Board, 2007, as cited in National Governors Association, 2010, p. 5).

Table 2. A Continuum of Genres for Writing in a K–12 FL Program
Grade SpanTo PersuadeTo ExplainTo Convey Experience
K–5Simple texts persuading the reader to visit a particular destination in the target cultureSimple texts describing placesSimple texts about the self
Simple texts persuading the reader to conserve resourcesSimple texts about how things workSimple stories about people
NAEP Framework Percentage30%35%35%
6–8Texts persuading the reader to visit a particular destination in the target cultureSimple texts about historical figures and events in the target cultureSimple texts about the self integrating narrative/different perspectives
Simple texts persuading the reader to conserve resourcesMore complex texts about how things workStories about people integrating narrative/different perspectives
 Other simple scientific texts 
NAEP Framework Percentage35%35%20%
9–12Texts in the target language that present an argument, defend an opinionHistorical recounts about significant figures and events in the target culture that convey implicit judgments about the figure/eventExpanded stories about people incorporating more complex narrative
The literary critiqueTexts in the target language about scientific topics 
NAEP Framework Percentage40%40%20%

As shown in Table 2, in well-articulated K–12 programs, students in the early grades may begin to read and write increasingly complex informational, narrative, and, finally, persuasive texts and even begin to produce their own literary critiques in grades 9–12. It is also important to note that the percentage of texts that “convey experience” decreases from 33% in the K–5 grade span to 20% in the 9–12 grade span, a percentage that may be significantly less than what K–12 FL programs, particularly high school programs, currently include. In other words, the CCSS require a shift in K–12 FL reading and writing toward a wider variety of informational and persuasive texts than has been typical in the past. Greater attention to a wider variety of text types will also raise teachers' and students' awareness of the differing ways in which meaning is conveyed in written and spoken language (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004, 2013; Kibler, 2011).

In the following section, two examples illustrate how genre theory may be integrated into instruction and assessment aligned with the National Standards (2006).

An Explicit Focus on Genre

A focus on genre could be integrated into most target language learning activities and assessments. Consider the following scenario:

Because Ghana is a country near the equator, and many Spanish-speaking people also live in equatorial countries, the vocabulary and concepts learned about Africa reinforce information already presented about the target culture. After being asked to brainstorm the similarities and differences among a community in Ghana, a Spanish-speaking community, and their local community, the students then write several paragraphs or develop projects about Ghana in Spanish which depict these similarities and differences.

(National Standards, 2006, pp. 82–83)

Genre theory and, ideally, an FL curriculum that emphasizes academic genres, like the one depicted in Table 2, would reveal that the “several paragraphs” or the “projects” that students would develop need to be further deconstructed and detailed. Assuming that students have been studying the language since elementary school, the genre implied here could be defined as an informative report on Ghana. The text that students produce must include historical information, current demographics, description of geographical features, or a three-way comparison in which students report statistics and draw conclusions from their findings. A focus on genre and the functional grammar involved will help the teacher specify exactly the type of writing that students will need to do, transforming the underspecified “several paragraphs” into a clear description of the genre that students will need to produce for this culminating presentational task. In this way, the implied connection between the CCSS and the National Standards (2006).

Aligning Tasks According to Genre

To the extent possible, a genre-based pedagogy must make a clear link between the genre interpreted and the genre ultimately produced in the presentational task, as was the case in the description of landmarks unit. However, this explicit use of the same genre across communicative modes may not be possible in every unit. For example, in an instructional unit on immigration designed for a high school French class (Adair-Hauck et al., 2013), students interpreted an informational text on immigration and later produced a storybook or a documentary presentation that summarized the experience of an immigrant from the target language community whom the students interviewed. The interpretive and presentational tasks reflected slightly different genres—an informational text written for immigrants to Québec in the interpretive task and a historical recount retelling the experience of an immigrant in the presentational task. Genre theory, as it is operationalized in the genre-based interactive approach, and the associated instructional approaches to academic literacy (Derewianka, 1991; Martin & Rose, 2007; Rose & Acevedo, 2006; Rose & Martin, 2012; Rothery, 1989, 1996), suggests that the two distinct genres in this instructional unit—the informational text in the interpretive task and the historical recount in the presentational task—must be explicitly deconstructed during instruction. Should such deconstruction of two distinct genres be considered too complicated or time-consuming, another option would be to more closely align the two genres involved. For example, students could read an account of an arrival in Québec in the interpretive task and write a similar account in the presentational task. Alternatively, the tasks could be aligned to teach an informational genre. That is, students could first interpret informational data such as facts, statistics, dates, and events, or other kinds of information. Using these data, they could subsequently present information in a written account similar to the one they had previously read. This task could be contextualized with little difficulty in a scenario such as: “You are a historian and have received information on immigrants to X. Write an informative essay on the immigration of this group to X.” This explicit instruction in genre would make visible (Bernstein, 1996) for the students the ways of creating meaning within each type of text before students would be expected to fully interpret and produce the texts themselves.

Conclusion

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Background
  5. Developing a Genre-Based Interactive Model
  6. Implications of Genre Theory for the Profession
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References
  10. APPENDIX A
  11. APPENDIX B
  12. APPENDIX C
  13. Biography

The National Standards-Common Core Alignment (ACTFL, 2012) highlights a shared focus on the development of academic literacy skills across both the K–12 English language arts and the FL curricula. If the goals of the National Standards-Common Core Alignment are to be realized, new approaches to instruction need to be developed. To this point, the notion that the texts that students are expected to interpret and produce must be explicitly deconstructed has not been introduced into the professional dialogue in K–12 FL programs. Rather, discussions of “multiliteracies” for the development of advanced level proficiency (e.g., Byrnes et al., 2010; Paesani & Allen, 2012) have thus far been reserved for university-level FL programs. As this article has argued, the genre-based interactive model may allow teachers at all levels across the K–16 spectrum to help students better comprehend a variety of text types and to convey their thoughts in increasingly more sophisticated and nuanced ways.

Acknowledgments

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Background
  5. Developing a Genre-Based Interactive Model
  6. Implications of Genre Theory for the Profession
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References
  10. APPENDIX A
  11. APPENDIX B
  12. APPENDIX C
  13. Biography

I would like to thank Dr. Richard Donato, Dr. Eileen Glisan, Dr. Marcia Rosenbusch, and Dr. Patricia Crawford for their guidance, insights, and feedback on this work. In addition, I thank the anonymous reviewers for their feedback on earlier drafts of this article.

Notes
  1. 1

    It is important to note that other genre pedagogies have been developed and studied. The Sydney School genre theory was chosen for its focus on the ways in which language is used to make meaning and because it was developed in educational settings. Gebhard and Harman (2011) outlined a compelling case for genre in the K–12 educational context in the United States. See Tardy (2009) for a discussion of the various genre-based approaches and Richardson (1994) for an outline of some of the debate among genre scholars.

  2. 2

    For an example of engaging students in the activity to build field knowledge, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq2tr1ELNmw.

  3. 3

    Appendix B depicts the text's stages—the “highly predictable segments in each genre” described according to the specific language choices (predominant types of verbs, typical nouns) that are made in composing a given part (Rose, 2006, p. 187). The text was transferred onto a genre template (Appendix C), which the teacher used to deconstruct the text with the students throughout the genre-based interactive model. A full description of the unit exemplifying the genre-based interactive model is beyond the scope of this article. See Troyan (2013) for the entire instructional unit, including the explicit scripting for the teacher implementing instruction.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Background
  5. Developing a Genre-Based Interactive Model
  6. Implications of Genre Theory for the Profession
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References
  10. APPENDIX A
  11. APPENDIX B
  12. APPENDIX C
  13. Biography
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  • Koretz, D. M., & Hamilton, L. S. (2006). Testing for accountability in K-12. In R. L. Brennan (Ed.), Educational measurement (4th ed., pp. 531578). Westport, CT: American Council on Education/Praeger.
  • Martin, J. R. (1992). English text: System and structure. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • Martin, J. R. (2009). Genre and language learning: A social semiotic perspective. Linguistics and Education, 20, 1021.
  • Martin, J. R., & Rose, D. (2007). Interacting with text: The role of dialogue in learning to read and write. Foreign Languages in China, 4, 6680.
  • Martin, J. R., & Rose, D. (2008). Genre relations: Mapping culture. London: Equinox.
  • Martin, J. R., & Rothery, J. (1986). What a functional approach to the writing task can show teachers about “good writing.” In B. Couture (Ed.), Functional approaches to writing: Research perspectives (pp. 241265). London: Pinter.
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  • Rose, D. (2006). Reading genre: A new wave of analysis. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 2, 185204.
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  • Rose, D., & Martin, J. R. (2012). Learning to write, reading to learn: Genre, knowledge and pedagogy in the Sydney School. South Yorkshire, UK: Equinox.
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  • Tardy, C. M. (2009). Building genre knowledge. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press.
  • Troyan, F. J. (2013). Investigating a genre-based approach to writing in an elementary Spanish program (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Pittsburgh.
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APPENDIX A

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Background
  5. Developing a Genre-Based Interactive Model
  6. Implications of Genre Theory for the Profession
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References
  10. APPENDIX A
  11. APPENDIX B
  12. APPENDIX C
  13. Biography
Authentic Text

flan12068-gra-0001

Alcázar de Segovia

El Alcázar de Segovia se alza en la confluencia de los ríos Eresma y Clamores. Se cree que la fortificación existía ya desde la dominación romana. El edificio se divide en dos núcleos. El primero lo forma un patio herreriano con foso, el puente levadizo, la torre del homenaje y dos cubos circulares con chapiteles. El segundo es el interior y cuenta con una estupenda capilla y las salas nobles de la Galera, las Piñas y el Tocador de la Reina. Además, tiene cuatro pisos con buhardillas y amplios sótanos.

Destaca la sala de los Reyes que está decorada con un artesonado de hexágonos y rombos dorados y con un curioso friso con 52 imágenes policromadas y sedentes. En la sala del Trono, sobresale la cúpula mudéjar y las yeserías gótico-mudéjares. Sus paredes están recubiertas con terciopelo y con retratos de distintos reyes. La torre del homenaje fue edificada por Juan II en plena transición del románico al gótico. Mide 80 metros de altura y se encuentra decorada con excelentes esgrafiados y doce magníficas torrecillas. Se accede a través de un pasadizo. Destaca la torre de Alfonso X el Sabio, desde la cual el monarca estudiaba el firmamento, y las estupendas salas interiores decoradas con artesonados mudéjares y ricas yeserías.

Organiza tu visita

Dirección y teléfono

Plaza de la Reina Victoria Eugenia, s/n 40003 Segovia (Segovia)

Teléfono: +34 921460759

Horarios

Del 1 de abril al 30 de septiembre:

Horario ininterrumpido, de 10.00 a 19.00 h.

Del 1 de octubre al 31 de marzo:

De lunes a jueves, de 10:00 a 18:00 h.

Viernes, sábados y domingos, de 10.00 a 19.00 h.

Tarifas/Precios de las entradas

General: 3,50 €

Reducida: 2,30 € (grupos concertados, jubilados, mayores de 65 años, asociaciones y estudiantes)

Gratuito: (menores de 6 años y los martes para los ciudadanos de la UE)

Cerrado: 1 y 6 de enero, 25 de junio y 25 de diciembre. 24 y 31 de diciembre por la tarde.

Torre de Juan II: 1€.

APPENDIX B

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Background
  5. Developing a Genre-Based Interactive Model
  6. Implications of Genre Theory for the Profession
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References
  10. APPENDIX A
  11. APPENDIX B
  12. APPENDIX C
  13. Biography

The Instructional Text Divided Into Stages (Source: Troyan, 2013)

Título (Title)

Alcázar de Segovia

La Frase de Gancho (The Hook)

El Alcázar de Segovia se alza en la confluencia de los ríos Eresma y Clamores.

The Castle of Segovia rises up at the confluence of the Eresma and Clamores Rivers.

Dato Histórico (Historical Fact)

Se cree que la fortificación existía ya desde la dominación romana.

It is believed that the fortification has existed since the Roman Empire.

Datos Arquitectónicos (Architectural Facts)

Mapa del Edificio (Building Layout)

El edificio se divide en dos núcleos.

The building is divided into two nuclei.

El primero lo forma un patio herreriano con foso, el puente levadizo, la torre del homenaje y dos cubos circulares con chapiteles.

The first forms a Herrarian patio with a moat, a drawbridge, a tower keep, and two round turrets with spires.

El segundo es el interior y cuenta con una estupenda capilla y las salas nobles de la Galera, las Piñas y el Tocador de la Reina.

The second is the interior and has a fantastic chapel and several fine rooms, The Galley, las Piñas, and The Queen's Vanity Table.

Además, tiene cuatro pisos con buhardillas y amplios sótanos.

Furthermore, it has four floors with attics and spacious cellars.

Características Especiales (Special Features)

Destaca la sala de los Reyes que está decorada con un artesonado de hexágonos y rombos dorados y con un curioso friso con 52 imágenes policromadas y sedentes.

The Hall of Kings is distinguishable by its decorations of a coffered ceiling of golden hexagons and rhombuses and a curious freize of 52 polychromatic images of sitting people.

En la sala del Trono, sobresale la cúpula mudéjar y las yeserías gótico-mudéjares.

In the Throne Room the Mudejar dome and the Gothic-Mudejar plasterwork are prominent.Sus paredes están recubiertas con terciopelo y con retratos de distintos reyes.

Its walls are covered with velvet and portraits of different kings.

La torre del homenaje fue edificada por Juan II en plena transición del románico al gótico.

The tower keep was built for Juan II during the transition from Romanesque to Gothic.

Mide 80 metros de altura y se encuentra decorada con excelentes esgrafiados y doce magníficas torrecillas. Se accede a través de un pasadizo.

It measures 80 meters in height and is decorated with superb etchings and 12 magnificent turrets. It is accessed via a passageway.

Destaca la torre de Alfonso X el Sabio, desde la cual el monarca estudiaba el firmamento, y las estupendas salas interiores decoradas con artesonados mudéjares y ricas yeserías.

The Alfonso X The Knowledgeable Tower, from which the monarch used to study the heavens, and the marvelous interior rooms decorated with Mudejar coffered ceilings and rich plasterwork stand out.

Organiza tu visita (Plan your visit)

Dirección y teléfono

Address and Phone Contact Information

Plaza de la Reina Victoria Eugenia, s/n 40003 Segovia (Segovia)

Plaza de la Reina Victoria Eugenia, s/n 40003 Segovia (Segovia)

Teléfono: +34 921460759

Phone: +34 921460759

Horarios

Hours

Del 1 de abril al 30 de septiembre:

From April 1 to September 30:

Horario ininterrumpido, de 10.00 a 19.00 h.

Uninterupted Schedule, from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Del 1 de octubre al 31 de marzo:

From October 1 to March 31:

De lunes a jueves, de 10:00 a 18:00 h.

From Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Viernes, sábados y domingos, de 10.00 a 19.00 h.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Tarifas/Precios de las entradas

Entrance Fees

General: 3,50 €

General: 3.50 €

Reducida: 2,30 € (grupos concertados, jubilados, mayores de 65 años, asociaciones y estudiantes)

Reduced: 2.30 € (organized groups, retirees, older than 65, organizations, and students)

Gratuito: (menores de 6 años y los martes para los ciudadanos de la UE)

Free: (under 6 and Tuesday for EU residents)

Cerrado: 1 y 6 de enero, 25 de junio, y 25 de diciembre. 24 y 31 de diciembre por la tarde.

Closed: January 1st and 6th, June 25th, and December 25th. The afternoons of December 24th and 31st.

Torre de Juan II: 1€.

Juan II Tower: 1€.

APPENDIX C

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Background
  5. Developing a Genre-Based Interactive Model
  6. Implications of Genre Theory for the Profession
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References
  10. APPENDIX A
  11. APPENDIX B
  12. APPENDIX C
  13. Biography
Genre Template
TítuloAlcázar de Segovia
La Frase de Gancho flan12068-gra-0002El Alcázar de Segovia se alza en la confluencia de los ríos Eresma y Clamores.
Un Dato HistóricoSe cree que la fortificación existía ya desde la dominación romana.
Los Datos ArquitectónicosMapa Del EdificioEl edificio se divide en dos núcleos. El primero lo forma un patio herreriano con foso, el puente levadizo, la torre del homenaje y dos cubos circulares con chapiteles. El segundo es el interior y cuenta con una estupenda capilla y las salas nobles de la Galera, las Piñas y el Tocador de la Reina. Además, tiene cuatro pisos con buhardillas y amplios sótanos.
Características EspecialesDestaca la sala de los Reyes que está decorada con un artesonado de hexágonos y rombos dorados y con un curioso friso con 52 imágenes policromadas y sedentes. En la sala del Trono, sobresale la cúpula mudéjar y las yeserías gótico-mudéjares. Sus paredes están recubiertas con terciopelo y con retratos de distintos reyes. La torre del homenaje fue edificada por Juan II en plena transición del románico al gótico. Mide 80 metros de altura y se encuentra decorada con excelentes esgrafiados y doce magníficas torrecillas. Se accede a través de un pasadizo. Destaca la torre de Alfonso X el Sabio, desde la cual el monarca estudiaba el firmamento, y las estupendas salas interiores decoradas con artesonados mudéjares y ricas yeserías.
Organiza Tu VisitaDirección y teléfonoPlaza de la Reina Victoria Eugenia, s/n 40003 Segovia (Segovia)
Teléfono: +34 921460759
HorariosDel 1 de abril al 30 de septiembre:
Horario ininterrumpido, de 10.00 a 19.00 h.
Del 1 de octubre al 31 de marzo:
De lunes a jueves, de 10:00 a 18:00 h.
Viernes, sábados y domingos, de 10.00 a 19.00 h.
Tarifas/Precios de las entradasGeneral: 3,50 €
Reducida: 2,30 € (grupos concertados, jubilados, mayores de 65 años, asociaciones y estudiantes)
Gratuito: (menores de 6 años y los martes para los ciudadanos de la UE)
Cerrado: 1 y 6 de enero, 25 de junio y 25 de diciembre. 24 y 31 de diciembre por la tarde.
Torre de Juan II: 1€.

Biography

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Background
  5. Developing a Genre-Based Interactive Model
  6. Implications of Genre Theory for the Profession
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References
  10. APPENDIX A
  11. APPENDIX B
  12. APPENDIX C
  13. Biography
  • Francis J. Troyan (PhD, University of Pittsburgh) is Assistant Professor of Foreign and Second Language Education at The Ohio State University, Columbus.