The implementation of genre-based tasks in foreign language writing instruction : a longitudinal study of writers' rhetorical awareness, writing quality, and lexicogrammatical choices

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2012-08
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Yasuda, Sachiko
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2012]
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The present study aimed to document the ontogenetic development of Japanese EFL writers' rhetorical awareness, writing performances, and their lexicogrammatical choices as they engaged in carefully designed genre-based tasks over one academic year. The two-semester sequence of writing courses were designed based on the Systemic Functional Linguistic (SFL) perspective on genre learning (Martin & Rose, 2008). Instruction also integrated the genres into tasks (Byrnes, 2006) with the guidance from task-based language teaching (TBLT) principles (Norris, 2009). A total of 30 students divided into two different proficiency levels (15 in a higher proficiency group and 15 in a lower proficiency group) participated in the study. A triangulated inquiry was employed by gathering naturalistic data from intact classes: questionnaires, interviews, free writing, teacher-researcher field notes, and pre-instructional and post-instructional writing samples produced by the students at the two different periods of each semester. Findings showed that as the students engaged in the SFL-informed genre tasks, their concerns shifted to more genre-specific rhetorical issues that could accommodate the needs of the given context. The comparisons of their pre-and post-instructional writing tasks showed that enhanced rhetorical awareness affected their actual genre production in terms of their meaning-making language choices. However, proficiency effects were markedly observed in terms of how and to what degree they were able to elaborate grammatically sophisticated expressions to realize a genre. The results suggest that improved genre awareness might enable students to expand their language choices to some extent in a way that allows them to accommodate the genre demands, although their limited language proficiency might impede the expansion of meaning-making resources at a productive level. Explaining this phenomenon based on SFL theory, it can be argued that the ability to use more incongruent and metaphorical grammatical resources may appear at a later stage of a language learning process. Some pedagogical implications are discussed in terms of the interface between a genre-based approach to writing instructions and a task-based approach to language learning.
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Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
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genre-based tasks
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Second Language Acquisition.
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