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Developing genre awareness among young learners

Conference contribution
Authors Eva Olsson
Lotta Olvegård
Published in AAAL Conference Atlanta, USA 190310
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Swedish
Department of Education and Special Education
Language en
Keywords genre, young learners, multilingual, writing
Subject categories Pedagogy, Didactics, Languages and Literature, Educational Sciences

Abstract

In this pilot study, we explore how 8–9-year-old multilingual students in a Swedish primary school develop genre knowledge, when teaching is based on genre pedagogy (see e.g., Rose & Martin, 2012). As the school has a history of low school results, the teachers now take part in an in-service training program over three years, covering theories and methods related to genre pedagogy, with a focus on explicit writing instruction of various genres in all subjects. In the study, data collected from one class (N=20) during the first year of genre based instruction is analyzed. Data includes notes from classroom observations of lessons where two genres were in focus; instruction and narrative. Teacher material and student texts were collected. At the end of the year, interviews with focus groups of students were conducted and recorded, where students were asked to describe the genres and to comment on their own progress with regard to writing. The teacher was interviewed regularly throughout the year about her views on the progress of the students and the teaching methods used. In the analysis, based on Systemic Functional Linguistics (Halliday 2014; Martin & Rose 2008), we explore if and in what ways the foci of instruction are tracible in the students’ texts and in their statements. Preliminary results reveal that the students seem to appreciate and gain from the explicit and strongly scaffolded instruction. To some extent, given their young age, they are able to express basic genre awareness and to produce texts accordingly. The results of the pilot study may be of interest for a wider audience as many schools experience similar challenges as the one included in this study. Diverse language backgrounds among student populations often require teachers to develop new teaching methods and it is of great relevance to monitor the outcome.

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