A Process Genre Model for
by Guo Yan
Teaching writing requires the teacher to determine which aspects of the writing work to give importance while evaluating it, how to treat different steps in the writing process, etc. When we say writing, we mean spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, genre, organization, structure, content and format. (Content includes lots of things such as minor ideas, major ideas, quotations, meaning, grammar, etc.) While evaluating a writing, the teacher should take into consideration all of the topics and should determine the importance to be given to each component. These all require the adaptation of different approaches by the teacher in order to deal with the ‘decision dilemma.’ In 1970s, product-oriented approach was adopted Then, process-oriented approach and then genre approach. For a writing instructor who wants to be efficient in his job, it is very important to know rationale behind each of the approach. This article states descriptions of different approaches towards writing. Then, it mentions about a recent research which claims that taking required/essential features of two approaches together and forming a new approach.
The article states that writing is a big challenge for the teachers and the students of English as a Foreign Language. This is absolutely true in the sense that writing is a more demanding skill compared to other skills. While writing, the learners/students have to consider the spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, genre, organization, structure, format, and content of the writing task. As they are foreign language learners, writing in a language whose has more or less different linguistic features is difficult for them. They all have to recognize and understand the differences.
This is a fact that writing has not the desired place in the education until recently. It has been seen as a tool used in exams to measure the knowledge of the students. Such kind of a view leads the students to misunderstand the writing skill. As a result, students build a negative attitude towards writing. That is because; writing becomes a way of taking grade after completing their products. Such kinds of products are away from being contextualized, they are artificial. It is possible to improve the teaching of this skill. Three approaches –product-oriented, process -oriented and interactive mode –have been used. Nevertheless, this is a fact that each of them has deficits as well as successful sides.
When concentrating on product in the writing, we are only interested in the aim of a task and in the end product. Rather than writing itself, the construction of the end-product is the main focus in the product approach to the writing. The criteria used to evaluate the written work are spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, genre, organization, structure, content and format, etc. The procedure is very clear: giving the writing task, collecting it, and then giving it to the students again after correcting or marking it. At this point, another advantage of this kind of approach arises: demotivating students by always correcting and returning the work to the student again. This approach looks for a perfect product; it does not give importance to the writing process itself. By doing so, it ignores the real life condition and ignores the fact that we cannot expect every student to come up with a perfect product at the end of the first draft. In spite of all these, it is useful in the sense that every time, there will be a final version of the written product to be analyzed in terms of grammar spelling, punctuation, etc.
Process approach pays attention to the various stages that any piece of writing goes through. There are four stages applied to the writing by this approach: prewriting, composing/drafting, revising, and editing. By spending time with the learners on these sages, a process approach aims to use the skills that most writers employ. In other words, the process approach asks the students to consider the procedure of putting together a good piece of work. The correction of spelling, punctuation is not the focus, but the revision and feedback are the most important elements of process approach. It should be like that because when we think about a real writer, he/she may return the draft of his/her work after and after again in order to create a perfect thing. Considering this, all these stages (i.e. prewriting, composing/drafting, revising, and editing) are done in a recursive way. In the classroom, we have drawn a chart telling this perfectly. It was like this:
FINAL VERSION EDITING
As this approach leads the brainstorming, previewing the ideas, it makes the writing task/act meaningful for the learners. This is true in the sense that the learner/students are able to make a connection between the topic and what they are doing easily. As a result, they can understand the rationale behind the activity they are doing. Schemata are important to recall the previous knowledge or related concepts in the minds of the students. As students may not be successful enough to recall, trigger the schemata, the teacher acts as a very important element.
Nevertheless, there are some deficit aspects of the process approach as well. The article is right in the statement that no matter what is being written and who writes it, the process approach regards all the writers as the same. Nonetheless, this is not true. We are always mentioning the importance of the individual differences of the students and respecting these differences. According to the personal characteristics, likes, dislikes and the abilities of the students, we should adapt our approach and support for them. The second deficit that I mention away from the article is that the process approach takes time. Time to brainstorm the ideas, collect them in some other way; time to draft a piece of writing and then, with the teacher’s help, review it and edit it, perhaps changing the focus, generating new ideas, re-drafting, re-editing and so on. Not all the students see it as a good thing. Many of them find it difficult to give enough time to the process and would rather finish it straight away. And also, here are times when process writing is not appropriate, either because classroom time is limited or because we want students to write quickly as art of a communication game. However, these cannot prevent us from explaining the process to our students and encouraging them to plan, draft, re-draft, re-plan, etc.
The genre approach, which realized in 1980s, is another approach to the writing. This approach states that writing occurs in a social situation and earning can happen consciously through imitation and analysis, which facilitates explicit instruction. The focus of this approach is that if students are exposed to different genres, they can write better. As different genres have different forms, structure, organization rules, students who come across each of these can benefit from them. This genre approach can be useful especially in the classes which focus on academic writing. Because, seeing the model of each genre will definitely help students to form their writing and have a concrete idea about according to which rules they have to write.
As it is mentioned in the article, according to Cope and Kalantzis (1993), the genre approach to writing consists of three phases: (1) the target genre is modeled for the students, (2) a text is jointly constructed by the teacher and students, and (3) a text is independently constructed by each student. Nevertheless, it is a fact that genre approach has deficits. Students who are writing a certain genre need to consider a number of different factors. They need to have the knowledge of the topic, the conversation and style of the genre. And also they should know by whom their writing will be read. Many of the students’ writing tasks do not have audience other than the teacher. Also, asking students to imitate given style may be regarded as extremely prescriptive. That is because; we encourage them to see writing as a form of ‘reproduction’ rather than as a creative activity. In order to avoid that, in the situations in which students are to have a real knowledge of a genre, we as teachers should let them to see many different examples from the same genre. This means that they will be able to choose from the variety of features. Nevertheless, in lower levels, this might not be useful, so imitation may be useful in first stage in order to increase the adherence of the students to the genre rules. Later, with exposure to the different examples of the genre, they can give the decision about what to do.
Today, it is believed that we do not have to be stick to one approach in writing classrooms. Following this idea, the combination of process approach and genre model has been proposed by Badger and White (2000). This approach lets the students to study the relationship between the purpose and form for a particular genre. While doing so, they also use the recursive processes of prewriting, drafting, revision, and editing. As a result, students develop students’ awareness of different text types and of the composing process.
In the classroom, when teachers use process genre approach, they should assist, guide, encourage to the students. They should give beneficial feedback and suggestions. Arising the curiosity of the students about the writing work or taking into consideration the individual difference of each students are the other things that the teacher should do in writing classrooms. Also, the training of the teacher to the students about the writing strategies is very important. By doing so, the teacher gives the students ideas about the formation of the strategies. Another significant point is that teacher should be careful about the integration of the four macro skills in writing classroom. So that, the overall language competence of the students can increase.
Preparation, preparing the students to write by defining a situation that will require a written text, modeling and reinforcing, introducing a model of the genre and lets students consider the social purpose of the text (including who the audience will be), planning, activities activate the students’ schemata about the topic, including brainstorming, discussing, and reading associated material, joint constructing, working together with the students to begin writing a text by using the writing processes of brainstorming, drafting, and revising independent constructing, examining model texts and making students construct a text in the genre, and revising, making the drafts of the students to undergo final revision and editing, are the steps of the teaching procedure for the process genre.
As it can be understood, there have been different approaches offered to use in writing classrooms. Each of them has its own deficits and good sides. Nevertheless, with the realization of the process genre approach, writing tasks are related strongly to real-life situations, motivating students and preparing them to write for audiences outside the classroom.