Genre-Porte.finalversion.7.07.doc - 1 Genre awareness for...

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Genre awareness for the novice academic student: an on-going quest Ann M. Johns, San Diego State University, United States This paper was presented as a plenary at the American Association of Applied Linguistics Conference, Costa Mesa, California, April 25, 2007 and was published in Language Teaching, 41 (2), 237-52, April, 2008. Abstract Genre, the most social constructivist of literacy concepts, has been theorized and variously applied to pedagogies by three major ‘schools:’ the New Rhetoric, English for Specific Purposes, and Systemic Functional Linguistics. In this paper, I will discuss my long, and on-going, search for a pedagogy drawn from genre theories for novice academic students. With others, I am trying to find or develop an approach that is coherent and accessible to students while still promoting rhetorical flexibility and genre awareness. I will first define and problematize the term GENRE. Then, I will briefly discuss what each of three genre ‘schools’ can offer to novice students---as well as their pedagogical short-comings. Finally, I suggest two promising approaches to teaching genre awareness: learning communities and ‘macro-genres.’ 1. Introduction This is a story of an on-going search for a genre-based, social constructivist pedagogy for novice academic classrooms, an effort that has preoccupied me, and others, for more than twenty years. Because we still have not found satisfactory answers, the search continues. It is an important search, particularly as the interest in academic literacies increases throughout the world. The issues that surround it are central, not only to academic literacy but to broader questions such as the following: What is communicative 1 1
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competence and how can we authenticate that competence in our classrooms? How can we promote transfer of learning from our classrooms to the contexts in which students will be using the language? How can we relate the current focus on grammatical form to the variability of language in communicative contexts? Thus, what I discuss here should be seen as relevant to much of what is important to today’s second/foreign language classrooms. Since the 1980s, my research has focused upon novice academic literacies; and, more specifically, on the relationships between academic literacies and genre theory. A few years ago, when I felt I was sufficiently theoretically mature, I devoted five years to the development of a genre-based textbook for first year university students---and I failed miserably in the effort. I have been more successful in developing literacy curricula for secondary students designed to prepare them for university study (Johns 2007). However, all of this work has NOT resulted in a genre-based pedagogy that is, in my view, satisfactory for the novice tertiary student, relatively new to college or university, and naïve about academic languages, texts, and cultures. Thus, the search continues.
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  • Winter '18
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