Thursday, December 13, 2012

Genre learning and development: A Bakhtinian perspective

by Dr Honglin Chen


There has been a growing interest in genre as a powerful means of analysing and understanding texts in cross-disciplinary areas. Genres tend to be conceived as generic structures that constrain individuals and communicative events. In second language writing pedagogy, much attention has been given to raising ESL (English as a Second Language) students ’ structural awareness of genres as the route to genre development. Following from this pedagogical assumption, learning to write in a particular genre (e.g. academic genres) means learning the formal conventions associated with the genre. Drawing on Bakhtin’s conception of dialogic unity between inner genre and genre forms, this paper argues that while structural scaffolding may lead to greater schematic awareness of texts, genre development is a developmental process contingent upon students ’ epistemological beliefs (inner genre). This conception offers a new perspective on genre development and learning in a second language.

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