The Place Of Genre In Eap

The Place Of Genre In Eap

The Place of Genre in EAP


In this paper, I will draw on the literature of genre to show how the concept of genre can inform the teaching of English for academic purposes, so I will discus the effective of genre in improving learning English language in SFL and ESL classrooms. Thus, my discussion will cover four areas in regarding to the genre which are: what is genre? Genre in three tradition approaches, Genre Based pedagogies and advantages of genre-based instruction. Therefore, I will depend mainly on some researchers’ articles in this field for example, Sunny Hyon (1996), Ken Hyland (2002), Ken Hyland (2004) and Frances Chritsie (2008).

What is Genre?

Since genre has a significant Impact in improving learning English language in SFL and ESL classrooms and understanding the different contexts, It has gained a wide concern by many researchers. Each one of these researchers has defined genre depending into his experience, so the definition of genre are different according to each one. For example, Christie (2008) claims that genre is “itself an institution, for it is a socially sanctioned means of constructing and negotiating meanings, functioning so that it mediates the operation of other social instructions, taking its place in the complex interconnecting series of activities and events that constitute social life” (p. 29), Christie explains that the best way to understand genre is as institutional in character, and part of the structure of social life. According to Cope and Kalantzis (1993) genre is “a way of classifying texts into kinds of types, because of perceived similarities – characteristics or conventions that these texts share” (p. 109), so genre for them enables a number of different but related perspective on texts to be improved and matched. Whereas Hyland (2004) defined genre as “a term for grouping texts together, representing how writers typically use language to respond to recurring situations” (p. 4), so the learner can benefit from the text he or she already read before, to expect what the new text is about. Todorov (1984, p. 80) cited in Cope and Kalantzis (1993) writes of bakhtin’s theory that genre is “a sociohistorical as well as a formal entity” (p.109), thus the changes in genre must be considered in relation to social changes. Consequently, all these researchers have defined genre in different way, but all these definitions have shared that genre is a structure which enable the learner to understand the text in terms of the social context.

Genre in three traditions

Genre is a term that is used in three theories, so in this part of the paper, I will draw an over view about the three tradition theories of genre which are, Systemic functional Linguistics (SFL), English for special Purposes (ESP) and New Rhetoric.

Systemic functional Linguistics (SFL)

According to Christie (2008) SFL Originally associated with Halliday (1974). Hyon (1996) argues that SFL has found in Australia and it influenced language theory and education in Australia and Hyland (2002) claims that SFL known in the United States as ‘Sydney School’. Christie (2008) claims that Halliday was defined language “as a social semiotic, powerfully involved in the construction of social experience” (p. 30). Hyland (2002) argues that SFL has stressed the significant of the social uses of genres and of describing the rhetorical structures that have changed to serve these uses (p. 115). According to Hyon (1996) SFL is interested in “the relationship between language and its functions in social setting” (p. 696). and as a reflecting to the halliday’s interest, Martin, Christie and Rothery (1987) defined genre in SFL as “staged, goal-oriented social processes, structural forms that cultures use in certain contexts to achieve various purposes” (p. 697). Thus Hyon claims that by analyzing these social processes, the SFL researchers have differed from ESP and New Rhetoric researchers, because the SFL researchers have concerned on primary and secondary school genres not on University texts. According to Martin & Rose (2008) genre in SFL is “recurrent configuration of meanings and that these recurrent configurations of meaning enact the social practices of a given culture” (p. 5). They mean that we should find the relations between genres, more than deal with genres as individual. Whereas, Hood (in her forthcoming book) argues that Martin & Rose perspective about genre in SFL “differs from the pragmatic perspective” (p. 44). For her, the primary difference “is the question of the relation of meaning and language”, so she claims that “in SFL this relation is theorized rather than intuited” (p. 44). Hood explains that since “language is modeled as meaning-making systems of choice, so to the extend that genre are entranced in language, analyses of genres proceed from an exploration of the meaning potentials realized in language choice in instance of discourse” (p.44). The SFL genre as a staged it is concentrated, in one hand on the purposeful, interactive and sequential character of deferent genres, and in the other hand on the ways that language is systematically connected to context (Hyland, 2002, p. 115). According to Hood (in her forthcoming Book), SFL theory presents a better potential for relating language options to meaning than the pragmatic interpretations of syntax do. She argues that SFL theory covers a meta-functional perspective on meaning, which enabling a consideration of the method genres clarifies from three perspectives: as shifts in field, as shift in tenor and as shift in mode. So this supplies us with a more affluent image “of the structuring of texts than systematic fusing of these perspectives in the singular construct of move” (p. 44).

English for special Purposes (ESP)

Hyland (2002) suggests that ESP uses Bakhtinian notions of intertextuality and dialogism and portrays deeply on systemic functional understandings of text structure depending on Vogotskian principles of pedagogy (p. 115). Hyon (1996) argues that many scholars in ESP have been concerned in genre, since it serves as an instrument in teaching writing and speaking skills for nonnative speakers in academic and professional situations, so they have divided genres to oral and written text sorts, each one determined by its formal properties and its communicative purposes within social contexts. Thus according to Hyon the researchers in ESP have concentrated on detailing the formal characteristics of genres more than the particular functions of texts and their close social contexts (p. 695). Hyland (2002) argues that, ESP might be considered as an application of SFL, since it concentrate on communicative purpose and the formal properties of texts; despite it does not have a systemic model of language, and does not make extensive use of a stratified, meta-functional grammar. So Hyland claims that genre in this context includes a group of structured communicative events working by particular discourse communities where their members participate in wide communicative purposes (p. 115). Christie (2008) claims that Swales and other scholars were interested in ESP, so they have developed their theories in genres according to their interest (p. 30). Swales (19811986, 1990a) cited in Hyon (1996, p. 695), describes genre in ESP as “communicative events” that are characterized both by their “communicative purposes” and by various patterns of “structure, style, content and intended audience”. According to Christie (2008) Swales concerned in genres was essentially in written texts and academic essays, since they are significant for nonnative learner who is learning English as a second language. Christie claims that Swales in his all discussions of genres has declared that “his approach was eclectic, and informed by a number of traditions of scholarship, not all of them linguistic”, so he usually highlights that the significant of the social context in addressing text types. But at the same time, Swales “does not adopt an all embracing theory of language and social experience like Halliday’s” (p. 30).

New Rhetoric

New Rhetoric arose by North Americans scholars, who were working within a rhetorical tradition and influenced by their work in universities and first language composition (Hyland, 2002). Hyland argues that New Rhetoric approach was presented in many works, for example miller’s paper (1984), Bazerman (1988), freedman and Medway (1994) and Berkenkotter and Huckin (1995) (p. 114), but According to Christie (2008) Miller’s paper (1984) was very significant as a base that New Rhetoric approach has drawn on, since she was arguing in her paper the significance of considering genre as ‘social action’ (p. 30). According to New Rhetoric approach genre is “a socially standard strategy, embodied in a typical form of discourse that has evolved for responding to a recurring type of rhetorical situation” (Coe & Freedman, 1998, p. 137, cited in Hyland 2002, p. 114). Christie (2002) argues that, although she did so like the other genre theorists, Miller (1984) refused to classify genres in any final way, even if they are unstable, because for her, genres were both spoken and written or prestigious and non-prestigious, were all deserve of study for their role in facilitating social action(p. 30). Hyon (1996) claims that the researchers in New Rhetoric approach in one hand, they have concentrated more on the situational contexts in which genres take place than on their forms, and in the other hand they have placed particular concentrations on the social purposes or actions, where these genres fulfill within these situations. On the other hand, Hyon argues that the researchers in New Rhetoric approach, in addition to their focus on the functional and contextual concepts of genres, they have used ethnographic rather than linguistics methods to analyze texts, by presenting broad descriptions of academic and professional contexts close to genres, and the actions texts present within these circumstances. Hyon presents some scholars used ethnographic approach to study genre in different contexts, for example Schryer (1993) she studied genre in medical records, so she used a diversity of ethnographic methods to explore the purposes of the record within the medical collage and the attitudes of clinicians and scholars toward this genre. Also Bazerman (1988) studied genre in scientific research communities, Devitt (1991) studied genre in tax accounting firms and Smart (1992, 1993) studied genre in bank offices (pp. 695- 696). In contrast, Hyland (2002) claims that New Rhetoric Approach “has not tended to address itself in the classroom, generally regarding it as an inauthentic environment lacking the conditions for complex negotiation and multiple audiences” (p. 114).

Genre Based pedagogies

In all pedagogy stages the use of clear knowledge about different genres and their stages, and also as much information about the understanding of stages, becomes part of the experience shared by teachers and students (Martin, 1999).

According to Hyland (2003) genre-based pedagogies “support learners within a contextual framework for writing which foregrounds the meanings and text-types at stake in a situation” and it presents to the students a clear and systematic explanation of the ways language functions in social contexts (pp. 25- 26). Hyland (2004) claims that as a response to process pedagogies and as a result of communicative method and our growing understanding of literacy, genre pedagogies have emerged in second language writing classes. According to Hyland genre-based pedagogies depend on the idea that community is the resources of the ways of writing which create the social relationships, so they are not personal expressions (pp. 4- 7). Hyon (1996) argues that the researchers in ESP, English for academic purposes (EAP) and English for professional communication (EPC) have planned that genre-based pedagogies enable the nonnative learner of English language master the functions and linguistics principles of texts which they need to read and write in their disciplines and occupation, So researchers always concentrate in teaching genre structure and grammatical features. By examining scientific genres, scholars in ESP claims that their analyses present pedagogically significant information which enable the learners master the organizational and stylistic characteristics of these texts (p. 698). On the contrary, scholars represent New Rhetoric approach, concerned with the capability of genre in helping university students and beginner professionals understand the social functions or actions of genres and the contexts in which these genres are used, more than teaching text form, for example Bazerman suggests that the aim of writing pedagogy is not only giving the learners a formal trappings of the genres which they have to work in, but to encourage them understanding of all of life aspects alive in texts, because he considered the knowledge of social context which is near to the text, is a fundamental to the writers, since it is helping them to choose the rhetoric that is suitable for their situations (pp. 698- 699). On the other hand, the researchers in SFL have differed from both ESP and New Rhetoric researchers, because for the SFL researchers, genre-based instruction has concentrated essentially in child and adolescent contexts and recently in adult migrant English education and workplace training programs. Thus, genre-based instruction started in Sydney school as “an educational experiment”, so while researchers examined the types of writing primary school students, students were producing gradually, process writing classrooms (pp. 699- 700). To sum up,

“Genre is a socially informed theory of language offering an authoritative pedagogy grounded in research on texts and contexts, strongly committed to empowering students to participate effectively in target situations. Genre pedagogy is buttressed by the belief that learning is best accomplished through explicit awareness of language, rather than through experiment and exploration, but this does not mean replacing communicative practices with teacher-centred ones” (Hyland, 2003, p. 27).

Advantages of genre-based instruction

The significant advantage of a genre-based pedagogy is that concentrating the concept of genre in writing presents linguistic skills, self-expression and rhetorical awareness (Bevan, G & Matsuo, C. 2002). According to Bevan and matsuo genre-based pedagogy represents a tendency to communication skills not fixed language form, because recurring language forms are only the surface expressions of communicative strategies. Also For them, It is encourages a development in second language writer of the embedded knowledge that first language learners already have. For Hyland (2004) the advantages of genre-based instruction are:

Genre-based teaching provides the writers with clear understanding about how the texts are planned and why they are written in the way they are, and this understanding that writers received changes writing instruction from the embedded to a conscious manipulation of language (p. 11).

Genre-based teaching is systematically addresses texts and contexts, so that students can observe how different texts are formed in different and familiar way in terms of their aim, audience and message (p. 12).
Genre-based teaching is based on writer needs, so it provides a principled way to define the content of a writing course, by providing the available choices to the learners in the texts they want to write (p.12).
Genre-based teaching is supportive, because it supply support for writers while they progressively improve manage of a genre, and at the same time it is significant for any student who is looking to increase his skills to write a new genre (p. 13)
Genre-based teaching is empowering, since it provides the learner with potential which enables him to recognize the meaning which used in the English speaking society, because second language learner usually lack knowledge in the patterns and differences within the text (p. 14).
Genre-based teaching assist teacher development, as it represents “teachers into considering how texts actually work as communication. Knowledge of genres has an important consciousness-raising potential for teacher, with significant implications for both their understanding of writing and their professional development” (p. 15).


In this paper, I have drawn on the literature of genre to show how the concept of genre can inform the teaching of English for academic purposes, and the effective of genre in improving learning English language in SFL and ESL classrooms. In brief, I have found that, although the three theories of genre seem different, but all of them are seeking essentially to develop and improve L2 learners’ skills in English language specially reading and writing skills. Also they are providing teachers with a successful pedagogical framework which enable teachers to instruct their student in a way suit the students’ abilities and interests.


Bevan, G & Matsuo, C. 2002, Two Approaches to Genre-Based Writing Instruction: A Comparative Study, Japan Association for language teaching national conference, Japan, viewed 14 November 2009,

Christie, F. 2008, ‘Genres and institutions: Functional Perspectives On Educational Discourse’, in M. Martin-Jones,M. de Majia and N. H.

Hornberger (eds) Encyclopedia of Language and Education, 2nd Edition, Vol.3: Discourse and Education, pp.29-40.

Cope, B & Kalantzis, M. 1993, The power of literacy: a genre approach to teaching writing, Google Book, viewed 7 November 2009,

Hood, S. In press. Establishing a warrant for research, Appraising Research: evaluation in academic writing. London: Palgrave Macmillan, viewed 11 November 2009, Chapter 2 ss.doc

Hyland, k. 2002, ‘Annual Review of Applied Linguistics’, USA, Cambridge University Press 22, 113-135.

Hyland, K. 2003, Genre-based pedagogies: A social response to process, Journal of second language writing, Vol. 12, 17- 29, viewed 13 November 2009,

Hyland, K. 2004, Genre And Second Language Writing, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press.

Hyon,S. 1996 , ‘Genre in three traditions: implications for ESL’ , TESOL quarterly pp.692-791.

Martin, J.R. 1999, ‘Mentoring semogenesis: ‘genre-based’ literacy pedagogy’. In F Christie Pedagogy and the shaping of consciousness (ed): “Linguistics and social processes”, London: Continuum

Martin, J.& Rose, D. 2008, “Getting going with genre” from: Genre relations: mapping Culture, London: Equinox.