“Pupil need to understand that writing is a purposeful social activity. It
occurs in a social context and responds to social issues”
Explain briefly how you would incorporate ideas from these three approaches to teaching writing in order to address issues raised in the quotation above; Genre theory, writing as a process and writing as a product. By doing the following;
(a) Construct a suitable question on the following topic for Grade ten;
Topic: ‘The importance of traditional Ceremony in Zambia’.
(b) Explain the stages of teaching the lesson and give brief reasons for including such a stage.
INTRODUCING A LESSON WHICH SHOULD INCORPERATE GENRE THEORY, WRITING AS A PROCESSS AND WRITING AS A PRODUCT IN A ZAMBIAN LANGUAGE: THE CASE OF TUMBUKA.
Without any arguments, writing is a complicated and tiresome skill. It is different from the spoken language which is naturally acquired from the environment in which humans are brought. Writing is complicated and tiresome because it involves cognitive skills, psycholinguistic, psychomotor, social cultural and affective variables. Writers are predisposed to a number of vast knowledge expressed in terms of the content knowledge of what they are writing about, the context knowledge with regard to the social context of what they are writing about, a good writer must have a good command of the language system to expres the various social functions in which he or she is writing about bearing in mind that writing is expressing language in a graphic form by means of letters inscribed on paper and finally even the writing system knowledge is required for a writer, Tribble (1996:43). The discussion in this paper will incorporate the three approaches; genre theory, writing as a process and writing as a product. Firstly, the paper will discuss the three approaches in detail. Secondly, it will manifest an introductory lesson incorporating the three approaches in Tumbuka language with the glosses in English and finally, give the conclusion.
2.0 UNDERTANDING THE THREE APPROACHES IN DETAIL.
The three approaches are closely related in the sense that they involve similar stages as shown in the proceeding lines below.
2.1 THE GENRE THEORY APPROACH
The word genre comes from the French (and originally Latin) word for ‘kind’, type or ‘class’. The term is widely used in rhetoric, literary theory to refer to poetry, fiction and drama. It could also refer to more specific types of literature such a comedy, tragedy epic poetry or science fiction. More recently, the meaning has been extended to modern linguistics, to refer to a distinctive type of text such as letters, articles, academic essays, prayer and speeches. ‘A genre is ultimately an abstract conception rather than something that exists empirically in the world,’ notes Jane Feuer (1992, 144). One theorist’ genre may be another’s sub-genre or even super-genre (and indeed what is technique, style, mode, formula or thematic grouping to one may be treated as a genre by another). Themes, at least, seem inadequate as a basis for defining genres since, as David Bordwell notes, ‘any theme may appear in any genre’ (Bordwell 1989, 147).
2.1.1 FEATURES OF THE GENRE THEORY APPROACH
(i) Pupils work in pairs and are given a selection of real life non-fiction genre text to work on.
(ii) Before they start any work on the given genre text, the teacher must guide them on how to go about it. He must stress that genre theory’s emphasis on modelling and explicitness is useful if regarded as a strategy to expose the rules of the academic game, the genre conventions and he must provide a model for that.
(iii) The activity require them to consider language features and genre text form and type with its characteristics.
(iv) Learners must know how the genre text type is organised as per convention in relation to purpose and audience.
(v) The genre must empower pupils at an ideological as well as material level.
(vi) Genre theory is a “staged, goal-oriented social process with text type at the class level” (Martin 1993: 121), The pedagogy of “modelling” and “joint negotiation of text”, which unproblematically puts forth genres as strict sets of conventions, used by “the experts”, effectively denies learners an opportunity to write against the grain in the third phase of Martin’s pedagogy: the so-called “independent construction of text” (Martin 1993: 116). There is little room for independence, though, when genre is constructed as an unalterable norm.
2.2 WRITING AS A PROCESS APPROACH
It is clear that the Process approaches to writing focus more on the varied classroom activities which promote the development of language use with some linguistic skills. It involves planning, drafting, revising and editing. Brainstorming, group discussion, re-writing and others are part of this process. Such an approach can have any number of stages, though a typical sequence of activities could proceed as follows;
2.2.1 FEATURES OF WRITING AS A PROES APPROACH
Different scholars have outlined different features of which some of them are closely related.
(i) Generating ideas by brainstorming and discussion.
(ii) Pupils extend ideas into note form, and judge quality and usefulness of ideas.
(iii) Features 1, 2 and 3 are part of planning a general stage. Students organise ideas into a mind map, spidergram, or linear form. This stage helps to make the (hierarchical) relationship of ideas more immediately obvious, which helps students with the structure of their texts.
(iv) Students write the first draft. This is done in class and frequently in pairs or groups.
(v) Drafts are exchanged, so that students become the readers of each others work. By responding as readers, students develop an awareness of the fact that a writer is producing something to be read by someone else, and thus can improve their own drafts.
(vi) Drafts are returned and improvements are made based upon peer feedback.
(vii) Stages iv, v, vi and vii are basically revising and editing stages whih recursive and interactive until the final draft is written.
(viii) Students once again, exchange and read each others’ work and perhaps even write a response or reply.
2.3 WRITING AS A PRODUCT APPROACH
This is the oldest and commonest way in which language is taught.This is a traditional approach, in which students are encouraged to mimic a model text, which is usually presented and analysed at an early stage. Teachers here are more concerned with the end product. They pay attention to pupil’s linguistic knowledge, organisation of the text ideas, paragraphing, and generally awareness of the rules of writing a particular text. There is too much emphasis on form rather than function of the text. A model for such an approach is outlined below as features according to Kress (1993):
(i) Model texts are read, and then features of the genre are highlighted. For example, if studying a formal letter, students’ attention may be drawn to the importance of paragraphing and the language used to make formal requests. (ii) This consists of controlled practice of the highlighted features, usually in isolation. So if students are studying a formal letter, they may be asked to practise the language used to make formal requests, practising the ‘I would be grateful if you would…’ structure.
(iii) Organisation of ideas. This stage is very important. Those who favour this approach believe that the organisation of ideas is more important than the ideas themselves and as important as the control of language.
(iv) The end result of the learning process. Students choose from a choice of comparable writing tasks. Individually, they use the skills, structures and vocabulary they have been taught to produce the product; to show what they can do as fluent and competent users of the language.
3.o COMPOSITION OF AN INTRODUCTORY LESSON INCORPERATING THE THREE APPROACHES
3.1 Construct a suitable question on the topic: the importance of traditional ceremony in Zambia.
Situation (The teacher give this situation in Tumbuka language and a gloss in English).
Upulikizga ku cilimba uko bakuyowoya za uwemi wa kusangalala kwa vya maufumu yithu mu Zambia. Ndipo suzgo ndakuti, banthu woti vyamaufumu niviwemi yayi cifukwa vukuzga mphambano za vitundu na mitundu mu Chalo. Ndipo banyakhe bakuti yayi niviwemi cifukwa vutukuzga vitundu vinthu na ukhalilo withu. Lembani kalata kwa bakulu ba sukulu kubamanyiska zauwemi wa vya maufumu Mu Zambia. ‘You are listening to a radio station where they are discussing seriously the status of traditional ceremony in Zambia. The arguments are that traditional ceremonies are not important because they promote tribalism and linguistic divisions in Zambia while others argue that traditional ceremonies are very important because they give a sense of belonging and alongside promote local culture and indigenous languages. Write a letter to the head of the school informing him about the importance of traditional ceremony in Zambia.
3.2.0 Explain the stages for teaching the lesson and give reasons for including such a stage. These explanations on stages would be presented in Tumbuka language with a gloss in the English language.
3.2.1 Stage one; Good discussion of the topic on how to go about the formal letter.
This stage is very important because the teacher discusses the topic with the pupils and help them on how they are suppose to go about by discussing the structure of a formal letter like the nature of address, type of salutation, main body, and the ending. However, the teacher can also provide a model and highlight features in it. Teacher can also put emphasis on a number of things like the type of language used to make a formal request. Paragraphing and organization of ideas can also be emphasized. This is also the prewriting stage where there is brainstorming of ideas by the teacher. The teacher may even put the pupils in groups to discus what they expect to find in the letter and then later come in to stress some important issues which might have been left out. On the other hand, pupils are taking notes and to some extent planning by organizing and selection of relevant ideas.
3.2.2 Stage two; Organization of ideas and Rough Drafting
This stage is very important because organization of ideas is more important than the ideas themselves and it is as important as the control of language itself. Before coming up with the final product, students would have organized their works in a coherent manner and this must be done individually. To some extent, pupil may even exchange books in response as readers, students develop an awareness of the fact that a writer is producing something to be read by someone else, and thus can improve their own drafts based on the feedback from the different colleagues in class.
3.2.3 Stage three: Revising and editing
This stage is vital in the sense that, after their friends pass through their works in stage three, they can make correction by revising their writings. This will also make pupils come up with a better product or publication submission.
3.2.4 Stage four; Publication.
This is where there is presentation of the final product. The evaluation process and any other consideration can basically come here.
Teaching writing is not an easy task. It calls for seriousenes and commitment on the part of the teaher and also depend on the student being handled. There are several ways to approach writing in the classroom. However, It should be mentioned that there is no necessarily any ‘right’ or ‘best’ way to teach writing skills. The best practice in any situation will depend on the type of student, the text type being studied, the school system and many other factors. The approach that you decide to use will depend on you, the teacher, and on the students, and the genre of the text. Certain genres lend themselves more favourably to one approach more than the other. Formal letters, for example, in which the features are very fixed, would be perhaps more suited to a product driven approach, in which focus on the layout, style, organisation and grammar could greatly help students in dealing with this type of writing task.
Cope, B and Kalantzis, M (1993). The Power of Literacy and the Literacy of Power The Powers of Literacy Cope and Kalantzis (eds) London: Falmer Press.
Kress, G. (1987). Genre in a Social theory of language: a reply to John Dixon in Reid (ed).
Kress, G. (1993). Genre as Social Process The Powers of writing. Londo: Bourdex
Martin, J.R. Christie, F. and Rothery, J. (1987) Social Processes in Education: A Reply to Sawyer and Watson in Reid (ed).
Martin, J.R. (1993). A Contextual theory of language.The Powers of Literacy Cope and Kalantzis (eds) London: Falmer Press