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FLLT Proceedings
  Genre-based Instruction: Its Effect on Students’ News Article Jeneifer C. Nueva , Central Mindanao University, Philippines Abstract This study aims to evaluate the efficacy of genre-based instruction (GBI). Specifically, it seeks to identify common writing problems found in students’ news  article ; evaluate students’ writing performance level before and after the genre-based intervention; and determine the significant difference between students’  performance in the pre- and post-tests. Findings reveal that in the pre-test, more than 50% of the 40 respondents committed errors on verb tense, voice, conciseness, and text structure while 39% or less committed errors in the post-test ; students’  proficiency level in terms of content, accuracy, fluency, appropriateness, and intelligibility significantly increased after the genre-based intervention; and there was a significant difference  between the performance of the students in the pre- and post-tests with a mean of 4.35 and a standard deviation of 1.73. Errors committed by the respondents were attributed to their lack of knowledge of the news article conventions; and GBI did not only improve the proficiency level of the respondents, but it also effectively heightened their awareness on how the news article is structured. Keywords : Genre-based instruction, writing, news report Introduction Genre-based approach , also called genre-based instruction (GBI), is a current trend to teaching writing which concerns itself not only with the product and the process of writing but also with the structure/inherent pattern of the text and its communicative purpose (Wennerstrom, 2003). According to Osman (2004) some distinct characteristics of GBI include the teaching of specific genres commonly required of students in the academe, and the overt teaching of the language patterns and social conventions of these genres which heighten students’ awareness of the structure of these genres and subsequently enhance their writing skill. There have been studies conducted that prove the efficacy of GBI. For instance, Swami (2008) evaluated the effectiveness of GBI and found out that learne rs’ exposure to the approach led to acquisition of knowledge and awareness of the convention of the genres which consequently helped boost their confidence in writing the same genres and develop their positive attitude towards language learning. Similarly, Cheng (2008) examined the effects of GBI on less  proficient L2 learners writing a narrative genre and found out the approach has remarkably improved their output in terms of content, organization, and language features of the genre. There have been other studies done by practitioners, both in the ESL and EFL settings in the other parts of the world. However, in the Philippine educational context GBI is not widely known and used despite its positive impact in improving students’ writing proficiency. Thus, there is paucity of researches done on GBI in the Philippines. This paper attempts to bridge this gap as it attempts to evaluate the effect of genre-  based instruction on students’ academic essay  in  the Philippine educational context. Specifically, it seeks to identify common writing problems found in students’  news report; evaluate students’ writing performanc e level before and after the genre-based instruction; and determine the significant difference between the performance of the students in the pre-test and post-test. Theoretical Framework    This study is anchored on Genre Theory and Noticing Hypothesis. Genre theory is founded on the notion that written discourse follows specific patterns or convention acceptable to  particular community. It is manifested in three different schools: Systemic Functional Linguistics, English for Specific Purposes, and New Rhetoric which have great impact in language pedagogy. SFL and ESP tend to be more linguistic (focus on the situational context to explain the linguistic and discourse structures) while New Rhetoric tends to be more ethnographic (considers the text to interpret the situational context). In addition, SFL and ESP make use of the linguistic approach (which apply the theories of functional grammar and discourse) and focus on the lexico-grammatical and rhetorical realization of communicative functions exemplified in a genre.  New Rhetoric focuses on the purposes and uses of genre and “the attitudes, beliefs, values and  behaviors of discourse communities ” (Johns, 2002, p. 91; Carter & Nunan, 2001).  Noticing Hypothesis  is   an SLA perspective proposed by Richard Schmidt. It refers to the  process of giving deliberate attention to the linguistic features in the input which should be indexed under awareness  for it to be converted into intake  and be made available for further  processing, which would then lead to an output     –   language use. Noticing is essential to learning and that language acquisition would not take place without it (Ellis, 1997). In this study, Noticing Hypothesis provides a principled rationale for lexical awareness-raising exercises at a discourse level and helps strengthen the claim that requiring students to pay close attention to the conventional patterns of the news report such as the content, text structure/organization, verb tense, voice, lexical items, and the like, will consequently improve their writing of this genre. Literature Review The term “genre” is employed in various educational contexts to refer to the recognized convention of particular texts in certain cultures (Hammond & Derewianka, 2001). According to Swales (1990) as “a class of communicative events, the members of which share some set of communicative purposes.”  Genre-oriented approach started in the late 1980s as a response to the writer-centered  process approach. It primaril y aims to make writing “purposeful, socially situated responses to  particular contexts and communities” (Hung, 2008, p. 2; Nunan, 2001). It was first employed in the ESP context, which marked the “infancy” of the genre movement (Swales, 2004). However, genre and its application in language pedagogy became popular in the 1990s. Genre-  based instruction is a “fresh,” –   new and improved instruction in teaching language skills, an approach that helps language learners in the tertiary level to master the English language (Osman, 2004).  Genre enthusiasts contend that individuals write with specific intentions in mind, that writing is an avenue to dress up their thoughts, and that they adhere to specific social conventions (laid for certain genres) in arranging their ideas. They also stress the importance of explicitly teaching these writing conventions in the classroom. V arious types of genres differ in their “writing conventions” and differ in “language features.” It is suggested that language teachers offer language learners enough writing practice of the different genres they require their students to write (Nation, 2009). According to Hyland (2007), GBI offers “very real benefits” to language learners  because it gives importance to language, content, and contexts. It includes the following features which offers some advantages in the EAP/ESP classroom: explicit   (clarifies what must be learned to support the acquisition of writing skills);  systematic  (offers a logical frame for focusing on both language and contexts); needs-based   (makes sure that course objectives and content are based on students’ needs);  supportive (assigns language teachers a vital function in scaffolding students’ learning and creativity); empowering (gives access to the patterns and  possibilities of variation in valued discourses); critical   (offers resources for learners to comprehend and challenge valued texts); and consciousness-raising   ( raises teachers’ understanding/knowledge of the texts to efficiently help learners in writing). In addition, genre-based teaching offers learners an explicit understanding of how texts in target genres are structured and why they are written in certain ways. It is very effective in  preparing L2 students to successfully adapt to any academic setting across various disciplines (Park, 2006). There have been studies conducted in order to validate the claim about the efficacy of GBI. For example, the study of Swami (2008) entitled Sensitizing ESL Learners to Genre  seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of explicit use of GBI in teaching writing. Specifically, it focused on identifying the possible merits of sensitizing the ESL learners to the rhetorical move structure of a genre, the communicative purposes of these moves, and the linguistic features that realized these moves toward the improvement of the learners ’ writing skills. The findings of the study reveal that learners’ exposure to GBI    –   consciousness raising on the inherent patterning of  particular genres such as the sales promotion letter, job application letter, academic essays, and their purposes and intended audience  –   helped improve learners’ writing ability. Another study,  A discourse-based approach to English writing for lower intermediate level students: An action research project  , which was conducted by Wu, Lee, Jih, and Chuo (2006) aims to evaluate the effect of GBI on students’ writing: narrative, explanation, argument, and personal recount. The results of the study reveal that GBI has significantly enhanced learners’ awareness of how the genres are written and consequently impr  oved students’ written outputs in terms of content, text organization, and sentence structures. Likewise, the study of Pan (2000, in Lin, 2010) evaluates the effectiveness of GBI and process-based instruction. The findings show that both approaches have helped heighten learners’ familiarity of the structure and conventions of the particular genre and improved their writing in terms content and organization.  Methodology Respondents The respondents were 40 first year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine students enrolled in the English 12 (Writing in the Discipline) class handled by the researcher at Central Mindanao University, Musuan, Maramag, Bukidnon, Philippines. Procedure Pilot-testing: The materials used for the lesson on news report were pilot-tested to a group of students who have similar characteristics with the respondents. Then these materials were improved. Implementing the program: Steps Writing activities/learning tasks Time allotted Pre-test (individual) The respondents were first requested to write a news report. After the session, their outputs were collected. 1 session; 1 hour Input 1 (Group work) The students were grouped into 10 with 5 members for each group. They were given a copy of a local news report and were asked to analyze the text using the guide questions (purpose of the text; organization/structure of the text: content, sentence structure, verb tense, voice, etc.) provided by the teacher. After the session, their outputs were collected. 1 session; 1 hour Input 2 (Group work) The students were asked to present their output (input 1) to the class (each group appointed a presenter/reporter). 1 session; 1 hour Input 3 (Class discussion) The teacher/researcher processed the students’ outputs  by facilitating class discussion which was focused on the writing conventions and structure of the news report (consciousness raising/noticing activity). 1 session; 1 hour Input 4 (Group work) Students were given assignment: to analyze by comparing and contrasting 3 news articles (1 local, 1 national, and 1 international) using the same guide questions or checklist provided by the teacher. 1 session; 1 hour Input 5 (Group work) The students were asked to share their assignment (result of their text analysis) to the class and feedback (another consciousness raising activity) were provided  by both the students (critic other group’s outputs) and the teacher. 1 session; 1 hour Post-test (Individual) The respondents were instructed to re-write (post-test) their news report (the same text they produced in the  pre-test) applying the concepts on news writing they learned from the class. They were also instructed to do  peer editing (checklist for peer-editing was provided) and then revising incorporating the suggestions/corrections of their peer editor. Their  papers were then collected. 1 session; 1 hour    Evaluating Students’ written outputs : Students’ written outputs (pre and post -tests) were evaluated by the researcher herself using a rubric. The results of the pre- and post-tests were compared to evaluate the significant effect of GBI on students’ news article.   Research Instrument The study used a writing rubric (describes the writing proficiency level of the learners) the researcher adapted from Paltridge (1992) which was srcinally developed by the   International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The instrument could assess specific linguistic features: ideas and arguments; accuracy in terms of lexical, grammatical, relational patterns, and use of cohesive devices; fluency; appropriateness; and intelligibility. Results and Discussion Research Problem 1: What common writing problems are found in students’ news article ? Table 1: Common Writing Problems (N=40) Verb tense Voice Verbal deadwood Text Structure/Organization Pre-test Post-test Pre-test Post-test Pre-test Post-test Pre-test Post-test  ____________________________________________________________________________________ 36 14 22 6 27 7 34 9 Table 1 shows the common writing problems committed by the respondents. Specifically, it shows that in the pre-test 36 of 40 (90%) respondents used either simple present tense and  present progressive in their news article instead of simple past tense. In the post-test, only 14 of the 36 (39%) respondents committed the error, and 22 (61%) respondents were able to use the correct simple past form of the verb. In terms of voice used, 22 of 40 (55%) used passive voice, instead of the more appropriate active voice, in the pre-test. In the post-test, only 6 of the 22 (27%) committed the error, and 16 (73%) were able to use the correct active voice. In terms of verbal deadwood, 27 of 40 (68%) respondents used unnecessary words in their news article (e.g., have stated that   instead of a single word “  said  , ”   according to the jeepney driver   instead of “ the jeepney driver said  ,” an ample amount of rain shower is the cause of the  flooding    instead of the intended meaning “ heavy rain caused the flood  ,” etc.). In the post -test, only 7 of the 27 (26%) committed the error, with 20 (74%) either corrected or omitted the verbal deadwood. In terms of text organization, during the pre-test 34 of 40 (85%) respondents used very long sentences (more than 20 words in a sentence which exceeded the ideal/recommended words for news article), lumped the lead and other details in one very long paragraph, used complex sentences instead of simple, and used vague and general words instead of concrete and specific. In the post-test, only 9 of the 34 (26%) committed the error, with 25 (74%) successfully improved the structure of their news article following the conventions of this genre.
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