Modelling writing: using the genre approach in the Japanese as a foreign language classroom
Yuko Ramzan [+]
Elizabeth A. Thomson [+]
University of New South Wales
Over the last 15 to 20 years, the teaching of Japanese as a Foreign Language (JFL) in the Australian education context has been based on a communicative approach. This approach establishes an ‘information gap’ between speaker and listener, thereby setting up a ‘real’ need to communicate, introducing and practicing language patterns in a social context. However, while this approach has been popular with teachers, particularly at a beginners level in the teaching of speaking and listening, the same cannot be said in relation to the teaching of writing to more advanced students. Constructing ‘information gaps’ in social situations without reference to the bi-directional effect 1 of the context on the text is inadequate. Another approach which foregrounds the social purpose, the genre and the context of a text that is based on linguistic analysis of the characteristic lexico-grammatical features is needed. One such approach that has been successful in the ESL classroom is the Genre Approach based on Systemic Functional Linguistics as developed by the Sydney School (Johns, 2003). This paper presents an argument for the adoption of the Genre Approach in the JFL classroom. The approach in demonstrated in two parts. Firstly, a model text of the type that students are expected to write is analysed in terms of its context, social purpose and lexico-grammatical features. This, in turn, is incorporated into a proposed lesson plan based around the framework of the Genre Approach, which embeds writing in a lesson module extending over 7 weeks, for two hours per week. This kind of description provides JFL teachers with an example of a writing pedagogy that locates learning in the cultural context of the target language, highlighting not just the lexicogrammatical features of the text but also the social purpose and registerial characteristics which serve to identify the text as one instance of the genre to which it belongs.