Teaching 'periodicity' in an EFL writing class to help students develop ideas from paragraph to text: A classroom case study
Issue: Vol 8 No. 1 (2012)
Journal: Linguistics and the Human Sciences
Generally speaking, the structure of language used in different pieces of writing depends on the genre (a staged, goal-oriented social process: Martin, 1992; 1997) or text type each text belongs to. With the genre of an exposition (a text type which aims to persuade the reader that something is the case: Gerot and Wignell, 1994: 197) in particular, the arguments are organized in different paragraphs, and each paragraph of the argument is typically composed of the three basic elements: topic sentence, supporting details, and concluding sentence (Oshima and Hogue, 2006: 3). In the context of ‘English as a Foreign Language’ (EFL), writing is viewed amongst learners as one of the most difficult skills to master (Syananondh and Padgate, 2005; Piriyasilpa, 2009). Especially, when writing an exposition, they often focus on form, without concern for discourse organization or text texture. This results in their arguments being organized with the three basic elements of paragraph, but without construction as a unified whole. This study reports on a curriculum which, by teaching the concept of ‘periodicity’ (the waves of information flow in a text: Martin and Rose, 2003) aimed to help students: (1) understand how the organizational principle used in a shorter text can be used to organize a much longer text; (2) create relations of language and meaning; and (3) develop a unified whole in their written texts. In this study, students were taught both paragraph structure and cohesion. They were asked to submit written examples both before and after learning about ‘periodicity’, these examples were then compared for hyperTheme, hyperNew and thematic development. It was found that the knowledge of ‘periodicity’ has shown students how the organizational principle they used in a shorter text can be used ‘fractally’ to organize a longer text. This paper discusses the results and some implications for future study in the area of writing skill development.
Author: Yupaporn Piriyasilpa
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