Item Details

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

Subject Areas: Writing and Composition Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/lhs.v8i1.91


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

View Original Web Page

References :

Bloor, T. and Bloor M. (1995) The Functional Analysis of English: A Hallidayan Approach. New York: St Martin’s Press Inc.
Butt, D., Fahey, R., Feez, S., Spinks, S., and Yallop, C. (2000) Using Functional Grammar: An Explorer's Guide (2nd edn) Sydney: National Centre for English Language Teaching and Research.
Chinnawongs, S. (2001) In search of an optimal writing feedback strategy. PASAA 31: 27‒39.
Danes, F. (1974) Functional sentence perspective and the organization of the text. In F. Danes (ed.) Papers on Functional Sentence Perspective, 106‒128. Prague: Academia/The Hague: Mouton.
Eggins, S. (2004) An Introduction to Systemic Functional Grammar (2nd edn) London and NewYork: Continuum.
Eng Ho, D. G. (2009) Systemic text analysis in the ESL writing classroom: Does it work? RELC 40 (3): 333‒359.
Farrell, S. C. T. and Lim, P. C. P. (2005) Conceptions of grammar teaching: A case study of teachers' beliefs and classroom practices. TESL-EJ: Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language 9 (2): 1‒13. Retrieved on 1 October 2010 from
Fries, P. H. (1995) Themes, methods of development, and texts. In R. Hasan and P. H. Fries (eds) On Subject and Theme: A Discourse Functional Perspective, 317‒359. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Gerot, L. and Wignell, P. (1994) Making Sense of Functional Grammar. Sydney: Gerd Stabler.
Halliday, M. A. K. (1994) An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Arnold.
Halliday, M. A. K. and Matthiessen, M. I. M. C. (2004) An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Arnold.
Martin, J. R. (1992) English Text: System and Structure. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
Martin, J. R. (1997) Analysing genre: Functional parameters. In F. Christie and J. R. Martin (eds) Genre and Institutions: Social Process in the Workplace and School, 3‒39. London and New York: Continuum.
Martin, J. R. and Rose, D. (2003) Working with Discourse. London: Continuum.
Martin, J. R. and Rose, D. (2007) Working with discourse—Meaning Beyond the Clause.London: Continuum.
Myles, J. (2002) Second language writing and research: The writing process and error analysis in student texts. TESL-EJ: Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language 6 (2): 1‒20. Retrieved on 10 December 2008 from
Oshima, A. and Hogue, A. (2006) Writing Academic English (4th edn) New York: Longman.
Padgate, W. (2008) Beliefs and opinions about English writing of students at a Thai university. PASAA 42: 31‒54.
Pike, K. L. (1982) Linguistic Concepts: An Introduction to Tagnemics. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
Piriyasilpa, Y. (2009) Periodicity and its use in language teaching. TESL-EJ 12 (4): 1‒20. Retrieved on 10 December 2008 from
Syananondh, K. and Padgate, W. (2005) Teacher intervention during the writing process: An alternative to providing teacher feedback on EFL academic writing in large classes.PASAA 36: 67‒87.