Writing the teachers are required to teach EFL students

Writing
in English as a foreign language

EFL
writing is an activity which is a blend of cognitive, social, and intercultural
aspects. Writing as a foreign language requires the writer to know about the
content that the writing is about; the English language that is needed for the
construction of the writing; the process a writer has to go through to
construct the text; the genre of the text; and the writer also needs the
knowledge of the context of which involves the reader’s experiences and
cultural preference (Hyland, 2003b). In 1993, Kramsch (p. 205) introduced “Interculturality”,
which is defined as teaching the concept of otherness and foreignness in an EFL
classroom. Hence, the teachers are required to teach EFL students about
different cultural backgrounds. Hayes (1996) argued that the subject of an EFL
student’s writing, how the text is constructed, and for whom the text is
written are usually under influence of the cultural and social interaction that
the learner is exposed to from birth. In order to serve as a way of
communicating, an EFL learner’s written text needs to address the audience in
an appropriate social and cultural way (Gee, 2004, p. 24). Therefore, the EFL
writing learners should be able satisfy the intended audience and reader, it
has to be accommodating English as a foreign language and its associated
culture with their knowledge of the society and culture related to their first
language (L1) and the language they wish to learn (L2).

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Contextualized
writing, A NEW CONCEPT in TEACHING EFL WRITING

Hyland
(2003b), organizes the teaching of EFL writing into seven groups, which
respectively emphasizes the structure of language, how the written texts
function, themes or topics used in writing, creative expression, processes underlying
the writing activity, content of the text, and contexts of writing. In this
categorization, contextualizing means teaching learners of Englis has a foreign
language “how to use language patterns to accomplish coherent, purposeful
prose” (Hyland, 2003b, p. 18). Gee (2004) articulated that various cultural
backgrounds differ in the way they conceive a particular situation that is why a
text which serves as an appropriate writing for one culture, may not
necessarily do the same in another culture. By saying that, it is believed that
when trying to create EFL writing, a proper understanding of the target context
and discourse is a must. This way the writing produced by the learners is
accepted as an appropriate text by the target audience because of its “specific
ways of acting-interacting-thinking- believing-valuing-feeling” (Gee, 2004, p.
24). Similarily, van Dijk (2008) noted that language users “are not just
involved in processing discourse; at the same time they are also engaged in
dynamically constructing their subjective analysis and interpretation of the
communicative situation on line” (p. 54) and such an interpretation or
understanding may be called a context model.

 

Van
Dijk (2008) believes that a contextualized writing reveals the author’s beliefs
and experiences about a cultural event, the society, cultural backgrounds, and
discourse of a written text which is about a specific idea. It is what the
writer brings to the writing context which leads to shaping his or her final production.
Such a contextualized writing has a social and subjective nature; this text is also
dynamic and is constantly updated through events of its unique communication
kind (van Dijk, 2009). It must be noted, however, that van Dijk explains having
a context model that arises from the culture of the target text is the crucial
part of writing for and EFL learner. The learner needs to take into account the
role and function that his or her chosen context model has in a given
discourse. In order to carry that out, one needs to find the connections that
exists in the their understanding and EFL text from the viewpoint of a
genre-based approach, the teacher takes the concept model as the basis of the
approach which defines and leads the writing’s components against the basic
concepts of systemic functional linguistics which are genre, field, tenor, and
mode (Butt, 2000; Eggins, 2004; Hyland, 2003a). Among the four key elements of
the context model, the purpose of communication relates to genre, indicating
the type of texts that serve the purpose; the subject matter maps onto field,
representing the content that the writer wants to pass on to the reader; the
relation with the reader deals with tenor, referring to the social role
relationships played by the writer and the reader; and the pattern of
presentation projects squarely on mode, concerning the role that language plays
in communication.

The
distinctive difference between the two systems lies not in what the four
elements stand for but in the perspectives in which they are conceptualised.
The context model–based approach is conceived from the perspective of the
learner, whereas the genre based approach is understood from the perspective of
the written product. In other words, the former is more concerned with the
learner’s understanding and knowledge, and the latter is more about the
features identified in the learner’s writing. It follows that the context
model–based approach foregrounds learners’ agency in learning, proactively
engaging learners in developing their context model to guide meaning-making
practice through genre, field, tenor, and mode in terms of the genre-based
approach. The mutually complementary relation between the two approaches is
shown in Table 1, which is an opening paragraph of an EFL essay.

Following
the genre-based approach, the paragraph can be analysed in terms of genre,
field, tenor, and mode to show how the ideational, relational, and textual meanings
are made through linguistic presentation in the text.

Following
the context model–based approach, the same paragraph can be analysed to find
out how the writer’s decisions are shaped by the configurations of the four
component elements of the context model, namely, the purpose of communication,
the subject matter, the relationship with the reader, and the pattern of
presentation (see Table 2). Thereby, the analysis offers evidence showing how
students’ understanding of the context shapes their management of the related
sociolinguistic and pragmatic issues involved, which would be unavailable
otherwise.

Like
the genre-based approach, the context model–based approach is also enacted
through a teaching and learning cycle (Feez, 1998), which normally consists of
five phases: (1) building the context, (2) modelling and deconstructing the
text, (3) joint construction of the text, (4) independent construction of the
text, and (5) linking related texts. Pedagogically, the focus of classroom
instruction in this study is fluid across the five phases, and its connections
with the four elements of a context model are demonstrated best in critical
discourse analyses at three levels— contextual, textual, and discursive
(Fairclough, 2003; Rogers, 2011). To be more specific, at the phase of building
the context the focus of instruction is placed on contextual analyses of issues
involved, showing how the influence of the context bears upon the text and
shapes the subject matter. At the phases of modelling, deconstructing and
joint-constructing the text, analyses at the textual and discursive levels are
intended to highlight how writers’ choices of linguistic presentations are
shaped by the configurations of the context model. At the phase of independent
construction, no instruction is provided except for the sake of administration.
At the phase of linking related texts, the instruction is designed to engage
students in reviewing and reflecting on the previous contextual, textual, and
discursive analyses with reference to students’ independent EFL writing.