Genre – a focus on reading and writing

(Many thanks to Deb Avery for pointing me in this direction.)

The following is a summary of my talk in Romania:

Learners have to deal with a number of different types of text – reading and understanding them as well as producing them. My talk focused on analysing genres with students in order to help them with these challenges.

Genre is a style of writing that involves a particular set of characteristics.

Why is it important for students to know about genres?

When reading:

·         To recognise type of text

·         Activate schemata

·         Navigate the text and make predictions

When writing:

·         To know the shape of text they need to produce

·         To follow genre patterns of layout, style, choice of grammar and vocabulary

Every text has a specific purpose and usually a specific audience.

There are three main purposes of texts: to entertain, inform or evaluate.


Purpose: to entertain

3 stages: orientation – the who, where, when etc; complication; resolution.

Language used: past tenses, descriptive vocabulary, direct speech

Think of any story, film plot etc and you can see they all follow this pattern.

e.g. Little Red Riding Hood

Orientation - we are introduced to the little girl in the forest, who is off to visit her grandma

Complication – the wolf is disguised in order to eat her

Resolution – depending on which version you read (a) she is rescued by the woodsman or (b) eaten by the wolf


Purpose: to inform

Stages: classification, description

Language used: present tenses, topic-specific vocabulary

e.g. The horse is a mammal that people have valued for thousands of years. In the past people commonly used horses to get from place to place and to pull heavy loads. People still use horses in sports and recreation. The scientific name of the horse is Equus caballus.

Other genres:


Purpose: to explain what to do

Stages: step by step instructions

Language used: imperatives, short clear sentences, few adjectives


Headlines e.g. Three killed in blaze

Passive voice e.g. The suspect was arrested and charged with murder.


Use of repetition (particularly x 3  and cadence


Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him;
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones,
So let it be with Caesar.

Shakespeare, Julius Caesar


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