Writing Genres in English

Reflections on excerpts (genres; 1-5 & ads; 22-28) of Susanne Christensens books City of Dreams (2010) and Ads (2011) from the Close-Up series

This reflection will differ from the previous ones, it is not a cheat sheet nor a resumé of the texts, but rather a review combined with discussion of Christensen’s texts. This is not just a pun since the texts are about writing genres, but a sincere interest in the topic of genres and teacher resources. During my internship I experienced, English teachers (including myself) often take for granted, that the students have been taught how to write certain genres in their Danish (or other L1) classes – as I met students in the 7th grade, that had no idea what the difference was between fiction and nonfiction, or how to write a short story or a review.

The excerpt of Christensen’s books covers essays, diary entries, formal & informal letters, film reviews, news articles and work-sheets for writing your own advertisement, how to write a letter, how to write an essay, how to write a diary entry, how to write a short story, how to write a news article, and how to write a poem.

I am initially fond of things that seem concrete and to-the-point, thus I’m happy to see that each section only takes up one page each, creating a sort of encyclopaedia feel from the get-go – leaving me with no fear of getting lost in the text. Each section has its own title, a brief definition, followed by a guidelines and then a written example or photo – very pleasing to the eye and the mind – though making me wonder why this is written for teachers and not directly to students, as it is very direct and easy to understand. I did stumble over the fact (and the page), that there was guidelines of how to write a diary entry, thinking that a diary is the last place you need to regulate to someone else’s expectations or limitations for that matter. But I found it, in that specific section, that Christisen merely states “what people often do” and uses phrases like “you can do (…) but it is not compulsory”. A less but exciting fear about seeing the guidelines of how to write a poem, was immediately put to sleep, as the first sentence states “It is very hard to define what a poem is. Poems can have countless forms. They can be short or as long as a book. They can rhyme but dont’t have to.” Besides from those two no-longer-existing scares, I cannot stress enough how annoyed I get when adults don’t know how to write a formal letter (read: email), a job application or especially – in group work – AN ACADEMIC REPORT! There is obviously a need for both young and old learners to become more exposed to our structural and linguistic rules of certain genres. The human brain is wired for patterns, rules, and logic – and as it so happens to be with most of the things we learn, as soon as we get it, we start understanding why and how it’s useful. Information and knowledge makes previously unknown topics interesting to us.

A pleasant “read” and a useful tool.

Literature:

Christensen, S. (2010): City of Dreams – Teacher Resources. Gyldendal
Christensen, S. (2011): Ads – Teacher Resources. Gyldendal

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