fbpx

Academic Research

Genre and Move Analysis in English Language Teaching  

Vikki Adam 

Introduction

Writing is a formidable task for language learners (Hyland, 2008). It requires knowledge of the topic, the audience and of language conventions (Applebee, 1982). Moreover, to write successfully, students need awareness of the formal patterns that shape texts. However, while students receive instruction in grammatical, lexical and syntactic features of writing, the organisational aspects are often neglected. Consequently, students are unaware of the structural conventions that varying discourse types require and are unable to produce them. Enabling students to acquire an understanding of discourse structure is a vital element of the teacher’s role. One method for achieving this is through genre. 

Genre has become an increasingly influential concept in discourse analysis (Tardy & Swales, 2014). Defined as “how things get done, when language is used to accomplish them” (Martin, 1985, p.20), genres signify how language is used in recurring situations (Hyland, 2008). For example, when an action is repeatedly required, users develop measures to implement that action. These measures eventually become a recognizable and accepted form. Thus, genres are typified, recurrent rhetorical actions (Miller, 1984), that have specific purposes, which determine their content, structure and language.

Texts are most likely to fulfil their purpose and be successful when they adhere to conventions (Hyland, 2008). Genre analysis examines how language is used in specific contexts. It accounts for how texts are constructed, used, interpreted and exploited (Bhatia, 2004). Genre analysis is a valuable method for teaching language (Charles & Pecocorai, 2016). It provides a methodological environment, which encourages students to consider how language operates in particular contexts and how it can be used to meet goals. According to Santos (1996), genre analysis is “a powerful tool that reveals the rationale that shapes the design of standardized communicative events” (p.497). One important type of genre analysis is move analysis.

Move analysis

Move analysis is a top-down approach for genre analysis. Developed by Swales to describe the organisational patterns of research articles, move analysis has stimulated substantial research on the rhetorical structures of academic and professional texts (Biber et al, 2007). Its goal is to identify structural and linguistic regularities characterizing genres by analysing a selection of texts representing a particular genre (Tardy & Swales, 2014).

Move analysis describes the communicative purposes of a text, by classifying units of discourse into rhetorical moves (Biber et al, 2007). A move refers to a section of text that performs a specific communicative function. Moves have individual functions, however they also contribute to the overall purpose of the genre (Biber et al, 2007). This purpose constitutes the genre’s rationale, which “shapes the schematic structure of the discourse and influences and constrains choice of content and style” (Swales, 1990, p.58). Some move types occur more frequently than others. If a move appears in over 60% of texts, it is deemed obligatory. If it appears less, it is considered optional (Can et al, 2016). Moves can contain multiple elements, which work collaboratively to execute a move. These elements are referred to as steps (Swale, 1981) or strategies (Bhatia, 1994).

Some genres have simple move structures, whereas others comprise of complex move structures. Although related genres share common move types, each has their own characteristics, reflecting the genre’s specific functions (Biber et al, 2007). For example, research article abstracts and conference abstracts have similar but not identical move structures.

Move analysis is also useful for exploring the linguistic characteristics of genres. Lexical elements, such as fixed phrases and collocations, feature prominently in certain genres. For example, phrases frequently used to introduce research include: “This study reveals/investigates/compares”, whereas phrases used for discussing the results of research are: “The results of this study indicate/show/prove”. Collocations are also commonly used to good effect. Other lexical elements to note are the use of discourse markers, which can signpost moves, such as “however” and “in conclusion”. Hedging is another significant feature. This may be achieved through the use of modal verbs (“may” and “might”) and cautious language (“suggesting that” and “results imply”). When dealing with academic genres, the register will be formal and texts are likely to contain citations and considerable jargon.

 

Pedagogical implications 

Genres are in a constant state of development (Berkenkotter & Huckin, 1995). Insights gained from genre analysis can inform teaching methodology and resource development. According to Yakhontova (2002), “Genre-oriented approaches, which highlight the cognitive organisation of a text are promising from a pedagogical perspective because of the comprehensive view they provide” (p.216).

Firstly, move analysis clearly demonstrates how a successful abstract should be structured and written, what it must include (obligatory moves) and what it could include (optional moves). Secondly, gaining knowledge and understanding of the rhetorical structure and writing norms of different genres not only helps students produce discourse, it also makes them more discerning when it comes to comprehending and critically evaluating texts. Thirdly, raising awareness of – and explicitly teaching – the linguistic features of abstracts can help ESL writers overcome language difficulties (Nguyen, 2014). Moreover, move analysis enhances teachers’ understanding of genre, which may also lead to the creation of more appropriate and effective teaching resources. Finally, as observed by Hyland (2008), “writing is a practice based on expectations” (p.544). Thus, move analysis promotes an understanding of the patterns underpinning communication, which is integral for all practitioners.

 

Conclusion

According to Hyland (1992), “Effective communication is as much a matter of organisation as content” (p.12). Thus, move analysis is a valuable tool for language teaching and learning. It examines the rhetorical organisation and language use of discourse in authentic contexts and provides powerful insights into the rationale of genres (Tardy & Swales, 2014).

Share this article

Sources

Applebee, A. (1982). Writing and learning in school settings. In M. Nystrand (Ed.), What writers know. (p. 365-381). New York:  Academic  Press

Berkenkotter, C. & Huckin, T. N. (1995). Genre knowledge in disciplinary communication. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erblaum Associates.

Bhatia, V. K. (1994). Analyzing genre: Language use in professional setting. London: Longman.

Bhatia, V. (2004). Worlds of written discourse: A genre-based view. London: Continuum.

Biber, D., Connor, U., & Upton, T. A. (2007). Discourse on the move: Using corpus analysis to describe discourse structure. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.

Can, S., Karabacak, E. & Qin, J. (2016). Structure of moves in research article abstracts in Applied Linguistics. Publications, 4 (23) p. 1 – 16. Doi: 10.3390/publications4030023.   

Charles, M. & Pecorari, D. (2016).  Introducing English for Academic Purposes.  New York: Routledge.

Halleck, G. B. & Connor, U. B. (2006). Rhetorical Moves in TESOL conference proposals. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 5, p. 70 – 86.

Hyland, K. (1992). Genre Analysis: Just another fad? English Teaching Forum,  30 (2), p 14 – 18.

Hyland, K. (2000). Disciplinary discourses: Social interactions in academic writing. London, UK: Longman.

Hyland, K. (2008). Plenary Speeches: Genre and academic writing in the disciplines. Language Teaching 41(4). p. 543 – 562.

Martin, J. R. (1985). Process and text: two aspects of human semiosis. In James D. Benson and William S. Greaves (eds.), Systemic Perspectives on Discourse. Vol 1, (p. 248 – 274).

Norwood, NJ: Ablex. Miller, C. R. (1984).  Genre as social action. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 70. p.  151–167. Nguyen, T. T. L., Nguyen, L. D., Li, Q., & Pramoolsook, L. (2014). TESOL Conference Abstracts: Discrepancies between Potential Writers’ Knowledge and

Actual Composition. The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies. 20(3) p. 161-176.

Ren, H. & Li, Y. (2011). A comparison study on the rhetorical moves of abstracts in published research articles and master’s foreign-language theses. English Language Teaching, 4, p. 162–166. 


Santos, M. B. (1996). The textual organisation of research paper abstracts in applied linguistics. Text, 16 (4), p. 481- 499.


Swales, J. (1981). Aspects of article introductions. Aston ESP Research Report No.1, Language Studies Unit, University of Aston in Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.

Swales, J. M. (1990). Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Cambridge, UK:

Cambridge University Press.

Tardy, C. M. & Swales, J. M. (2014). Genre Analysis. In K.P. Schneider & A. Barron (eds.) Pragmatics of discourse, (p. 165-187). Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter.

Yakhontova, T. (2002). Selling or telling? The issue of cultural variation in research genre. In J. Flowerdew (Ed.), Academic Discourse (p. 216 – 232). Harlow: UK: Pearson Education.

Related articles

Academic Research

Integrating Constructivist Practices into the EFL Classroom

This article seeks to argue that the didactic model of teaching, so widely used in second language teaching, has a number of pitfalls that can be detrimental to student learning and student achievement. It puts forth the notion that constructivist teaching methods, as outlined in the article, provide the most effective way to keep students engaged in their learning while providing the 21st century skills they will require to navigate this constantly changing world. 

Professional Practice

Ronaldo and Writing: How to improve student writing

Professional Practice

The Show Must go On

Academic Research

Staff Satisfaction – A literature Review

Professional Development

Delta Module 3

Travel, Culture, Expat Life

Speedboat Days

Work with us!

View vacancies

Address

Block D, Unit 5 & 6, Kiarong Complex
Lebuhraya Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah
Bandar Seri Begawan BE1318

Telephone:

+673 2442773

Email:

info@cfbt.org

Work with us

 View our current vacancies

Useful links

 Safeguarding

 Contact us

 Talk to our staff

 Work with us

 FAQ

© CfBT Education Services (B) Sdn. Bhd 2019 | Powered By Destine Digital

© CfBT Education Services (B) Sdn. Bhd 2019 | Powered By Destine Digital