Genre approach to teaching formal letter writing
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Writing in a foreign language is both complex and fascinating, whether viewed from the perspective of a teacher or a student. My teacher-interest in the writing skill stems from the fact that in my experience it is the most difficult skill to develop successfully. As a non-native user of English and a foreign-language student, on the other hand, I often feel that especially when writing in order to accomplish a specific goal, we have insufficient tools to write successfully. Transmitting information is easier than getting things done. Consequently, in this paper I concentrate on the genre which tends to be most disliked by both teachers and students – formal letters, with the specific focus on letters of complaint. It is this type of letters that each of us may need to write in real life. This type of a letter is interesting as the writer has to combine a number of skills. In order to write successfully it is not enough to master the use of grammar and lexis, a writer has to be aware of the cultural and social context in which the text will function. I believe the genre approach to teaching writing allows students to develop all sub-skills necessary to become proficient writers. In this paper attention will be first given to Common features of formal letters, then to a brief explanation of what genre approach is. The second half of the paper covers some of the of the major problems learners may encounter when writing formal letters (motivation, cultural and linguistic issues). The “problem” section is followed by a number of practical solutions.
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