Using Genre-based Writing Instruction to Teach the Writing of Literary Criticism

Wei Ann Ong


Literary criticism requires students to interpret and critique a literary text using literary theories. This study examined the use of genre-based writing instruction to teach the writing of literary criticism to a group of first year undergraduate students. The genre approach used was based on the Teaching Learning Cycle (TLC) developed by Systemic Functional Linguistics scholars. Past studies have shown that there is a dearth of research studying the use of the genre approach in teaching writing for literature in the ESL context. This study was undertaken as an exploratory case study, using pre-post tests and interview as data collection methods. An analysis of respondents’ essays revealed that they have improved in their ability to demonstrate all but a few of the rhetorical and linguistic conventions of a literary criticism. However, respondents who participated in the interview opined that they struggled in relating the exemplar studied during the deconstruction stage and felt that the writing instructor was too prescriptive in the joint-construction stage. Hence, the study revealed a need to hone students’ mastery of the subject content and language use. Writing instructors need to cater to the needs of the learners in carrying out the TLC.



genre-based; literary criticism; ESL; teaching writing; teaching literature

Full Text:



Bawarshi, A.S., & Reiff, M.J. (2010). Genre: An Introduction to History, Theory, Research, and Pedagogy. Indiana: Parlor Press.

Beck, S. W., & Jeffery, J. V. (2009). Genre and Thinking in Academic Writing Tasks. Journal of Literacy Research. 41(2), 228-272.

Bitchener, J., & Turner, E. (2011). Assessing the Effectiveness of One approach to the Teaching of Thematic Unit Construction of Literature Reviews. Assessing Writing. 16(2), 123-136.

Bressler, C.E. (2010). Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice (5th ed.). New York: Longman.

Bruce, I. (2010). Textual and Discoursal Resources used in the Essay Genre in Sociology and English. Journal of English for Academic Purposes. 9, 153-166.

Burke, K. (1969). A Rhetoric of Motives. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Cazden, C. (1996). Reading of Vygotsky in writing, in D. Hicks (Ed.). Discourse, Language and Schooling (pp. 165-188). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Delaney, J. (2013). How to Write a Critical Literary Essay. Retrieved December 5th, 2013, from _ essay.pdf

Ganakumaran Subramaniam. (2003). Linguistic pathways to the study of literature in the Malaysian ESL context. GEMA Online® Journal of Language Studies. 3(1), 1-21.

Gebhard, M. (2010). Teacher Education in Changing Times: A Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) Perspective. TESOL Quarterly. 44(4), 797-803.

Hale, D. (1997). Literary Criticism as a Tool for Interpreting Literature. Retrieved December 5th, 2013, /handouts/crit.html

Halliday, M.A.K., & Matthiessen, C. M. (1999). Construing Experience through Meaning: A Language based approach to Cognition. London : Continuum.

Hiltunen, T. (2006). “Coming to know Verbs in Research Articles in Three Academic Disciplines”. Paper persented on the Actas del V Congreso Internaciónal AELFE (Asociación Europea de Lenguas para Fines Específicos). In M. C. Pérez Llantada Auría, R. Plo Alastrué & C. P. Neumann (Eds.). Zaragoza: Prensas Universitarias de Zaragoza (pp. 246-251).

Humphrey, S., & Mcnaught, L. (2011). Revisiting Joint Construction in the Tertiary Context. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy. 34(1), 98-116.

Hwang, D. & Embi, M.A. (2007). Approaches Employed by Secondary School Teachers to Teaching the Literature Component in English. Jurnal Pendidik dan Pendidikan. 22, 1-23.

Hyon, S. (2001). Long-term Effects of Genre-based Instruction: A Follow-up Study of an EAP Reading Courses. English for Specific Purposes. 20, 417-438.

Ismail, F., Abdul Aziz, M. & Abdullah, T. (2008). Literature in English language teaching: A revisit of the Malaysian context. In Noor Adibah Mohd Omar & Zaidah Zainal (Eds.), Research in English language teaching (53-68). Skudai: Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

Kay, H., & Dudley-Evans, T. (1998). Genre: What teachers Think? ELT Journal. 52, 308-314.

Krueger, R.A., & Casey, M.A. (2000). Focus Groups. Thousand Oaks : Sage Publication.

Kucsh, C.E. (2009). Checklist for Writing about Literature. Retrieved December 5th, 2013, from _and_Literature/USC_Upstate_Checklist_for_Writing_about _Literature.pdf

Parry, S. (1998). Disciplinary Discourse in Doctoral Theses. Higher Education. 36, 273-99.

Pillai, S. (2010). Popular Pedagogy: Multimodal Environments for the Teaching and Learning of Literature in the Malaysian Tertiary World. Asiatic. 4(2), 81-91.

Rizomilioti, V. (2006). Exploring Epistemic Modality in Academic Discourse using Corpora. Information Technology in Languages for Specific Purposes. 7, 53-71.

Rothery, J., & Stenglin, M. (1995). Exploring Literacy in School English (Write it Right Resources for Literacy and Learning). Sydney: Metropolitan East Disadvantaged Schools Program.

Stewart, D.W., & Shamdasani, P.N. (1990). Focus Groups: Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publication.

Swales, J. (1990). Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings: Cambridge Applied Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ting, S., Campbell, Y.M., Law, L. & Poh, H. (2013). Explanations without a Purpose? Genre-based Instruction and Academic Writing. Journal of Academic Language & Learning. 7(1), 26-39.

Wilder, L.A., & Wolfe, J. (2009). Sharing the Tacit Rhetorical Knowledge of the Literary Scholar: The Effects of Making Disciplinary Conventions Explicit in Undergraduate Writing about Literature Courses. Research in the Teaching of English. 44(2), 170-209.

Yang, W. (2012). A Study of Students’ Perceptions and Attitudes towards Genre-based ESP Writing Instruction. Asian ESP Journal. 8(3), 50-73.


  • There are currently no refbacks.




eISSN : 2550-2131

ISSN : 1675-8021