Genre-Based Language Pedagogies: Concepts and Practice 
A Symposium at Brown University

May 6-7

Salomon Center 
Room 001 and Lower Lobby
Brown University

This  symposium is sponsored by the  Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning and
hosted by the  Center for Language Studies  at Brown University.  

Keynote Address

  • Marianna Ryshina-Pankova, Assistant Professor, Department of German, Georgetown University.
    Scaffolding Foreign Language Literacy: Implementing The Genre-based Approach

The attempt to reconceptualize foreign language (FL) teaching and learning in terms of literacy development is a significant step forward crucial for enabling students to use a FL competently in a multilingual and multicultural world. This step is also necessary for asserting the importance of FL study for humanistic learning valued in secondary and tertiary education settings. However, while an orientation towards literacy as sociocultural practice can form a felicitous overarching framework in FL education, in and of itself it is too broad to be effective in organizing a curriculum and implementing pedagogy that address humanistic learning goals by integrating language and content, language and culture, and language and critical thinking learning through the study of texts. In fact, the use of a literacy-oriented approach presents educators with the following challenges in FL instruction: the problem of defining the principles of content selection; the problem of content and language sequencing; and the problem of language- and content-integrating pedagogical approach that would lead to literacy. 

The identified problems all relate to the task of scaffolding learner literacy development, which my talk aims to address. To this end, I will start with the conceptualization challenge and focus on the concept of genre informed by the systemic functional theory of language (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004; Martin, 2009), a notion that can 1) help operationalize literacy development by linking social processes and language use and 2) serve as a crucial curricular building block instrumental for selecting and sequencing materials in an integrated curriculum. Next, I will illustrate the principles of genre sequencing through an analysis of three increasingly complex narratives within the same content area and suggest an approach to their didacticization that aims to integrate content and language learning. I will then turn to the realization challenge and briefly report on the experience of implementing a literacy-oriented genre-driven and content-based curriculum in my home department at Georgetown University. And finally, I will conclude by discussing the teacher education challenge that necessitates careful scaffolding of instructor expertise in a genre-based program.  

Symposium program committee:
Ercan Balci
Silvia Sobral
Stephanie Ravillon 
Jill Stewart (Staff)
Elsa Amanatidou (chair)