This mixed-methods study explored how 23 first-year university English as a foreign language (EFL) students in Japan improved their understanding of how to write academic essays in both exposition and discussion genres during a 15-week course. The study applied a genre-based approach combined with the teaching and learning cycle to writing. In Phase 1, students’ pre-essay, post-essay, and delayed post-test essays data were assessed by using the SFL criteria. For the macro analysis, general impression scores (g-scores) of all students’ essays are calculated using the rubric assessment criterion. A separate one-way repeated measures analysis of variance is conducted to evaluate learners’ understanding and appropriate lexicogrammatical choice on the prevalence of each linguistic category within textual writing. The g-score of the textual meaning (cohesive and coherent), especially theme development, improved significantly. In Phase 2, students’ interviews data through the stimulated-recall method were evaluated by using Thematic analysis to track their understanding of the uses of lexicogrammatical features and structure of their writing. These thematic analysis codes were identified: students’ understanding of essay’ structures, the uses of in-text citations, signposts, topic sentences, thesis statements. The results allowed us to understand novice writers’ awareness of academic essays and their new writing strategies. Overall, the EFL learners who were unaccustomed to genre conventions and had an inconsequential notion of adequate academic writing were apparent in their first writing task. However, the analysis of EFL learners’ post and delayed post-test academic writing tasks indicated that they began to explore the three metafunctions in their essays.
Akiko Nagao, Ryukoku University, Japan
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