Developing competence in writing in English as a foreign language
: a study in the teaching of the writing of report to junior high school students in Indonesia using a genre based approach

  • Sutojo

    Student thesis: Coursework Masters - CDU


    The study attempts to investigate and develop the most effective model for teaching writing in English to Junior high school students in Indonesia. It should be noted that the term writing as used and understood in the thesis refers to practices of constructing meanings in text, not of putting sounds down in graphic representations or strings of sentences. 

    The study was developed against the prevailing practices for teaching English as a foreign language (EFT) in schools in Indonesia which, to the best of the researchers knowledge, place more emphasis on the study of formal grammar of English. In these teaching practices, while students may frequently become proficient in the English grammatical aspects, their competence in using the language as a resource for making meaning is limited. Of the significant determinants contributing to the problem are the approach adopted in the teaching of English which is sentence/syntax-based, the educational traditions in Indonesia which, to a larger extent, is teacher-centred and the minimal attention given to the teaching of writing. 

    For the purpose of the investigation reported in the thesis, a theoretical framework drawing on systemic functional (SF) linguistic theory was adopted. A genre (ie. report) was selected for the purpose of the teaching experiment. Then a program for teaching the genre was designed, developed and implemented using the genre-based approach. The teaching program followed a model of teaching cycle suggested by Callaghan and Rothery (1988: 39). 

    The students participating in the teaching experiment had never been introduced to genre-based teaching principles when this study commenced. After twelve sessions of about 100 minutes each, once a week, it is clear that the students developed a good understanding in how to construct a text. The evidence from the analysis of their texts clearly indicates that there is a significant improvement from sentence/syntax to text-type writing. We noted that the students have gained good control of the schematic structure of report. The texts analysed, while they vary in length and content, all have the main elements of schematic structure characteristic of report. 

    We also noted that the students' control of language has improved significantly. This is evident in their linguistic realisations for Theme, Transitivity and Reference. 

    The students success demonstrated above, however, cannot solely be attributed to the twelve-teaching session mentioned earlier. Nevertheless, it is argued that the genre-based approach used during the teaching experiment was the major contributing factor. It was therefore concluded that this approach is effective for teaching writing of report in this EFL group of learners.

    On the evidence of the findings mentioned above, it would be possible and equally effective to use this approach for teaching other genres across the curriculum to junior high school students in Indonesia. 

    Six recommendations are proposed following the conclusions drawn from the findings of the study. Significant among them are the need to consider introducing teachers of English in Indonesian high schools to systemic functional grammar, redesign the English curriculum and textbooks based on the theory, adopt the Genre Based Approach as an alternative and create learning environment and resources to foster better learning outcomes.
    Date of AwardJun 1994
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorPeter Wignell (Supervisor)

    Cite this