A Genre Based Approach to Teaching B1 Level E-Mail Writing for the World of Work
In a professional world where communication technologies have become increasingly accessible and speed of delivery, as a result, is at a premium, it comes as little surprise that findings from a recent joint Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) / Cambridge Language Assessment study (2016) stress employers’ insistence on developing English language email writing skills as a priority, and this is particularly true of Italian companies.
The implications of this need for specifically skill orientated, professional development in ESP writing are enormous but how far are they being reflected by the assessment criteria adopted by major examination boards and associations and, consequently, reflected in teaching practices? In Europe the ESP teaching field is increasingly informed by the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) but these descriptors may neglect the central role discourse elements play in contributing to an effective text. An interesting question to consider, then, is what type of washback is being created and whether or not a genre based approach, such as is common in approaches to EAP (Bhatia 1993; Swales 1990; Hyland 2008 ) might be effective when teaching email writing skills at B1 levels. This article, therefore, looks at some areas that are perhaps neglected and explores practical ways in which applying a genre based approach may foster awareness and improved production skills in B1 level email writing, focusing on how this has been carried out in undergraduate language courses with students studying Economics at Verona University.
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