Genres in writing: A new path to English language learning

April 20, 2015, Boston College
Boston College Lynch School of Education Professor Maria Brisk has spent seven years developing her Genres in Writing curriculum. Her latest research shows the new approach boosts literacy and language learning for elementary school students. Credit: Boston College

Migration and globalization are placing thousands of second language learners in the classrooms of teachers who lack training in language instruction. As a result, schools face the challenge of preparing educators to foster inclusive, effective language learning.

In a 7-year study at a Boston elementary school where half the students are English Language Learners (ELL), setting a school-wide goal of improved writing skills and using a genres-based instructional method improved the performance of ELL students on state and internal assessments, according to Boston College Lynch School of Education Professor Maria E. Brisk, who presents her findings today at the American Educational Research Association annual meeting.

"Schools need to set a clear goal to improve writing instruction so that all teachers and all students are engaged," said Brisk, who details her Genres in Writing approach in her book Educating Students in Academic Literacies (2015, Routledge). "To support that, genre-based provides teachers with very specific content they need to reach students with different degrees of English proficiency."

The most recent U.S. Department of Education data show the nation's public schools enroll nearly 4.4 million English learners, or nine percent of total enrollment. In urban schools, ELL students constitute 14.2 percent of enrollment.

Developed with classroom teachers, Genres in Writing breaks from the traditional use of the personal essay and teaches children how to approach, prepare and execute writing across multiple genres, such as the persuasive, expository and historical.

Explore further: A scientific look at the art of teacher talk

More information: The AERA 2015 session "International Perspectives on Teacher Preparation for Second Language Learners" takes place Monday, April 20, 10:35 AM at the Chicago Marriott, Sixth Level, Great America Room.

Related Stories

A scientific look at the art of teacher talk

April 16, 2015

It has long been said teaching is both an art and a science. In a new study that uses a scientific lens to look at the conversational art of instruction, a team of researchers identify specific ways teachers talk to students ...

Forming school networks to educate 'the new mainstream'

April 17, 2015

As immigration increases the number of non-English speaking "culturally and linguistically diverse" students, schools will need to band together in networks focused on the challenges of educating what has been called "the ...

Recommended for you

In the gaping mouth of ancient crocodiles

June 18, 2018

The mouth of today's crocodilians inspires fear and awe, with their wide gape and the greatest known bite force in the vertebrate animal kingdom. However, this apex predator of today and its modus of attack (its mouth) had ...

Secrets of extinct cow with face like a bulldog revealed

June 15, 2018

An international team of scientists have used the latest genetic and anatomical techniques to study the remains of a cow with a short face like a bulldog that fascinated Charles Darwin when he first saw it in Argentina 180 ...

Ancient mammal ancestor found and identified in China

June 14, 2018

A team of researchers from China and the U.S. has identified a new ancient mammal ancestor recently found in a part of China. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes the creature, which they have ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.