Travelling Uncharted Waters?
REVIEWING THE LITERATURE
2.1 Introduction: Storm in a teacup
This part of my research journey was fraught with anxiety, distress and a sense of being lost. Reviewing the literature became my own storm in a teacup, as I found myself dizzily spiralling, being flung between not knowing on the one side, on the verge of knowing at the other, yet continuously feeling out of control, not being here nor there ... caught somewhere between locating, analysing, synthesising and reviewing the expert knowledge. Searching for literature and locating the literature, even with support, was a lonely road. Never have I felt that the more I began to read and know, the less I felt I knew, lost and alone amid so many theories, expert knowledge, data and findings. And so this genre journey became a rumbling of thoughts, ideas and theories to be summarised, referenced and sometimes even violently tossed aside. Reviewing the literature and writing up summaries was a cup of tea, yet I was slowly dissolving, losing my own voice and experiencing a sense of losing of my own identity. In robot-like fashion I found myself speaking and quoting studies done by experts in the field and then became aware of another storm brewing in my teacup: what miniscule contribution could I make? Would I be able to negotiate meaning for an expert audience in this genre field? Would I successfully structure the information according to issues pertinent to my research, and would I be able to identify themes that are linked to my research question? As I attempt to write, my teacup torments and reminds me again that I have become the echoing voice of experts. So during this process I am riding a storm of emotions, wondering whether I will remain a voiceless, writing wanderer, I wonder ... Yet, strangely losing my own voice, reminds me of our learners and teachers at school who face so many challenges with this process called writing. Reflecting on my literature, I pondered putting to practice my knowledge of genre theory and this became one of my storm lanterns. Surely, researching the merits of such a theory should provide me with tools to deconstruct and conquer this silly storm brewing in my tea cup? And so finally, as I begin to let go, embracing this brewing cup of storm, I am steadfastly sensing that many storm lanterns have and will guide me in finding a way to indicate to an expert audience my ability to identify, search, locate and present a coherent review of the literature. At this point the storm is still brewing, at times even raging, never fully abating but it is becoming lesser in intensity. And so, I am realising that this willy-nilly writing storm brewing in my teacup is someone else’s tornado and maybe both of these could be another writer’s cup of tea. This chapter attempts to draw on literature from genre theory, specifically genre theory based on Systemic Functional Linguistics. Hyland (2002) refers to a genre-based approach to teaching writing as being concerned with what learners do when they write. This includes a focus on language and discourse features of the texts as well as the context in which the text is produced. My primary intention is to explore the literature on different approaches to teaching writing and more specifically in what ways a genre-based approach to teaching writing could facilitate the development of writing skills at a multilingual primary school.
2.1.2 Framing the problem
Success after school, whether it is at a tertiary institution or in the world of work, is largely dependent on effective literacy skills. To succeed one has to display a range of communicative skills, for example, listening, speaking, reading and writing tasks. But, most importantly, the quality of one’s writing determines access to higher education and well paid jobs in the world of work. In these scenarios, success or entry is dependent on either passing an English writing proficiency...