Purpose– This paper, which originates in an English-as-a-foreign-language (EFL) classroom activity in Hong Kong, aims to explore English learners’ expressive and creative potential in writing by studying their work in the literary narrative genre. Design/methodology/approach– A group of upper secondary students (15-16 years of age) with limited English resources and competence was enlisted to remake a folktale with visual and written prompts. Findings– The writing samples demonstrate that these low-level EFL writers are able to refashion the narrative elements, and to communicate meanings for their own purposes. They exhibit logicality and problem-solving skills in their attempts to challenge and transform idea and to include themes of interest to them. There is also evidence of creative play with language in their use of dialogues and figures of speech. Research limitations/implications– These writing outcomes suggest the need to re-vision English language arts practices in increasingly diverse education systems. Genre-based instruction, with its emphasis on “writing to mean” as a social activity supported by learning to use language, could lead to widening EFL learners’ access to genre knowledge and to greater life chances. Practical implications– A linguistics-based pedagogy scaffolding less able EFL writers while they learn to build effective narratives is identified as a way forward. Originality/value– Although the idea of using narratives to engage EFL learners in writing is not entirely new, this paper contributes to the field by responding to low-level learners’ writing that goes beyond linguistic “correctness”, and developing strategies for supporting creativity and language play.
English Teaching: Practice & Critique – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 7, 2015
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