Challenges concerning argumentative writing in a second language context

May Olaug Horverak


The current study is based on parts of the data collected in a quasi-experiment conducted in four English classes of Norwegian upper secondary school students. The purpose of the quasi-experiment was to explore whether a teaching intervention based on systemic functional linguistics and genre-pedagogy would support students in improving their competence in writing argumentative texts in English. The improvement was measured by comparing evaluations of pre-and post-tests. The current study investigates what seemed to be the main challenges for Norwegian students concerning this type of genre in a second language context based on the pre-tests and the evaluations of the pre-tests. The most challenging aspect seems to be how to write thorough argumentation and discussion and to use sources in an independent and correct manner. Other challenging features seem to be how to structure texts and how to adjust the language to appropriate levels of formality and modality. To meet these challenges, this article advocates introducing genre-pedagogy as a teaching approach in ESL-contexts (English as a second language). This would ensure a focus on how to construct arguments through detailed instruction and to adjust the writing to purpose and situation.

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