Genres in young learner L2 English writing

A genre typology for the TRAWL (Tracking Written Learner Language) corpus

  • Ingrid Kristine Hasund University of Agder
Keywords: Genre, genre typology, young learner corpora, young learner writing, L2 English writing in Norway.


In learner corpus research, it is well known that one should control for genre when collecting and analysing written L2 (second language) English data, as genre is one factor that has been shown to account for language variation. This article presents a genre typology for annotating learner texts from the lower secondary level in Norway (ages 13-15, school years 8-10). The data are drawn from TRAWL (Tracking Written Learner Language), a new learner corpus currently under compilation. As the TRAWL corpus will be openly available for research, it is important that the typology is clearly described, which is the primary aim of the present study.

Little research has been carried out on younger learners, and no detailed genre typology exists for classifying learner texts at the lower secondary level. Therefore, a genre typology developed by Ørevik (2019) for the upper secondary level was tested on data from TRAWL using a functional, social semiotic perspective and a mixed-methods (quantitative and qualitative) approach. The analysis showed that Ørevik’s typology was largely suitable for annotating the selected TRAWL data and only had to be slightly modified.

By highlighting some of the theoretical and methodological challenges with the genre typology, the analysis may inform discussions about genre in L2 English teaching, which was a secondary aim of the present study. Not only do the results mirror the tensions in the international debate within genre research, they also mirror the everyday challenges of lower secondary school teachers/examiners, who seem to adopt an eclectic approach to genre.