Su Luopei (Robert Spence) Written Expression, WS 2019/2020

Last update: 2019-11-17 16:00 UTC+01:00

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Written Expression / Written Expression (Intermediate), WS 2019/2020

0 General information concerning this course

This course aims to help students to improve their active command of written English. The course is designed essentially for three groups of students:

  1. students of the “classical” degrees that include the subject English;
  2. students of the new “Language Science” B.A.;
  3. ERASMUS students, especially those studying translation and interpreting.

The methodology of the course is informed by genre-based literacy pedagogy, as developed by the ‘Sydney School’ of Systemic Functional Linguistics.

The course begins with a genre-based introduction to text production (3 to 4 weeks). We review some of the key notions of functional grammar and text linguistics, such as clause structure (including Theme and Rheme), cohesion, text type, register, and genre.

This is followed by four writing tasks, each one based on a different genre from the one before. The first, a factual description, is designed for practising paragraph structure and thematic development. The second task, based on a procedural text, involves switching between formal (nominalized) and informal style. The third task is an expository text – a persuasive essay; this task, however, may in future be replaced by a group editing task, to encourage the avoidance of plagiarism. The fourth task is a formal report with recommendations for action.

Before each writing task, we analyse a model text of the same genre to establish what the relevant “text conventions” are: we take the text apart in order to see how it works and what resources are deployed in its construction. We then engage in some “joint construction” of a similar text in class. Students then produce a similar text as homework and send it to the course leader by 4 p.m. on the day before the next session. The day after each assignment is submitted, students receive their texts back with corrections, comments, and other feedback from the teacher. If the groups are very large, we may need to set an earlier deadline – perhaps two days before the class at which the corrected texts will be handed back.

The course will be taught in weekly ninety-minute blocks, in three parallel groups:
Kurs 119714 Gruppe 3: dienstags 14:15–15:45, Geb. A2 2, 1.26
Kurs 119714 Gruppe 4: mittwochs 14:15–15:45, Geb. A2 2, Raum 1.26
Kurs 117969 (primarily for ERASMUS): donnerstags 14:15–15:45, Geb. A2 2, Raum 1.26

Every effort will be made to ensure that the three groups work at the same rate. Students who have to miss a session due to another appointment will thus, ideally, have two other opportunities to catch up on that session.

Students are expected to attend regularly. If you are unable to attend one of the lessons, it is vital that you contact me beforehand to let me know. Missing more than two lessons altogether would seriously compromise your chances of successfully completing the course.

Assessment will be on the basis of a portfolio containing four texts (plus, if required, earlier versions, re-worked versions, etc., of each text) which each student has produced during the semester. There will also be other, shorter exercises, relating to text analysis and to those parts of the grammar of English that are activated or foregrounded by the genre concerned. If desired, some of these can also be included in the portfolio, possibly replacing one of the larger writing tasks.

ERASMUS students can obtain a graded certificate for this course (3 ECTS points) by completing all four of the texts that are to be produced, and by completing all the additional exercises. The amount of additional work required to gain 3 ECTS points instead of 2 ECTS points is equivalent to at least one full weekend’s work (seven or eight hours per day for two days).

All other students will be working towards 2 ECTS points.

The initial reading material to accompany the course is:

M. A. K. Halliday and Ruqaiya Hasan:
Language, context, and text: Aspects of language in a social-semiotic perspective
Deakin University Press, 1985.

The initial reading material will be made available at the beginning of the semester.

Further reading materials may be distributed at the weekly sessions.

All students taking the course should make sure that their correct email address is on the course mailing list. (Online registration is available via LSF, but please try to get to the first lesson so that I can meet you in person!) When sending an email to the course leader, please make sure that the piece of text
(including the square brackets!) is included in the subject line. (This will happen automagically if you are reading any email I have already sent you concerning this course and you simply hit the “Reply” button.) It would also be helpful if you could mention, in the body of the email, which group you attend, or else include more detail in the subject line:

The website will be updated frequently, so please check back regularly, and don’t forget to press the “refresh” button on your browser.

Links to electronic versions of materials distributed in class, and other materials, will be added below:

Plan for Winter Semester 2019/2020

Weekly notes

Here you can find photographs of what was on the whiteboard each week, plus the record of anything that was typed into a text file and projected via the data projector during class. You can identify the files by the date which constitutes most of the filename.

Group 3 (Tuesday):

Group 4 (Wednesday):

Erasmus Group (Thursday):

Question Sheets

Here are the question sheets to accompany the initial reading material:

Vocabulary Lists

Here are the vocabulary lists to accompany the initial reading material:

Some texts to think about

We will at various times be consulting a few short passages of text, with the aim of understanding how English texts work. The texts in question were handed out at the second meeting and are also available here:

(No sources are given for the texts at this stage, as one of the things I wish to do with these texts is get you to guess what their sources might be.)

(Rest of) Handout for Unit 00 (week 1)

Here is the rest of what was handed out at the first meeting:

Handout for Unit 01 (week 2)

Here are the pages that were handed out at the second meeting:

Handout for Unit 02 (week 3)

Here are the pages that were handed out at the second meeting:

Instructions for the unit on Thematic Progression (week 6)

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