Features of Genre Checklists
  • prepared by the EAL faculty 2006 as its contribution to Taking Action for Literacy
  • part of the St Aloysius College Literacy Strategy
  • intended to be used by students in Years 8-12 with teacher help as needed
  • provides a checklist of features of common genres and text types
  • strengthens the use of common terminology and understanding
  • opportunities for subject specific requirements to be added by facilities
  • the checklists are deliberately minimalist
  • further ideas, exemplars and templates can be found in the references listed
  • Book Review
    Response Genre
    A book review offers information about a book and critical appraisal

    Structure

    • Lead-in sentence to state the topic and capture interest
    • Introduction identifies the title, author and type of book
    • Brief plot summary: only main events and a few details for interest
    • May include a summary of theme
    • May include a discussion of characters
    • Comment on author’s style
    • Conclusion includes a recommendation

    Language features

    • Includes opinion and subjective language
    • May include quotations
    • Present or past tense to retell the story (used consistently)
    • Chronological linking words for retelling events (later, then…)
  • Description
    Factual Genre
    Describes a person, place or thing

    Structure

    • Statement to inform the reader of the topic being described
    • Opening sentence should engage reader’s interest
    • A series of paragraphs each giving details of different aspects
    • Does not contain opinion or evaluation

    Language features

    • Rich choice of words and synonyms
    • Vary the foregrounding in sentences to add interest
    • Opportunity to expand word choice
      • Nouns and noun groups
      • Adjectives
      • Adverbs and adverbial groups
    • Often written in the present tense
    • Verbs which express feeling and being / existing
    • May contain subjective language
  • Discussion
    Factual and Response Genre
    A discussion explores several sides of an issue

    Structure

    • Lead-in sentence to state the topic and capture interest
    • No view on the question in the introduction
    • Should include signposts to the issues to be raised
    • A balanced presentation of the issues
    • One argument per paragraph
    • Paragraphs must have a topic sentence followed by elaboration with evidence and examples
    • Conclusion summarises the main points with new information
    • The conclusions ncludes your own view – for/ against / on the fence. It should be a strong statement (e.g. It can be concluded that…”

    Language features

    • Keep a distance from the topic
    • No emotional language
    • Occasional dramatic questions for effect (rhetorical questions)
    • Write about the topic in general terms
    • Verbs iclude “agree” “ disagree” (It is believed that… ; Experts agree that…)
    • Nominalisation of concepts
  • Explanation
    Factual Genre
    An Explanation explains processes

    Structure

    • A lead-in sentence to state the topic and position the reader
    • Introduction should include signpost sentences
    • Start with known information
    • Series of sequential paragraphs
    • Conclusion summarises content
    • Conclusion contains no new information

    Language features

    • Avoid using the first and second person; generalised participants
    • Use timeless present tense
    • Use passive voice (is made; is placed)
    • Use correct technical terms
    • Linking words and phrases expressing sequence (after..; then…; next…; finally)
    • Exact details or information
  • Exposition (Argument)
    Factual Genre
    An exposition argues or persuades for or against

    Structure

    • A lead-in sentence to state the topic and capture interest
    • Introduction should include signpost sentences to the issues to be raised
    • One paragraph per main idea.
    • Each paragraph starts with a topic sentence containing an assertion
    • Arguments should show logical progression
    • Prioritise and sequence arguments
    • Conclusion summarises content
    • Conclusion contains no new information
    • Conclusion restates your view in different words

    Language features

    • It is best to avoid using the first person
    • Use strong modal verbs such as “must, “should”, “will not”
    • Use words expressing certainty: definitely, ultimately, undoubtedly, unequivocally
    • Linking words and phrases expressing cumulation: Furthermore…; In addition…; Moreover…
    • Acknowledge sources of information
    • Avoidance of “I” is not always possible in an argument essay e.g. “I believe…”
  • Film Review
    Response Genre
    A film review gives information about a film and offers critical appraisal

    Structure

    • Lead-in sentence to state the topic and capture interest
    • Introduction identifies the title, type of film and maybe the actors
    • Introduction should include signposts the rest of the review
    • Brief plot summary: only main events and a few details for interest
    • May include a summary of theme
    • May include a discussion of the actors
    • Do not divulge the ending
    • Includes a recommendation

    Language features

    • Includes opinion and subjective language (exhilarated, disappointed)
    • Technical film terms (close-up; unfolds; angle; landscape)
    • Present or past tense to retell the story (used consistently)
    • Chronological linking words for retelling events (later, then…)
    • Thinking, feeling, observing verbs (anticipated; shuddered; thrilled)
  • Information report
    Factual report
    A report presents information about a subject

    Structure

    • Opening statement
      • lead in sentence to state the topic and capture interest
      • may include a short description of the subject
      • may include definition
      • may include classification or categorisation of types
    • Paragraphs
      • each paragraph is about a different aspect of the subject.
      • begins with a topic or a preview sentence
      • focus is on facts not opinion
    • Conclusion
      • summarises the information presented
      • does not include any new information
  • Interview
    Factual, Story or Response Genre
    An Interview is a process for obtaining information, a story or a response

    Structure

    • Background information to avoid questions about well-known facts
    • Clear idea of the purpose of the interview
    • Carefully prepared questions
    • Ask questions in an appropriate manner
    • Record and interpret answers
    • Identify key points
    • Reconstruct the results

    Language features

    • Register : politeness and formality
    • Body language and inter-personal manner
    • Open-ended and closed questions
    • Modality; care in the use of why questions
    • Follow-up questions and unexpected leads
    • Transition strategies when switching topics
  • Letter to the Editor
    Response Genre
    A letter to the editor is an example of a formal letter expressing an opinion, a complaint, an argument or giving information

    Structure

    • Use the conventions of a formal letter
    • Introduce the topic and your opinion early
    • May be a reference to a previous letter or article
    • Usually a mix of fact and opinion
    • Organise paragraphs with details to support your opinion
    • Paragraph length may vary

    Language features

    • Formal term of address (Dear Sir or Dear Editor)
    • Persuasive language
    • Subjective but not too emotional
    • Language should be formal
    • A direct appeal to the editor or readers
  • Narrative
    Story Genre

    Structure

    • Orientation
    • Complication(s) or conflict
    • Sequence of events
    • Resolution
    • Coda (optional): a comment or evaluation of events in the story

    Language features

    • Opening words capture reader’s interest
    • May use storytelling conventions (especially in Myths, Fairytales: “Once upon a time”)
    • First or third person storyteller or “voice”
    • Process or action verbs to recount events
    • Most often in the past tense, but may be in the immediate present for effect
    • Vary sentences length: simple, compound or complex
    • Short sentences increase tension; longer sentences provide contrast and detail
    • Time words connect events (e.g. After that…; Then…; A few moments later…)
    • Noun groups describe characters and settings (e.g. the noisy children playing in the park)
    • Dialogue develops action and characters
    • Tense may change within the dialogue
  • Procedure
    Factual Genre
    A procedure gives instructions

    Structure

    • A lead-in sentence to state the goal
    • Start with a list of materials
    • Series of sequential sentences which may be numbered
    • Check the order of the sentences
    • Concluding sentence expresses success

    Language features

    • Use command words (Cut..; Pour…; Fold…)
    • Most sentences start with a verb
    • Use correct technical terms
    • Linking words and phrases expressing sequence (first…; then…; next…; finally)
    • Exact details or information
  • Recount
    Story Genre
    A recount retells past events in the order in which they happened

    Structure

    • Orientation: sets the scene
    • Sequence of events in the order in which they happened
    • (optional) a final personal comment or reflection

    Language features

    • Opening words capture reader’s interest
    • May use the first person
    • Most often in the past tense, but may be in the immediate present for effect
    • Vary sentences length: simple, compound or complex
    • Short sentences increase tension; longer sentences provide contrast and detail
    • Time words connect events (e.g. As soon as….; Eventually…; Then…; A few moments later…)
    • Noun groups describe people and places (e.g. the noisy children playing in the park)
    • May include reported or direct speech (She said …….)
  • Research
    Research Skills
    Information literacy is the ability to access, evaluate, organise and use information

    Structure

    DEFINING your topic

    • underline the key words in the task
    • brainstorm what is already known about the topic
    • pose questions to investigate

    LOCATING your information

    • determine the range of possible sources
    • list keywords and search terms
    • identify which sources best answer the question

    SELECTING your information

    • select a variety of resources (books, online sources, journals…)
    • skim and scan the text looking for keywords and phrases
    • select information that answers your focus questions
    • ensure information is recent, relevant, accurate and unbiased
    • record sources in a bibliography

    ORGANISING your information

    • organise notes under headings
    • determine which information is most important
    • check that the focus questions have been answered
    • use own words or cite references

    EVALUATING your work

    • check that the question was answered
    • reflect on new skills learnt
    • reflect on skills that need to be improved
  • Speech
    Factual and Response Genres
    A speech is an oral presentation of information or a response

    Structure

    • Statement to inform the reader of the topic and purpose
    • Opening sentence to engage the audience
    • Ideas and information organised and linked
    • Short chunks of information which the audience can digest
    • Pausing for effect and to check audience response
    • Ideas not always fully developed as in an essay
    • Conclusion may include an example a recommendation

    Language features

    • Address the audience group (class; ladies and gentlemen)
    • Repetition and restatement of ideas
    • Personal language (I, you, we)
    • Some colloquial language
    • Phrases and short sentences or isolated words may be used for effect
    • Questions may help to set up a conversation with the audience
  • Literacy Support Material
    Writing Skills

    Essay Writing Skills
    – Learn how to analyse your question, then plan and write a great essay. From State Library of Victoria

    Writing Skills
    – tutorials and videos explaining topics: Paraphrasing, Linking words, Paragraphs, Sentence construction, Spelling and Academic style. From RMIT University

 

References:
Anderson, M 1997, Text types in English, Macmillan, 1998.
Eisenberg, M and Berkowitz, R 2013, ‘The Big6’, Big6Associates, viewed 12 May 2013, <http://big6.com/>.
English Elements (series), Jacaranda Wiley, Milton, Qld.
Excel essential skills (series), Pascal, Glebe, N.S.W.
Schill, J 1998, On track: working with texts, Heinemann, Port Melbourne.
Targeting text (series), Blake Education, Glebe N.S.W.
Whitfield, M 2001, Targeting writing across the curriculum, Blake Education, Glebe, N.S.W.