[David Schneer, Gordon Myskow, and Naomi Smith. Tokyo: Pearson Longman, 2009. pp. 134. ￥1,600. ISBN: 978-4-342-57414-6-C1082.]
Write on Task 2is an academic writing textbook that uses a task-based approach to teaching academic paragraph writing intended for senior high school and university students. The book utilizes all four language skills—listening, speaking, reading, and writing—through a number of task-oriented activities that introduce students to different themes throughout each chapter. By introducing students to these themes, they are exposed to the idea that in order to write effectively in academic settings, knowledge of how to write in different genres is essential (Johns, 2008).
Hyland (2003) defines genre as “socially recognized ways of using language” (p. 21). Each genre has its own unique discourse markers and structure found in texts that are commonly accepted by discourse communities for that particular genre. Write on Task 2 introduces students to several of these genres and serves as a crucial first step in their mastery of them.
The textbook is divided into four units: Paragraph Format,Sequence,Attributes,andAnalysis. Within each unit, chapters introduce paragraph genres that are presented sequentially in order of difficulty. Working through the book, students are first introduced to the basics of paragraph writing, followed by genres of time-order, process, persuasion, and cause and effect among others. Each chapter takes advantage of the writing process by providing pre-writing, writing, and post-writing activities that scaffold students into writing their own paragraph.
Chapters are divided into five sections: Content,Language,Signal Words,Putting It Together,andFinal Task. Vocabulary is provided in the form of wordlists in the back of the textbook. This can be a good opportunity to assign terms for a pre-assignment. As a preview, chapters start with an initial model paragraph. The model serves as a useful lexical and organizational resource for students to draw from throughout the chapter. In the Content section, students identify the organizational pattern of the paragraph they are learning to write. Tasks involve initially identifying appropriate topic sentences and eventually producing them from an example paragraph provided. Each chapter also includes a mind map that makes the organization of the studied paragraph quite clear. Grammar and form are addressed in the Language section. Explicit grammatical explanations are provided, and then students must identify the correct use of structures. Such grammatical activities performed in context are essential for students to gain a better understanding of how English works (Hyland, 2007). In Signal Words, specific discourse items for paragraphs are introduced. The terms are explicitly provided in list form and students perform fill-in-the-blank tasks to recognize how the words appear in the text. In Putting It Together, students draw from the previous sections in the chapter and perform step-by-step note-taking tasks, which they will eventually use to write a paragraph. As a way for students to apply what they have learned, a Final Task section in the back of the book contains three activities. Students write an original paragraph based on a prompt. They then reflect on their own writing by completing a revision checklist as a post-writing task. The final activity incorporates speaking and listening components that can be done in pairs or groups. Students read their paragraphs to a partner who listens for organizational structure and takes notes in a space provided in the book.
Most students said they liked the step-by-step progression of activities in each chapter. It allowed them to understand the intricacies of each theme and developed their ability to write different types of paragraphs. Many also said they felt more confident in being able to express themselves in their writing after using the textbook. The only issue with the book, however, is that tasks are not consistently formatted. In some chapters, Signal Words is presented with its own heading, while in others it is not. This inconsistency did not interfere with the quality of the content. I was able to successfully use the textbook in a senior high school writing class. My students accomplished our objective of writing academic paragraphs in a range of genres.
Write on Task 2effectively introduces students to the concept of genre and provides them with the lexical, grammatical, and organizational knowledge needed to write academic paragraphs in English. The textbook builds a solid foundation to build on in the future.
Hyland, K. (2003). Genre-based pedagogies: A social response to process. Journal of Second Language Writing, 12(1), 17-29.
Hyland, K. (2007). Genre pedagogy: Language, literacy and L2 writing instruction. Journal of Second Language Writing, 16(3), 148-164.
Johns, A. (2008). Genre awareness for the novice student: An ongoing quest. Language Teaching, 41(2), 237-252.