A Genre-Register Analysis of a Tourism Brochure Written by Students in an EMI University Context

A Genre-Register Analysis of a Tourism Brochure Written by Students in an EMI University Context

María del Mar Sánchez Pérez (University of Almería, Spain) and María Enriqueta Cortés de los Ríos (University of Almería, Spain)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2930-9.ch015
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Abstract

Research conducted at university level reveals that students usually have difficulties in performing cognitive and discursive operations involved in the production of academic and specialized texts, which aggravate when these activities are developed in non-native language. The purpose of this chapter is to analyze a tourism brochure written by students in an English-Medium Instruction (EMI) higher education context from a combined genre-register approach. Particularly, it aims to examine the students' main strengths and weaknesses when writing this particular text genre. A compilation of 37 tourism brochures written in English by Spanish university students is analyzed qualitatively according to an analytic rating scale inspired by Friedl and Auer (2007). Results show that students perform better in terms of register, whereas significant deficiencies regarding genre and discourse are found. This reveals that explicit teaching of discourse and genre issues in university classrooms is necessary in order to help students produce higher-quality specialized texts.
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Introduction

Research conducted at university level reveals that university students often have difficulty in performing the cognitive and discursive operations involved in the comprehension and production of written texts (Atienza & López, 1997; Carlino, 2004, 2005). These difficulties aggravate when this written performance is conducted in a non-native language. In higher education, both university lecturers and students belong to certain communities of knowledge and practice, understood by Lave and Wenger (1991) as social learning contexts that occur when people who have a common interest in a subject or area collaborate over an extended period of time. In EMI university contexts, the foreign language needs thus to be acquired considering the different genre types used in different subjects as products connected to particular fields of knowledge. Language needs to be understood as text and discourse, rather than merely from a sentence perspective, as in other traditional language teaching approaches.

The notion of discourse communities, defined by Swales (1990) and Bhatia (1993, 2004) as groups of speakers who are organized in communities in which they perform social and discursive practices, turns explanatory to understand the place occupied by language and the difficulties imposed by writing academic or professional texts in higher education. The shared knowledge of such groups is expressed by an expert or specialized discourse, i.e. a set of texts that are distinguished and grouped around a specific non-daily topic, in which prior disciplinary experience and specialized training within a particular conceptual domain is required to participants. These texts reveal a predominantly referential communicative function and circulate in particular situations, which imply that all the many unique features are articulated in ‘complex semiotic systems’ (Parodi, 2005, p. 26). The comprehension and production of such specialized texts constitute a highly complex task for university students, particularly when conducted in a foreign language.

The language of tourism is one of the most particular specialized languages framed within the language for advertising. The study of tourism discourse is increasingly drawing scholars’ attention (Aragón, Eurrutia & Planelles, 2007; Cortés de los Ríos & Cruz, 2004; Cortés de los Ríos & Corral, 2016; Jing Luo, 2015; Montes, 2007). However, very few studies have addressed specifically the analysis of tourism genres written by students in bilingual or EMI university contexts. The purpose of this chapter is to analyze a tourism brochure written by students in an English-Medium Instruction (EMI) higher education context from a combined perspective: genre and register (Alcaraz, 2000; Alcaraz et al., 2007). Particularly, it aims to examine the students’ main strengths and weaknesses when writing this particular text genre.

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