Increasing students' awareness of genre through text transformation exercises: An old classroom activity revisited
University of Aarhus, Denmark
Students learning to write in L2 need to be aware of text genres: not simply of generic conventions, but of genre in the wider sense of communicative events or acts. This article claims that transforming texts from one genre to another, using information and ideas in the source text to create new texts for different audiences and purposes, helps students to become aware of and take into account genre-related features such as writer-reader relationship, purpose of writing, and medium. As well as discussing the advantages and drawbacks of using text transformation tasks on a writing course, both from theoretical and practical viewpoints, the article outlines how work on such tasks may be organised, and gives examples of task types. However, text transformation is a very flexible type of exercise, adaptable to different approaches to teaching writing, and to classes of different levels and with different writing goals.
Writing effective texts, whether in L1 or L2, involves many different areas of knowledge and skill. These include the ability to generate suitable content, and to organise that content coherently; the ability to form syntactically correct sentences, and to link them to form coherent text; and the knowledge of a sufficiently wide range of vocabulary and syntactic patterns to express a variety of concepts. All this is already demanding a great deal of a writer. However, this is not all that is necessary. One very important factor is the ability to select appropriate content and language to suit the communicative task on hand. The relatively recent interest we have seen in research on text genres has revealed how great a range of subtle choices are made by writers in creating texts for different occasions and purposes. For the writer in a foreign language, acquiring the ability to make appropriate choices in order to create text which a reader will regard as suitable must be considered a major task, requiring both recognition of the differences between genres and the linguistic resources to take these differences into account. [-1-]
Broadly speaking, genre research aims to group texts according to type, and to identify and describe features which texts of a particular genre have in common. The definition of the term genre varies somewhat between different writers, but most follow Swales (1990) and Bahtia (1993) in relating the concept of genre to communicative events or acts. In such approaches, genres are defined not in terms of their language, but by features which could be described as external to the text itself. These include areas such as text purpose, writer/reader relationships, and the medium of communication (e.g. newspaper article, letter, e-mail message). These external characteristics naturally have implications for what I will call internal features of the text, including areas such as syntax, lexical choice, organization, layout, etc. The result is that texts within a given genre are likely to share certain of these internal features, though it is also possible for texts within the same genre to differ very considerably in terms of their language and structure.
The ways in which texts can be seen to differ from or be similar to one another are extremely complex. Biber (1988 and later works) has used computer analyses of large corpora to demonstrate that different types of text vary from one another along numerous independent dimensions, creating a very large number of different text types. Thus, to take Biber's own example, we might expect to find that "formal" texts are marked by features such as frequent use of passive forms and nominalizations, and that "informal" texts display frequent use of personal pronouns and contractions. However, there are genres in which texts typically display high levels of use of all these four features and others that display low levels of use of all of them. Such multidimensional distinctions render terms such as "formal" and "informal" far too broad to describe satisfactorily the characteristics that distinguish texts from one another.
Biber distinguishes (in his 1988 terminology, later changed) between genres and text types; genres he defines, much like Swales, as being groups of texts with shared external characteristics such as purpose. He uses "text type" to refer to groups of texts with similar text-internal features such as syntactic patterns. He points out that while some genres tend to comprise texts that are normally very similar in terms of text type, there are other genres in which great variety of text type is possible.
Biber's work underlines the complexity of the task which writers-- and especially L2 writers--face in taking genre into account. For any genre, a range of text types may be appropriate, but the range is far from infinite, and an error in setting the parameters in the multiple dimensions along which a text type may vary can result in the creation of an inappropriate text type. A further factor not taken into account in the foregoing, though important in Swales' description of genre, relates to convention. There have evolved a variety of linguistic conventions associated with certain genres. To [-2-] take a simple example, there is a convention that a letter in English normally begins "Dear xxx"; such an opening can safely be used in any letter. However, beginning a letter "Darling xxx" would be appropriate in only very few situations, despite the fact that "dear" and "darling" would appear on the face of it to be similar expressions. Only convention dictates the use of "dear". Generic conventions can of course be deliberately flouted, and frequently are--or parodied, or varied--but they cannot simply be ignored. Skilled writers need to know what the conventions are, and use that knowledge in their writing.
Australian researchers such as Martin have recognised the empowering nature of mastery of genres, and have consequently urged the use of genre-based writing teaching in the Australian school system (see Gee, 1997 for a concise account of this research). The reverse side of the coin is equally valid: inadequate mastery of genre is a major problem in written communication. Failure to implement generic factors adequately may result in giving the impression to a reader that the writer is, perhaps, uneducated, weak, unenthusiastic, or deliberately insulting (see Appendix Task 1 for an invented illustration). This is precisely because the concept of genre is involved with factors such as writer/reader relationships and text purpose. A text that sends the wrong generic signals may, for example, suggest that the writer is attempting to claim too close a relationship with the reader, or is being too distant. Generic errors result in misinterpretation not so much of core meaning as of attitudes. Comparisons of texts by L2 writers and native speakers illustrate the ways in which their completion of writing tasks differs in terms of generic features as well as in terms of linguistic accuracy and range (see, for example, the work of Connor, Davis & de Rycker (1995) comparing covering letters in English sent with job applications written by Flemish and American writers).
Some recent approaches to teaching second-language writing have recognised the importance of helping students to be aware of genre. There are obvious applications in the teaching of English for Specific Purposes, and the work of Swales (1990), which concentrated particularly on the genre of the academic paper, has been especially influential in the field of English for Academic Purposes. However, genre considerations have implications for all L2 learners who need or want to write in the target language, not just college students studying abroad who need to write academic essays, or people needing to master a specific and perhaps fairly limited workplace genre. Insofar as any given piece of writing is a communicative act, generic considerations will be important in creating it. Naturally, the writer's level of knowledge of the language code (syntax, word formation, etc.) also determines the success of the text, and indeed the extent to which awareness of genre can be translated into effective writing. [-3-]
When students have an immediate need to work within one genre, a focus on that single genre may be an effective teaching method. Focus on the linguistic features of the appropriate text type(s) through modelling, feedback on writing, etc. can probably achieve a reasonable degree of conformity with the expectations a reader will have for texts within the genre. For example, preparatory courses for students wishing to begin university studies in an L2 environment may well focus in just such an explicit manner on the genre of academic writing. Shaw and Liu (1998), while not discussing teaching approach explicitly, demonstrate that students attending such courses did learn to make the language of their texts closer to the conventional language of (one style of) academic writing.
However, Freedman (1993) argues that attempts at explicit teaching of particular genres may be unhelpful, at the very least, and quite possibly detrimental. (This is, of course, except in situations such as that described above, where students are already or are about to become actively engaged in writing texts of a particular and limited genre). She appears to have in mind especially genres that are associated with texts of very fixed patterns or language features, and her argument draws heavily on Krashen's views regarding the limited value of explicit language instruction. However, she suggests (pp. 246-7) that teaching about and raising awareness of the importance of generic factors in general may well be of value to all writers.
While not fully accepting the underlying premises of Freedman's argument, I can agree with her that trying to teach a set of language features associated with texts of specific genres is likely to be of limited value to students who wish to improve their general ability to write in L2. For one thing, as Biber has shown, many genres do not use exclusively text types that have very fixed language features and conventions. For another, a focus on the internal features that texts within a genre have in common may ignore other important features that are also genre-related, but appear in only some exemplars of the genre. Further, a course focusing on a single genre or group of closely related genres is likely to give only limited consideration to the way that factors (such as communicative purpose) result in choice of specific forms for the text. This is true because communicative purpose, writer/reader relationship, etc. will be the same or almost the same in all cases. Finally, as soon as more than one genre is studied, or a genre is studied for which students have no immediate use, students are likely to have difficulty remembering which surface- level patterns are appropriate to which genres, if their learning is not based on some deeper understanding. In other words, I would argue with Freedman that for improving general writing skills, teaching general principles on how genre-related factors relate to the internal features of a text is likely to be more effective than [-4-] teaching specific features associated with individual genres. This is provided that students also learn how to implement those general principles and have practice in doing so.
Biber (1995) suggests that all cultures share the concept of shaping text to take account of generic factors, and further, that the ways that texts are adjusted in relation to genre may show similarities across languages. If this is so, the concepts may well be intuitively familiar to L2 students who are already literate in L1, but they will probably have only limited awareness of precisely how the principles can be realised in English. Furthermore, limitations in their own range of language may lead them towards the use of a single all-purpose style of writing in which text types are undifferentiated in many ways. A genre-focussed course, then, needs both to make students more aware of the concept of genre and the way it affects texts and increase their ability to differentiate their language and text structures through the use of a greater linguistic range.
Reading L2 texts of different genres, coupled with discussion of various features of such texts that make them appropriate to their communicative situation, will be one important course component. Flowerdew (1993) suggests various ways in which students can approach the analysis of different genres. Students will also be encouraged to read independently, again with the concept of generic differences in mind. Note that such reading should not be restricted to genres which students themselves wish to write. For one thing, we cannot generally predict exactly what types of texts students might want to write some day, even on a so-called "ESP" course, so limiting reading to texts we think our students should be able to write at the present time is restricting. It is also important to realize that the genre of a text is recognizable not only by its internal features, but by the features of other genres that it does not have; genres are in part defined and identified contrastively. For this reason, students need a broad awareness of many different types of genre, and this they will only get by reading and discussing a wide range of texts.
Another activity that will be part of a genre-focused L2 writing course is likely to be writing texts of a variety of types. Again, we may wish to go beyond the genres of text that we can predict our students will need to write in the immediate future. The range and complexity of texts we might ask our students to write will probably not be as great as the range and complexity of texts we ask them to read. I also maintain that we cannot expect students to be able to write texts of even just one or two genres successfully if they have never attempted to go beyond these to establish precisely where the boundaries lie between one genre and another. Furthermore, not only is it interesting and enjoyable to experiment with other kinds of text than those one expects to write, but all such work increases awareness of the importance of the various factors related to genre. [-5-]
The main aim of this article is to draw attention to a type of learning task that combines the two types of activity--the reading and the writing of texts of different genres--discussed briefly above. Put simply, tasks of this type consist of reading, and often discussing, a text of one particular genre, and then using some or all of the information and ideas contained in that text to create a new text of a different genre. For example, students might read a tourist brochure about a medium-sized town, and use the information given in the tourist brochure to create an encyclopedia entry about the town. Or students might read part of a letter about business matters written to a personal friend, and use the information in it to write a more formal business letter conveying the same information to a business contact who is not a personal friend. Or they might read an excerpt from a handbook on, say, birds, and use the information given there to write a nature column for a local newspaper. The source texts will normally be authentic , though specially prepared texts could also be used, especially at lower levels. Such exercises I will call text transformation tasks. Fuller examples of two such tasks, complete with source texts, are given in the Appendix (Tasks 2 and 3).
What is involved in such an exercise is:
In addition to the above, it will often be useful to study and discuss texts of the target genre, i.e., texts of the type that students will write. This is particularly so in cases where [-6-] conventions of the genre are important--for example, in certain types of business communication. However, it should be clear by now that I am not in general advocating the use of stereotyped models where students are expected to simply "slot" text elements into a rigid template. Not only are many such exercises likely to be of relatively little value from a learning point of view, but in addition, texts which can really be written in this way are confined to a fairly small number of types and situations. Rather, by discussing texts related in genre to the one they are about to write, students will increase their general knowledge of the common formal features of texts within the genre.
"Text transformation" is not in itself a new idea--on the contrary. Exercises where students are required to write a text on the basis of another can be found in various forms in many writing courses and writing examinations. Indeed, some of the most "traditional" of writing exercises, such as summary and translation, are types of text transformation. However, I have found that this old teaching idea fits in perfectly with the modern interest in genre, since it makes explicit both differences between genres and the way that all texts are related to audience, purpose and medium. In addition, it has various other advantages connected with aspects of teaching writing.
First, these tasks involve careful examination of a source text. Not only does this text need to be read for meaning, but also some analysis is required of the features that make it suitable for its particular audience, purpose and medium. Other texts of the same type as the "target" text may also be read and similarly analysed. These activities can be done in or outside class, by students working individually or in groups, according to how accustomed they are to this type of work. Such reading activities not only expose learners to authentic language in use, but they involve analytical reading that increases awareness of the factors that shape texts, and the way that the language of texts reflects these factors. The reading may not be "authentic" in that the purpose of reading is different from that originally envisaged by the writer. On the other hand, there are many types of text for which it is difficult to create the classroom conditions for them to be read "authentically", and this reading is at least very purposeful.
Second, these exercises present students with writing tasks in which, though the students still have plenty of freedom and flexibility, there are nevertheless a number of constraints on their writing. The task requires them to express certain concepts in their writing; furthermore, the source text may well provide them with some of the vocabulary--even possibly the syntax--necessary to do this. This will perhaps both introduce new language and provide a way of using it in a relevant context. Two potential problems with [-7-] freer writing tasks in which students write more or less what they like can be:
These problems can mean that less ambitious students in particular are able to recycle language they can handle easily, without necessarily venturing into more challenging territory. One might suggest that this is reasonable, provided the student achieves a satisfactory level of self-expression, but I would argue that real- life writing very often involves writing what we must do rather than which we want to. Consequently, an exercise which to some extent replicates this has its uses.
Next, text transformation engages the entire class in solving the same communicative problem. To see the advantages of this, consider an obvious alternative to text transformation in teaching genre, namely setting a freer writing exercise where all the students in a class are required to write a text within a particular genre, but without using any common source material. For example, one might ask students to write an editorial for the school's newsletter on a topic chosen by them. Students may then be interested to see each other's final texts, but their interest will be largely in the content of what other people wrote (which is, of course, all well and good, but it largely ignores a major part of the effort that went into the writing). Follow-up work in class other than "publishing" the student texts will probably be limited; the main follow-up will come in the individual feedback from teacher to students. In text transformation exercises, on the other hand, the interest for students in seeing texts written by other members of the class lies in seeing not so much what other people said, but how they said it. They will be interested in how other writers managed to find solutions to the same problems that they themselves battled with. This is qualitatively different from seeing how other students manage to solve grammar exercises, or the like; this involves seeing how others overcome complex communication problems. This leads to fruitful post-writing discussions and follow-up work in class; students are likely to have had a number of common problems that will make such follow-up work meaningful for everybody.
A further advantage of giving the same communicative problem for everyone to solve is that it makes collaborative writing in pairs, or even threes, much more practicable. Occasional collaborative writing is interesting and potentially useful, in that it can get students to explain to each other their reasons for wanting to write something in a particular way. This will again increase awareness of what they are doing and the decisions they are making as they write. However, freer writing exercises are often ineffective when done [-8-] collaboratively. Pairs who can write content creatively together are rare. Frequently the finished text turns out to be the work of one dominant person in the group whose ideas it expresses, this being the only practical way for the group to get anything produced at all. By providing a tighter framework for text production, text transformation tasks make discussion of content, text organisation, and choice of vocabulary and syntax within a group much more viable. Even so, it should be noted that not all such exercises are suitable for collaborative writing, and some students dislike collaborative writing under any circumstances.
The writing process itself in this type of exercise is in some respects simpler, in others more complex, than for more "normal" writing. It is simpler in that writers do not have to agonize over content creation. They may well have to select appropriate content from what is in the source text, but the problem of finding something to write about simply does not exist. Whether this is a good or bad thing is debatable. However, it solves a potential problem for some less imaginative writers who have difficulty if they are required to find a topic for writing. It can be argued that the "expressive" school of process writing approaches focuses too much on a skill of idea-generating which is not always of much use to students outside the writing classroom a second language. While the writing process is simplified and eased in one respect, it is at the same time more complex; writers are forced to focus on considerations of audience, purpose and genre conventions both in organising their material and in the precise wording and phrasing that they use. The need to differentiate the new text from the source text, so far as is relevant with respect to these considerations, brings key elements of writing into sharper focus. Writers are encouraged to move away from the lower order skills of knowledge telling and towards the higher order skills involved in knowledge transforming, to use the concepts put forward by Bereiter and Scardamalia (1987).
By focusing on the communicative factors associated with genre, students become more aware of writing as a process of problem solving. They learn what questions they have to ask themselves in order to create appropriate writing, and they begin to learn how to respond to the answers at which they arrive. In particular, they learn that there are many different ways of communicating the same message, and that choice of language and text organisation to communicate their message depends to a large extent on audience, communicative purpose and generic convention. Even students who write accurately in a second language often have a fairly limited range of vocabulary and syntax on which they habitually draw, with the effect that they tend to write everything in much the same style, irrespective of communicative context. Text transformation sharpens awareness of the need to consider more than surface-level accuracy. [-9-]
I will mention one final advantage of this type of exercise, and that is a very practical one for the teacher: it is much easier to give individual written feedback when everyone in a class is tackling the same communicative problem! Rather than being confronted with a mass of different texts, each written with different content and aims, one has instead an assortment of variations on a theme. One learns from the different approaches taken by each student, and builds up a better understanding of what is involved in the task with each piece read. Comments to individual students can then be more useful, and often more detailed; it becomes easier to suggest alternatives; and where problems repeat themselves, it is even possible to duplicate some of the comments one gives (which, if you write on a computer, becomes very easy indeed). Written feedback to individual students is thus often better and fuller, but it is actually written more quickly. And while working on students' texts, the teacher is also discovering common problems that many members of the class have that can be taken up in a group follow-up session, as mentioned above.
Feedback on the exercise will in fact include not only teacher's comments (and perhaps peers' comments), but can come simply from seeing other solutions to the task. I sometimes show students my own attempt at the task. At other times, I show them solutions by their peers. Occasionally, one can devise a task for which there is a "real life" solution, in which an authentic text of the genre students were asked to produce has actually been written on the basis of the information (or very similar information) the students had available. Whatever the source of "solutions" the students see, they are able to get much more out of looking at these texts prepared by others because they have already attempted the task themselves. They may in fact become highly critical (with justification) of my suggested solution, or any authentic solution I might have found.
In these exercises, all or most of the information in the source text is taken over into the final text, often in the same sequence. Exercises of this type can focus strongly on specific features of a text, such as vocabulary or syntax. For example, one can take an informative text written for an adult, native speaker audience, and adapt it for children (see Appendix Task 2), or for non-native speakers with limited knowledge of the language. One can take a verbatim record of spoken language, as produced in an interview, and make it suitable for a written context, such as a newspaper report [-10-] of the interview. One can take an informal letter, and make it formal. Such exercises can make useful preliminaries for tackling more complex (and perhaps more interesting) tasks. However, even in tasks such as these it often becomes apparent that writing for a different audience really requires more than simple surface-level adjustment of the language. Writing for children, for example, is not simply a case of ensuring that they will be able to cope with the vocabulary used; a very different approach may be required to that used in writing for adults in order to make the writing accessible and interesting for the new audience. Similarly, some of the content of a personal letter will be unsuitable for inclusion in if the relationship between writer and reader is thought of as being a formal one.
In this instance, the task is more clearly not one of conversion from one genre to another, but one of creating a text for a given purpose, audience and medium (See Appendix Task 3). As with many types of writing, information and ideas for the content of the text are selected from a source or sources. The only difference in this type of exercise is that the source text may not be of the type that one would normally draw on in writing a text of the final type. For example, one exercise for advanced students I have used has as a source text a newspaper article about police research showing that motorway accidents are often caused by company motorists (e.g. sales representatives) driving for too long and falling asleep. Students are required to use the information in the article to create a government safety leaflet for company motorists giving advice on how to recognise the symptoms of drowsiness, and what can be done to refresh themselves. The information needed is all in the newspaper article, though in a very different form. Obviously government leaflets would not normally be created on the basis of newspaper articles (though both the news report and such a government leaflet might well based on the same original research report). Other exercises may be much more "realistic"--for example, the use of reference material from a handbook on birds to write a chatty nature column, which I mentioned earlier. Presumably, this is just how the writer of such a column would make use of source material.
If working with monolingual classes, students, teachers or administrators may well want translation included in the teaching programme. Regarding translation as another type of text transformation adds a whole new dimension to this otherwise often unrealistic exercise. The teacher who hands out an L1 text and tells a class "Translate this into English" has omitted a number of factors in his/her instructions, and without them it is really impossible to carry out the task adequately. How can one translate a text without knowing who will read it, why they will read it, and [-11-] under what circumstances they will read it? If a Danish newspaper article is to be translated into English, for example, then it is perhaps to be published in a similar British newspaper. Only when this is made clear can a realistic translation be made. Students can then take into account the fact that a British audience will have different background knowledge to the original Danish audience; some schemata which would be activated by Danes in reading the text will not be activated by British readers, and some additional explanations may therefore be necessary. The interests of the British readership may be different to those of the Danish readers; the information that would be most relevant to them might not be that which was of most interest to a Danish audience. This could mean that the text will need to be re-sequenced, and perhaps some information omitted. In the end, the "translation" might be a very different text from the original in terms of its content and structure--but that is what I believe real translation is about, as opposed to classroom exercises which are mainly aimed at comparing the vocabulary and syntax of L1 and L2. Translation in the real world is actually a special type of text transformation.
On many occasions, students comment on the decisions they have made in writing their texts. This is, of course, something that can be done in any type of writing exercise, not just text transformation tasks. Indeed, asking students to comment on their work and begin the dialogue with the teacher about the text is quite a common practice (see for example Charles, 1990), though perhaps it is rather less common to ask them to be so analytical. My students are usually asked to comment on the audience (and writer's relationship to the audience), purpose, and genre of their text, and to say how these considerations have affected the choices they made in their writing. This can be a difficult thing for students to do, and it takes time to get them doing it well. However, it can have great benefits. For one thing, it helps to make the students much more aware of the fact that writing does involve making decisions. For another, it helps to discuss the students' work in the light of their own intentions and assumptions. If a student says "I have aimed for a very formal style", one can then evaluate and give feedback on whether or not they have achieved this goal. Without knowing what the student was trying to do, the teacher may fail to comment on writing which could well be appropriate, but in fact does not do exactly what the student intended. Level of formality is a particularly difficult area for many students to get to grips with, and student comments are of particular help here.
For occasional use, I believe this type of exercise has few disadvantages, if any, for any group of students wishing to improve their writing skills. How frequently such tasks should be used in [-12-] relation to writing tasks of other types depends of course on many factors. Obviously, as with any type of exercise, they can be overused, in which case certain practical disadvantages may become apparent. Furthermore, there may be objections on more theoretical grounds to writing of this type; again, the more frequently the exercise type is used, the more pertinent such objections may become.
Possible drawbacks of text transformation tasks include the following:
Students are not required to express their own ideas; indeed, it might even be on occasion that they are required to express ideas with which they actively disagree. At worst, this can be frustrating and annoying; or it may simply be rather dull to work with material that is, perhaps, of little interest. There are I think two partial solutions to this problem. One is to try to find tasks which are likely to be intrinsically interesting in their content to the students involved, or which require ideas to be expressed that the students will find reasonably in tune with their own views--though of course one may make miscalculations in this respect. Another is to try to focus students' interest less on the content of the writing. The focus then shifts more to the learning about language and writing that is going on through taking a particular writer- role and learning how to convey a message effectively to an audience.
The writing process involved in carrying out these tasks might be regarded as "incomplete" or "unbalanced" in certain respects. Students do not have to go through precisely the same pre-writing stages that they would if, for example, they were writing an academic essay, or if they were to express their own ideas in a piece of creative writing. The result is that these tasks offer less opportunity to practise invention strategies than certain other types of writing. However, writing courses that focus largely on "self-expression" have been criticised for concentrating too heavily on invention strategies, which are sometimes even seen as being largely relevant only for the work that students do in their writing course (see for example Rose, 1981, and Horowitz, 1986). In fact, invention skills in writing are likely to transfer from L1 for students who are already fairly expert L1 writers. A balanced approach, taking into account the skills and language knowledge that the students being taught most need to acquire would appear to be indicated.
A further objection to text transformation, as mentioned earlier, may be to the artificiality that can characterise some exercises. While extracting content for a written text from other source texts is not by any means unusual, the way this is normally done is not always parallelled in these exercises. For example, one might really use a single newspaper article as the source for an outraged letter [-13-] to the President of the United States, or for a letter to the editor of a newspaper. However, the travel article to be produced in Appendix Task 3 would never in reality be based on the critical feature article used there as a source text. In answer to such a criticism, we must consider that a degree of artificiality underlies many things in the language classroom. Fortunately, this is generally accepted by students as a normal and indeed necessary feature of learning.
One practical problem to text transformation lies in finding suitable tasks, source texts, and other texts for reading to provide written language "input" relevant for writing the final text. This may be difficult and time-consuming to do, particularly in preparing materials for lower level classes. Indeed, it is normally rather easier to set up this kind of task for upper intermediate and advanced level students, where the range of authentic reading materials that they can cope with is wider, as is the range of genres they can be expected to produce themselves. However, I would not for this reason advocate using this type of exercise only with the most advanced students. If possible, it is better to start making students aware of the importance of genre at an earlier level, rather than trying to "add on" such awareness at a later stage.
 In Denmark, where I teach, schools and higher education institutions have a joint copyright agreement with an organisation representing the publishers, and this enables us to use copyright material in our teaching on payment by the government of a block fee. When I mention the use of authentic materials here, it is on the assumption that teachers have arrived at some solution to the problem of use of copyright materials in class.
.I must add at this point that the ideas I express in this article reflect only my personal views on a pattern of writing tasks developed by a group of teachers at the University of Aarhus, Denmark (see Arndt & Ryan (1991) and Larsen (1991)). [-14-]
.Rose suggests that process-writing textbooks intended for L1 college students teach unnecessary topic-finding skills: "I asked faculty, teaching assistants, and graduate student tutors from seventeen disciplines (including English) to give me samples of paper topics and essay examination questions. Every one of the 445 topics and questions I received were specific. Invention, at this level, is unnecessary. It is only in Composition, and, for that matter, rarely there, that students needed to "find a topic." The invention or prewriting techniques that students really do need have much more to do with weighing and focusing large bodies of information already known. But this was not treated in any of the texts" (1981, p. 72).
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After teaching adults in Sweden and teenagers in Cyprus for a total of 16 years, Tim Caudery moved in 1988 to his current post at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. He teaches courses on various aspects of language and on second language acquisition. He is currently particularly interested in the use of computers in language teaching, for example in the use of computer networks in the teaching of writing skills.
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