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Functions and genres of Chinese ESL children's English writing in school and at home Sze, Sin Heng Celine 2008

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FUNCTIONS AND GENRES OF CHINESE ESL CHILDREN’S ENGLISH WRITING IN SCHOOL AND AT HOME by Sin Heng Celine Sze B.A., The University of London, 1989 M.Ed., The Hong Kong University, 1992 M.A., The University of Nottingham, 1998  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in The Faculty of Graduate Studies (Language Education) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) August 2008 Sin Heng Celine Sze 2008  ABSTRACT Drawing on a sociocultural perspective of genre as a social action situated in a particular context, this study examines the functions and genres of four second-grade ESL (English as a Second Language) children’s writing at home and at school.  The two boys  and two girls were born and raised in Canada, speaking English at school and with their siblings, and Cantonese at home with their parents who were immigrants from Hong Kong or China.  A total of 67 pieces of school writing and 54 pieces of home writing  were collected over a five-week period.  Findings show that home writing exhibits a  wider range of functions and genres than school writing.  In the home context, the  participating children wrote for more personal purposes, to entertain themselves, or to engage in social interactions with a real audience.  In contrast, school writing narrowed  the children’s choice of functions because of the teaching context, teacher expectations, and instructional objectives.  Similarly, there was a greater variety in home genres,  including greeting cards, diaries, notes, poems, and jokes in comparison to school genres that were confined to stories, journals, and list items.  There was a strong relationship  between the enactment of specific functions and particular genres while personal and social functions were more prevalent in their home-based than in their school-based writing.  Qualitative analysis of the children’s writing shows that they constructed  meaning with written language in individual ways in their enactment of functions and choice of genres and the use of different modes to represent meaning. The study suggests that teachers should be aware of the value of the writing opportunities and contexts children have at home and, therefore, incorporate such home experiences into classroom teaching.  It also has implications for parents to conceive  writing as a sociocultural as well as language practice, and to recognize the role of the home environment in their contributions to their children’s constructing meaning with written language.  They should be aware of the need to build on the children’s interests  and needs while encouraging them to write, and to make connections with school in working towards their writing development.  ii  TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ……………………………………………………………………………….…..ii Table of Contents………………………………………………………………………....iii List of Tables………………………………………………………………………….....vii List of Figures…………………………………………………………………………...viii List of Transcripts………………………………………………………………………...ix Acknowledgements……………………………………………….………………….…...x Dedication…………………………………………………………………………….…..xi 1  Introduction ..................................................................................................................1 1.1 Introduction to the study..................................................................................1 1.1.1 An overview................................................................................................1 1.1.2 Purpose and rationale of the study............................................................2 1.2 Research questions ........................................................................................5 1.3 Theoretical framework...................................................................................6 1.3.1 Literacy as a social, situated, and cultural practice....................................6 1.3.2 Writing as a literacy activity..........................................................9 1.3.3 Writing purposes and functions...............................................................10 1.3.4 Genre theories..........................................................................................12 1.3.5 The writer’s agenda..................................................................................15 1.4 Theoretical concepts in second language writing.........................................17 1.4.1 The role of writing in early second language acquisition........................17 1.4.2 Genre development of second language learners..................................19 1.4.3 Multimodality in early second language writing..................................20 1.4.4 Connecting home and school literacies of second language children...22 1.5 Significance of the study...............................................................................24  2 Review of Literature....................................................................................................27 2.1 Language functions.......................................................................................27 2.2 Writing functions..........................................................................................28 2.2.1 Functions of writing in school..................................................................30 2.2.2 Functions of writing at home....................................................................33 2.2.3 Functions of writing at home for second language children....................34 2.3 Written genres...............................................................................................35 2.3.1 Classification of written genres................................................................35 2.3.2 Development of written genres................................................................37 2.3.3 Development of written genres for second language children.................40 2.3.4 Written genres in school and at home......................................................41 2.3.5 Written genres in school and at home for second language children.....43  iii  2.4  Linking school and home writing experiences of second language children.........................................................................................................45 2.4.1 Developing writing in the home context..................................................47 2.4.2 Popular culture as linguistic resources.....................................................49 2.5 Multimodality...............................................................................................51 3  Research Design, Methods, and Context of the Study.................................................54 3.1 Rationale for research design........................................................................54 3.1.1 Definition of the case study.....................................................................54 3.1.2 Case study in second language acquisition research................................56 3.1.3 The issue of quantification in case study research...................................58 3.2 Participants....................................................................................................59 3.3 School context...............................................................................................61 3.4 Home and community contexts....................................................................62 3.5 Data collection..............................................................................................66 3.5.1 Writing samples........................................................................................67 3.5.2 Interviews.................................................................................................68 3.5.3 Observations.............................................................................................69 3.6 Data analysis.................................................................................................70 3.6.1 Interviews and observations.....................................................................70 3.6.2 Writing samples........................................................................................71 Functional analysis.........................................................................71 Genre analysis................................................................................75 3.6.3 Summary of data analyses procedures.....................................................77  4  Results and Discussion (1): Functions of Writing in School and at Home.................79 4.1 Overview: Functions in the children’s school writing and home writing.....80 4.2 Frequencies of functions in school writing and home writing......................80 4.3 Distribution of specific functions across school writing and home writing...........................................................................................................82 4.3.1 Functions found in both school writing and home writing......................82 4.3.2 Functions unique to school writing..........................................................85 4.3.3 Functions unique to home writing............................................................86 4.3.4 Discussion of findings of the distribution of specific functions...............88 4.4 Categories of functions.................................................................................90 4.4.1 Personal functions....................................................................................91 4.4.2 Social functions........................................................................................93 4.4.3 Recreational functions............................................................................97 4.4.4 Learning function...................................................................................100 4.4.5 Discussion of findings of categories of functions..................................103 4.5 Summary of findings ..................................................................................107  5  Results and Discussion (2): Written Genres in School and at Home .......................109 5.1 Overview: Genres in the children’s school writing and home writing.......109 5.2 Frequency and distribution of genres in school writing..............................112 5.2.1 Stories.....................................................................................................112  iv  5.2.2 5.2.3 5.2.4  Journals...................................................................................................117 Lists........................................................................................................119 Summary of findings in school writing..................................................120 5.3 Frequency and distribution of genres in home writing...............................122 5.3.1 Stories.....................................................................................................124 5.3.2 Journals...................................................................................................126 5.3.3 Descriptions of my favourite things.......................................................127 5.3.4 Non-fiction writing.................................................................................128 5.3.5 Drawings................................................................................................129 5.3.6 Greeting cards.........................................................................................131 5.3.7 Notes.......................................................................................................133 5.3.8 Diaries....................................................................................................134 5.3.9 Poems.....................................................................................................135 5.3.10 Jokes.......................................................................................................136 5.3.11 Summary of findings in home writing...................................................137 5.4 Discussion of findings.................................................................................138 5.4.1 Differences in the variety of genres between the school and the home settings....................................................................................................138 5.4.2. Genres and social contexts.....................................................................140 5.4.3 Children’s genre knowledge...................................................................142 5.4.4 Conclusions............................................................................................144 6  Results and Discussion (3): Functions of Genres in School and at Home.............146 6.1 Functions of genres in school writing and home writing............................146 6.1.1 Frequency of functions of individual genres in school writing..............146 6.1.2 Frequency of functions of individual genres in home writing...............148 6.1.3 Differences in the frequency of functions of individual genres between school and home writing .......................................................................150 6.1.4 Categories of functions of genres in school writing and home writing ...................................................................................................150 6.1.5 Summary of findings..............................................................................153 6.1.6 Discussion of findings............................................................................154 Relationships between functions and genres...............................154 Relationships between the frequency of functions and writing ability...........................................................................................157 The writer’s agenda in school and at home.................................159 6.2 Constructing meaning with functions and genres in school and at home...161 6.2.1 Elaine the inventor: Writing for fun.......................................................161 6.2.2 Katie the weaver: Writing with a voice..................................................168 6.2.3 William the producer of meaning: Integrating words with visuals........173 6.2.4 John the image maker: Creating meaning with imagination..................179 6.2.5 An end note............................................................................................185  7  Conclusions, Implications, and Further Work.......................................................186 7.1 Findings of the study................................................................................186 7.2 Conclusions drawn from the findings.........................................191  v  7.2.1 7.2.2  The classroom as a learning context................................191 The home as a context for development................................................193 7.3 Theoretical implications..............................................................................196 7.3.1 Writing functions....................................................................................196 7.3.2 Written genres........................................................................................197 7.3.3 Writing as a sociocultural practice.........................................................198 7.4 Teaching implications.................................................................................199 7.4.1 School writing as a sociocultural and situated practice..........................199 7.4.2 Children’s writer’s agenda and writing skills................................201 7.4.3 Connecting school with home................................................................203 7.5 Implications for parents..............................................................................205 7.5.1 Writing as a sociocultural practice versus language practice..................205 7.5.2 Connecting home with school..................................................................208 7.6 Limitations of the study..............................................................................209 7.7 Further research..............................................................................210 Bibliography....................................................................................................................212 Appendix A......................................................................................................................230 Appendix B......................................................................................................................233 Appendix C......................................................................................................................235  vi  LIST OF TABLES Table 1  Summary chart of research questions, data collection and data analysis........78  Table 2  Functions of the children’s writing produced in school and at home..............80  Table 3  Mean of functions in school writing and home writing...................................81  Table 4  Distribution of specific functions in different categories in school writing and home writing.............................................................................................92  Table 5  Frequency and percentages of genres in school writing................................110  Table 6  Frequency and percentages of genres in home writing..................................111  Table 7  Distribution of genres across chronologies and descriptions in school writing............................................................................................................113  Table 8  Distribution of genres across chronologies, descriptions, interactions, and word plays in home writing.....................................................................123  Table 9  Frequency of functions of individual genres in school writing.....................147  Table 10 Frequency of functions of individual genres in home writing.......................149 Table 11 Percentages of categories of functions of genres in school writing and home writing............................................................................................................152  vii  LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1  Distribution of specific functions between school writing and home writing..............................................................................................................83  Figure 2  John’s description of his favourite month........................................................95  Figure 3  William’s plant journal....................................................................................96  Figure 4  Elaine’s poem about parts of the body...........................................................99  Figure 5  Katie’s list of wonderful things about her community..................................101  Figure 6  John’s fantasy story about a magic pebble....................................................114  Figure 7  Katie’s fictional story about a caterpillar.......................................................116  Figure 8  William’s experiential journal about his weekend.........................................117  Figure 9  William’s list of descriptions of the most amazing bug................................120  Figure 10 Elaine’s descriptive story of what she saw outside the window one morning...................................................................................................126 Figure 11 Elaine’s non-fiction writing about dinosaurs.................................................129 Figure 12 Katie’s drawing (picture talk) of cartoon characters......................................131 Figure 13 John’s greeting card to cookies......................................................................132 Figure 14 John’s diary and wish-list..............................................................................135 Figure 15 Elaine’s jokes (riddles) about a frog and math books....................................137 Figure 16 Elaine’s poem about Halloween....................................................................163 Figure 17 Elaine’s school journal about her weekend...................................................165 Figure 18 Elaine’s home journal about Chinese school.................................................166 Figure 19 Katie’s informational journal about her favourite insect...............................169 Figure 20 Katie’s note to her parents.............................................................................170 Figure 21 William’s Mother’s Day card........................................................................178 Figure 22 John’s journal about his anticipations............................................................183  viii  LIST OF TRANSCRIPTS Transcript 1  Katie’s experiential story about social problems in the community........102  Transcript 2  Elaine’s experiential story about the homeless........................................116  Transcript 3  William’s descriptive journal about a visit to the Space Centre..............118  Transcript 4  John’s fantasy story about a super hero...................................................125  Transcript 5  John’s experiential journal about a so-so day..........................................127  Transcript 6  Elaine’s notes about her daily experiences..............................................134  Transcript 7  Katie’s fantasy poem about snow flakes..................................................136  Transcript 8  William’s fantasy story about a boy being shrunk to the size of an ant..174  Transcript 9  John’s imaginary story about an ideal place to live and play..................181  ix  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I offer my sincere gratitude to the faculty, staff, and my fellow students in the Department of Literacy and Language Education at UBC who have inspired me to conduct my work in the field of language education. I owe particular thanks to Dr. Marilyn Chapman for her enduring support, inspiration, and guidance in the course of my work.  Her kindness in sharing her research site with  me is very much appreciated. I would also like to thank Dr. Joe Belanger whose penetrating questions have taught me to question and think more deeply; I am very grateful for his good counsel and assistance throughout my years of study at UBC. A special thank you is extended to Dr. Ling Shi for her enthusiastic support, encouragement, and assistance in my research work, and her being a role model for me in my academic inquiries.  x  DEDICATION To my parents who have supported me throughout my years of education, and who have instilled in me a life-long love and respect for learning, and perseverance to achieve my goals;  To my husband for his support in my academic and professional advancement, his patience, love, and understanding.  xi  Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION This dissertation reports a case study on the writing functions and written genres of school-based and home-based writing of a group of Grade 2 second language children born of immigrant families in a large urban city in Western Canada.  The first chapter is  an introduction to the study which includes the theoretical framework on which the research work is based, the purpose, and the rationale of the study.  This is followed by  Chapter 2 that reviews literature on related empirical research findings in the field. Chapter 3 is on methodology, the research design and the context of the study.  The  findings and related discussion are presented in the next three chapters in response to the three research questions guiding the investigation.  Chapter 7, the final chapter, presents  a summary of the findings and their theoretical implications as well as implications for teachers and parents. This introductory chapter first presents an overview of the background of the study, followed by a discussion of its purpose and the rationale justifying the investigation on the particular topic. presented.  The research questions guiding the study are next  Then the theoretical framework and theoretical concepts in relation to second  language acquisition and writing in which the research was grounded are discussed. The chapter ends with the significance of the study about its possible theoretical and practical contributions to elementary second language writing education. 1.1 Introduction to the study 1.1.1 An Overview Drawing on a sociocultural perspective of genre as a social action situated in a particular context, this study examines the functions and genres of four second-grade ESL (English as a Second Language) children’s writing at home and at school.  The four  focal children attended an urban elementary school in a major city in Western Canada. The two boys and two girls were born and raised in Canada, speaking English in school and at home with their siblings, and Cantonese with their parents and grandparents at home.  1  Most studies of young children’s written genres have focused on children whose first language was English (e.g., Chapman, 1994, 1995; Donovan, 2001; Newkirk, 1987; Tower, 2002).  As North America becomes more linguistically and culturally diverse,  there has been an increasing interest in exploring the writing of young children who speak English as a second language.  Although extensive research has examined the  development of genres among adult or college level ESL students in academic settings (e.g., Hyland, 2003), little research has investigated the written discourse of ESL children and the social contexts of their writing, particularly writing activity that they initiate. is this gap in the literature that gave rise to the present study.  It  It aimed at gaining a  deeper understanding of literacy development among children whose lives revolve around more than one language and more than one culture.  While monocultural and  monolingual children are not faced with choices as to which language (and its accompanying system of writing) and which cultural framework to draw from while learning how to write, children with a background like those discussed in this study acquire literacy under much more complex circumstances as they move between the languages and cultures which encompass their lives.  In order to better understand the  writing of these children who may speak one language in school and another at home, it is essential to examine the existing and the potential relationships between school-based and home-based literacy activities.  This is what the study reported here attempted to do  by exploring their writing functions and use of genres in home and school-based writing contexts. To limit the scope of the study, the investigation was confined to the children’s writing in English only. 1.1.2 Purpose and Rationale of the Study This study examined the relationships between children’s functions and genres for writing at home and at school.  It consisted of case studies of four Grade 2 children who  were born of immigrant parents and were second language learners of English. Growing up in the mainstream community, these children attended schools in which English was the only language of instruction.  The purpose of the study was to describe  and compare these children’s writing in academic and family/community contexts to explore their function and genre repertoires.  It is hoped that the research findings could  offer some insights for educators to reflect on the writing instructional pedagogy adopted  2  for primary level children from diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds.  Moreover, in  exploring the children’s world of meaning making using written language beyond the classroom, a complex structure of their communicative practices has emerged.  This  could throw light on how these young second language writers developed their English writing abilities as they traverse across different social contexts and multiple discourses. Parents of immigrant families could better understand the value of the wonderful opportunities available in the home and community to facilitate their children’s writing development in English, a major component of literacy abilities they perceived essential for academic, social and economic development in the new country. Literacy is conceived as “reasoning within multiple discourses” (Michaels & O’Connor, 1990, p. 1). It involves integrating different ways of thinking, talking, interacting, valuing, and reading and writing available to an individual to construct meaning in a particular social setting (McCarthey, 1997).  This conception implies that  as children grow up, they learn culturally appropriate ways of using language to express meaning as they come into contact with text at home in their early childhood (Gee, 1990). The focus on multiple discourses highlights the importance of the various writing situations, processes and products in the cultural settings in the children’s lives. Looking at the children’s school and home writing, the study serves to illustrate how individual children “interpret and transform the available cultural meanings” (Kenner, 2003, p. 88).  Cazden (1988, 2001) maintains that familiarity with students’ personal  and social worlds could reduce the psychological distance between the home and the school.  Studying the children’s home-based texts sheds light on their home literacy  events.  Such events provide a foundation for helping the children develop more socially  and culturally appropriate literacy skills.  Understanding the language produced in their  home and community could offer useful information that “may illuminate strengths in the children’s home and school environment…that lead to more success in literacy acquisition” (Hammer, Miccio, & Wagstaff, 2003, p. 32).  It would benefit educators as  well as parents to understand the variety of knowledge, skills and attitudes manipulated by the children so as to gain access into and build on their home culture (Garcia, 2000; Gonzalez, Moll, Tenery, Rivera, Rendon & Gonzales, 1995). Such understanding helps educators to better develop social networks to connect home and school in order to  3  facilitate academic and literacy development, and to make effective use of socially constituted “funds of knowledge” (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 1992). All writing is done for a purpose, whether explicit or implicit, conscious or subconscious.  This applies to children and adults alike and spans across all cultural,  linguistic and ethnic boundaries.  A functional perspective on writing development for  young children may not be embodied in all their learning environments.  Although there  is a general understanding that children write for a purpose, it has been observed that school writing is not always authentic and hence does not prepare children for writing in the real world for a real purpose (Atwell,1998; Edelsky & Smith,1984).  Writing is often  done in the school for instructional purposes rather than for a personal communicative or social purpose.  On the other hand, home writing is a rich source for understanding  second language children’s local literacies, their sociocultural ways of representing their culture and community, and the effect of social influences, such as cultural beliefs and rhetorical styles, on their literacy development in school (McCarthey & Garcia, 2005). Some writing researchers have looked at how bilingual children in low socioeconomic status families developed their writing competence in the home context in relation to writing functions.  For example, Delgado-Gaitan (1990) researched the ways in which  Hispanic children learned to write, and Teale (1986) investigated the literacy development of Anglo, African and Mexican American children.  But little research has  been done in Canada with children in Chinese immigrant families. For writing to be effective and creative, some experience with a genre is needed (Cope & Kalantzis, 1993).  Genre scholars have traditionally worked with children from  native-English speaking backgrounds.  With regard to learners of English as a second  language, much of the work examining students’ genre development has been conducted at college or university level, looking at academic and workplace genres in particular disciplines (e.g., Hyland, 2003; Ramanathan & Kaplan, 2000; Swales,1990). Comparatively little attention has been paid to genre learning among children from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Recent research studies have shown that literacy instruction can draw on children’s out of school literacy practices, for example, Alverman, Xu, and Carpenter (2003), and Kenner (2000).  Classroom writing instruction and practice can build on  4  students’ cultural and linguistic resources to connect in and out-of-school lives.  The  restricted repertoire of functions and genres with which students write at school is distinctly different from that of home-based writing that they produce for a wide range of purposes (Bissex, 1980).  Real discourse for personal, cultural and social development  can hardly be represented within the classroom.  More research work is needed in this  area, with detailed analysis of the purposes and types of writing engaged by children, to help connect the official and unofficial worlds (Dyson, 1989) of young English language learners to develop their literacy skills. 1.2 Research questions Specific research questions guiding the study were: 1.  What are the differences between the functions of the focal children’s English writing at school and in their home? The children may have different purposes for writing in the two settings, the reasons for communication being located in the context of the situation. Writing functions are direct reflections of the intent for writing.  A starting point  to examine the differences would be identifying the writing functions enacted in the school and the home-based written texts, to be followed by a comparison of their frequency, nature and variety between the two settings.  The research  question can thus be refined into a number of sub-questions as follows: a. What writing functions are identified in the written texts of the school setting and the home setting? b. What functions are common to both settings, and what are specific to each? c. How are the individual writing functions distributed between different categories for personal, social, recreational, and learning purposes within each setting, and how does such distribution compare between the two settings? 2.  What are the differences in the range of genres in the children’s school and home writing in English? Written genres will be different between the school and the home setting. The nature and variability of the written genres will be different across settings as well as their distribution within a particular setting.  The research question can  be defined in more specific terms as follows:  5  a. What written genres are identified in the written texts of the school setting and the home setting? b. How do the two sets of genres compare with each other in range and nature? c. How are the genres distributed within each setting and how do the two settings compare in terms of variability? 3.  How do the children construct meaning with the use of written language writing in school and at home? The analysis of how children construct meaning will focus on the writing functions and how they are related to genres adopted for realizing the writing purposes.  The research question can be further defined with the following  sub-questions: a. What is the distribution of functions among specific genres within a particular setting and how do the distributions in the two settings compare with each other? b. What different kinds of functions do the children enact in specific types of genres? c. What are the unique ways in which the individual focal children construct meaning with their choice of functions and genres in their school and their home writing? 1.3 Theoretical framework There are numerous theoretical perspectives on the learning and use of writing, for example, developmental, and cognitive.  This study is framed within five interrelated  perspectives: systemic functional linguistics (Halliday, 1978); the dialogic view of language and written genres (Bakhtin, 1986); the sociocultural perspective of writing (Vygotsky, 1978); multimodality in representation of meaning (Kress, 2000); and the writer’s agenda (Meyer, 1992). 1.3.1 Literacy as a Social, Situated, and Cultural Practice This research study draws on a theory of literacy as a set of social practices mediated by texts (Barton & Hamilton, 2000; Street, 1993, 1995).  The starting point of  this approach is the notion of literacy practices which offers a powerful way to study the link between the acts of reading and writing and the social structures in which they are  6  found and which contribute to their construction.  Literacy practices are conceptualized  as “the general cultural ways of utilizing written language which people draw upon in their lives …what people do with literacy” (Barton & Hamilton, 2000, p. 7). They incorporate the values, attitudes, feelings and social relationships between individuals, including their awareness of literacy, their constructions and discourses of literacy, and how they make sense of literacy (Street, 1993). Barton and Hamilton maintain that literacy practices are social processes that connect people to one another, embedded in shared cognition and social identities; they are practices that exist in the relations between people within communities rather than a set of procedures adopted by individuals. Literacy practices are realized through literacy events that rise from practices which help shape them.  This highlights the importance of the situated nature of literacy:  it always exists in a particular context.  A basic premise underlying this study is that  literacy is situated in particular context.  The concept of situated literacy takes into  account the context and the importance of literacy practices and events.  All literacies  are situated, as the use of written language is always located in particular times and places.  Literacy activities are also reflective and part of broader social practices; hence  literacy is best understood as “a set of social processes…observable in events which are mediated by written texts” (Barton & Hamilton, 2000, p. 9).  This view is supported by  other researchers, for example, Taylor and Blunt (2001, cited by Paratore, Krol-Sinclair, Chacon, & Banados, 2005) who stress that understanding literacy needs to focus on its situatedness, and that the unit of analysis in literacy research should change from the “individual learner to the structures and dynamics of the sociocultural setting in which the learning occurs” (p. 82).  Given its social and situated nature, literacy can assume  different forms in different times and places for different groups of people.  There are  different literacies associated with different facets or domains of an individual or group’s daily life, such as home, community, school, and workplace.  The concept of multiple  literacies (Street, 1995) stresses the importance of the social context in which literacy occurs; it is carried out in particular cultural settings for particular purposes, and is a cultural practice rather than a purely cognitive operation of a set of skills. The study also draws on a sociocultural view of literacy.  The most fundamental  concept of sociocultural theory is that the human mind is mediated through the use of  7  symbolic tools or signs (Vygotsky, 1978).  According to Vygotsky, human beings use  symbolic artifacts, such as words and language to establish a mediated or indirect relationship between themselves and the world.  In this view, writing is particularly  important for mediating thoughts; its effects on thinking vary with the nature of the symbol systems and uses of writing in particular cultures and writing contexts.  The  human mind is a function system integrating symbolic artifacts into thinking; how people think and interact is influenced significantly by language, writing and other sign systems. Human actions are shaped by cultural, institutional and historical settings, and are mediated by symbolic tools as individuals participate in societal contexts; it follows that thinking and speaking or writing, as mediated and publicly derived use of representation, complete inner thoughts dialectically (Donato, 2000).  Vygotsky makes a distinction  between the conventional meaning of a word and its contextualized meaning that is derived from the particular way a human being deploys words to mediate a mental activity (Lantolf, 2000). This perspective leads literacy researchers to look at children’s reading and writing practices within the local and the larger contexts in which they live and develop their literacy, which calls for the need to consider children’s “communities of practice” (Lave & Wenger, 1991) and “imagined communities” (Norton, 2000).  Communities of  practice are those communities to which individuals belong while imagined communities are those that they hope to belong to.  Children learn the tools of language and literacy  in specific contexts within these communities where the construction of literacy practices is affected by race, culture, social class, and language (Taylor & Dorsey-Gaines, 1988). Understanding children’s positions in these communities helps to explain why and how they engage in particular language and literacy practices or do not engage in them at all; it is also important to note that in developing their sense of community, they engage not only in actual community practices but also use imagination to create new images of the world for themselves (Wenger, 1998). It follows that acquiring literacy is not just the cognitive learning of knowledge and skills for reading and writing, but rather, a complex process of changing language learners’ patterns of participation in the communities they belong to or want to belong to (Lave & Wenger, 1991).  The ways in which language  learners construct their language and literacy practices are affected by the ways in which  8  they understand themselves, their cultural and social background and environment, and their aspirations for the future (Norton & Toohey, 2003).  From this viewpoint, the  writing that language learners produce in the various communities in which they live, learn, and share their practices is an important source by which to access how they acquire literacy and construct themselves as writers. 1.3.2 Writing as a Literacy Activity The task of writing is challenging for adults and children alike because of the multidimensional processing of information, as informed by cognitive psychology (Riley & Reedy, 2005).  On an operational level, a writer has to consider several aspects, which  include thinking about what to write, producing a material script, coping with the technicalities of conventional symbols and the spelling system, and organizing the discourse of the text, all of which make multiple and simultaneous cognitive demands on the writer (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1985).  Hayes and Flower (1980) contend that in  producing an organized written text, the cognitive load on a writer, application of conceptual understandings, and the exercise of various kinds of abilities and skills can be likened to those needed by an air traffic controller. Vygotsky (1978) argues that children should be taught written language and not just the writing of letters.  The ways in which children use language to make sense of  the world suggest that acquiring literacy goes far beyond mastering the discrete skills of reading and writing (Roger, 1990). The process of making meaning with written language involves many issues: the integral use of graphophonic, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic systems to signal content and attitude (Goodman, Watson, & Burke, 1987, cited in Meyer, 1992). The development of literacy involves a growing awareness that language is used in different ways for different purposes, and that the form of a text is determined by its social purpose and cultural context.  Rosenblatt (1978) defines writing  as the production of sets of signs to be interpreted as linguistic symbols for making meaning to fit the writer’s purpose.  This definition conceptualizes writing as signifier  of meaning mediated through language to be interpreted.  Based on this definition,  Meyer (1992) argues that relationships are always implied in the use and development of written language.  Interpretation of signs is always situated in a particular context and  involves individuals who interpret them in light of their relationships with the self, with  9  other people or institutions.  He further contends that in school and out-of-school  settings, relationships with others and self involve power relations or authoritarian roles, such as those between teachers or parents and children.  Relationships are influenced by  permission, which in turn affects the individual’s movement, initiation of the writing activity, purpose for writing, and choice of topic of writing and materials.  Individuals  may write according to the instructions of a person or institution of power or out of their initiatives, with reference to the social and cultural contexts. According to Halliday (1978), every act of writing has an ideational meaning for conveying a message, and also an interpersonal meaning that defines the social relationships between the writer and reader.  Children take up reading and writing in  ways that they find relevant to them personally and socially.  They use them as vehicles  to explore relationships within the exigencies of their family and community, constructing their individual repertoire of functions that reflect “the interests, needs, and issues most central to their individual sensibilities and life histories” (McGinley & Kamberelis, 1993, p. 3).  A fundamental concept of literacy development is that as  children write, they use writing to understand, negotiate and transform their human relationships and experiences, and to make sense of their worlds.  The way written  language is used has important implications for conceptualizing the meaning of being literate, literacy development, and pedagogy. 1.3.3 Writing Purposes and Functions The notion of function can be examined from a number of perspectives.  While  researchers, such as Heath (1983) and Taylor and Dorsey-Gaines (1988) have offered different classifications of functions and uses of literacy, it is often difficult to assign specific functions to a particular text in practice (Clark & Ivanič, 1997).  Functions are  inconsistent and often overlap a great deal, and that multiple functions may be served by the same single act of writing (Barton & Hamilton, 2000; Chapman, 1999).  These  researchers also contend that it is not practicable to associate a specific set of functions with a particular genre.  The function and purpose of a text is derived from and  interpreted within the social context in which it was written, and hence:  10  a particular type of text, such as diary or letter, cannot be used as basis for assigning functions, as reading and writing any vernacular text can serve many functions; people appropriate texts for their own ends…a text also does not have a set of functions independent of the social meanings with which it is imbued. (Barton & Hamilton, 2000, p. 12)  A theoretical grounding for studying functions and purposes of writing in the present study was adapted from a framework of writing functions and purposes developed by Clark and Ivanič (1997).  These authors distinguish between function and  purpose though both pertain to the reasons for writing.  Function refers to specific ways  that writing as a semiotic system is designed to achieve by virtue of its fundamental characteristics and technical properties.  Purpose in relation to writing is the  fundamental driving force that lies behind the activity, and the intentions or goals that exist, sometimes subconsciously, in people’s minds.  According to these researchers, the  social functions that writing serves and is well suited for are record-keeping, thinking, communicating with others, producing evidence of understanding, and dissemination of ideas.  In the present study, writing functions are interpreted as the specific ways of  using written language to mediate the writer’s intentions, for example, expressing opinions and anticipating future events, in order to achieve a communicative purpose, as described by Clark and Ivanič (1997). These two researchers divide writing purposes into two types: macro purposes, in which writing serves the society at large, and micro-purposes suited to daily demands and serving different kinds of social actions that drive people to write in particular situations. The notion of macro purposes is grounded in the theory that writing is ultimately used for maintaining or promoting certain interests of particular discourses, serving regulatory and reproductive functions to preserve the interests of dominant and powerful social groups or cultures.  These functions play a role in maintaining hegemony of authoritative  discourses.  The regulatory function concerns regulating orderly behaviour to maintain  dominant values, such as the use of laws written down to be applied by the courts and judges, while the reproductive function maintains and perpetuates dominant values, beliefs, and power relations through particular writing practices, and writing in particular discourses and genres.  11  The reproductive function has particular implications for children from minority or ethnic groups in which writing habits and uses of writing may differ from those in the mainstream culture.  In the context of writing instruction in school, children, regardless  of their cultural and ethnic background, are taught to write using discourse conventions and practices that they are expected to follow as they go through the education system. The reproductive function underlying writing instruction maintains the values of the society supporting the school system, and reinforces its ideological dominance and existing power relations.  Children from ethnic minority groups who have not grown up  with the mainstream cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1991) may not identify with the kinds of writing offered in school since their home values, meaning and writing practices may differ.  Furthermore, they may not gain as much pleasure and success from school-based  writing (McCarthey, 1997).  Clark and Ivanič (1997) argue that there may be an  uncomfortable tension for learners whose sociocultural context is at odds with the dominant one.  On one hand, they have to engage in the dominant cultural writing  practices to promote their interests, and academic and economic advancement in the mainstream community.  On the other hand, they may be denying their allegiances to  their own culture to conform to the requirements of the teacher and the expectations of their parents to succeed in school.  As a result, they may turn to use writing as an act of  social resistance to oppose the rules imposed by authorities.  Writing-as-resistance is  widespread among minority groups engaged in vernacular uses of literacy, university students, and campaign groups (Barton, Bloome, Sheridan, & Street, 1993). 1.3.4 Genre Theories Genres have traditionally been perceived as regularized forms of writing that can be divided into categories and subcategories, and taught to students (Freedman & Medway, 1994).  For example, texts can be divided into narrative and non-narrative  writing, and narrative is further divided into recounts, accounts, and stories.  To help  empower non-mainstream students for success in schools, the Sydney School of genre scholars have recommended a structural approach to genre learning through imitation of models and learning of textual features (Christie, 1993; Martin, 1993).  Their structural  approach focuses on form and aims at expansion of students’ genre repertoires fostered through explicit instruction.  In contrast, recent views of the New Rhetoric School  12  suggest that genre instruction should focus on thinking and communicating instead of textual features: the formal features of a genre are seen not as ends in themselves but in relation to “the writer’s social motive in responding to a recurrent social situation of a certain type” (Freedman & Medway, 1994, p. 3). The understanding of genres as social actions is related to the Bakhtinian (1986) view that all language is dialogic: our use and understanding of words are developed through interactions with others in our communities and cultures.  According to Bakhtin,  language users observe how others use different genres to perform various social activities.  As such social situations recur, writers make similar choices about the use of  textual patterns, following generally accepted discourse forms for interacting with others. As children develop literacy, be it in their native or second language, they learn through engaging in meaningful activities and interactions with literate others.  Bakhtin contends  that children learn genres through recontextualizing or processing the words of others into their own speech or writing through a kind of social dialogue.  Youngsters develop  knowledge about the functions and forms of written language specific to particular situations through internalization of the processes, practices, and genres as they experience them in their sociocultural contexts (Bakhtin, 1986; Vygotsky, 1978). Rather than templates that writers slot their ideas into, Bakhtin regards genres as flexible and open-ended forms that grow out of the needs of interactive activities in particular contexts, in the different spheres of human activity.  Genres, as Swales (1990) defines  them, are ways of communicating for certain communicative purposes which lead to specific rhetorical and linguistic choices. Duke and Purcell-Gates (2003) believe that genres provide a powerful way to think about the learning of literacy.  Over the past two decades, research interest in  children’s genre knowledge acquisition arises from multidisciplinary work in genre studies, moving from a study of formal text types to defining and organizing the kinds of possible social actions that texts can realize (Smith & Hiles, 2006). production is a convenient site for investigating genre development.  Children’s text As children  develop their linguistic ability, they become increasingly aware of the way that language is used in different ways for different purposes and social situations (Riley & Reedy, 2005).  Based on a functional linguistic theory of discourse (Halliday, 1975, 1978),  13  genre theory explains how the form of a text is influenced by its social function and cultural context for both written and spoken language (Kress, 1985; Martin et al., 1987). However, Donaldson (1993) points to the fact that the understanding of such relationships in the use of language is not readily available to young children in their early years of literacy instruction.  Teachers have to be aware of the role that written language plays in  helping children organize and structure their ideas and enhance their thinking and self expression in relation to social motives, and also fostering their students’ development of metacognitive awareness of these processes. Based on the perception that genres are context-embedded, localized, and tied to specific time and space, Bakhtin (1986) makes a distinction between primary and secondary genres.  The former are used in daily communicative activities and can be  learned without formal instruction.  The latter are highly developed and specialized  academic or sociopolitical activities that are more distant from daily contexts.  Similarly,  Gee (1990) makes a distinction between primary Discourses that are learned initially at home with family, and secondary Discourses that are learned through apprenticeship in social groups and institutions.  Learning primary genres or discourses is an essential  developmental task for young learners acquiring literacy.  As they begin formal  schooling, children then acquire knowledge of secondary genres through school-based writing.  Since current understandings of literacy development emphasize building on  children’s home literacy experiences, the validity of school literacies that are separate from students’ personal experiences with real world literacies is questionable. The sociocultural view of literacy suggests a shift within genre studies from a focus on the cognitive learning of textual structures to diverse personal and social factors, and the intention of literacy events and practices.  Drawing on the work of Bakhtin  (1986), Chapman (1999) reconceptualizes genres as situated, social, and active, “cultural resources on which writers draw in the process of writing for particular purposes and in specific situations” (p. 469).  She argues that genres are social actions that writers make  in response to the different social contexts in particular discourse communities; writers are engaged in a creative process in which they can freely choose what they write and how they write to express their unique personalities, voices, and creativities.  The  14  sociocultural theoretical perspectives discussed here underlie the present investigation of a group of ESL children’s writing functions and genres at home and school. 1.3.5 The Writer’s Agenda Halliday (1978) observed that when children put pen to paper, they wanted to make meaning and did it for a purpose. meaning using written language.  Many issues were involved in the making of  But according to Halliday, how language makes  meaning within these systems at a given time is related to the ideational and the interpersonal meaning to be expressed as determined by the social context  This in turn  contains three variables – the field, the tenor and the mode of the writing activity. Halliday (1978) describes how a social context can be represented in terms of these three determinants: …a social context (or ‘situation’ in terms of situation theory) is a temporary construct or instantiation of meanings from the social system.  A social context is a semiotic  structure which we may interpret in terms of three variables: a ‘field’ of social process (what is going on), a ‘tenor’ of social relationships (who is taking part) and a ‘mode’ of symbolic interaction (how the meanings are exchanged). (p. 188)  Though these concepts originally pertained to oral language use, they can also be applied to written language (Meyer, 1992).  The field of a writing act refers to the  ongoing activity or social process and the particular purposes served by the use of language in the context of the activity.  When applied to writing, the field is not just the  subject matter in hand but also the whole activity of the writer and the social situation in which the text is embedded.  This relates to the ideas that the writer chooses to represent  in writing as responses to the social or institutional setting that initiates the writing act. He/she may choose to write to aid memory, provide information, or demonstrate knowledge of specific content.  The tenor is the writer’s social relationship with others  in the setting as determined by his/her status and the role among the participants.  The  mode is the channel in which the meanings are presented or exchanged, or in essence, the part that language plays in the situation to mediate meaning.  It is the writer’s  understanding and perception of these issues that provides him/her the playing field on which he/she can fully utilize the available linguistic resources to achieve writing purposes.  The set of role relationships, the tenor of the social situation also defines the  writing functions, for instance, to express emotions, or convey information.  The writer 15  writes to negotiate and transform relationships, assuming different interpersonal positioning as he/she interacts with others.  These affect the amount and type of  functions that the writer can enact in the text. The mode covers the channel of communication – the genre and the use of various semiotic systems, such as visuals, as the writer sees fit to fulfill the writing purpose. The complexities of writing can be summed up by the notion of ‘the writer’s agenda’ (Meyer, 1992) which refers to “the issues which assumed an urgency for the writer” (p. 7).  According to Meyer, the issues at stake might vary greatly but all involve  decision making.  As determined by field, tenor, and mode, the act of writing involves  making choices between the different means and intent in representing meaning.  The  writer might focus on what message to get across with the writing piece, and this in turn determines the functions that he/she would enact in it.  He/She might be conscious of  some problems or limitations in the writing act that might need to be attended to in order for him/her to be understood by the reader.  The issues might range from mechanical  aspects of writing, such as the spelling of individual words, to the length, structure, and level of complexity of the text required to convey the message.  And a greater urgency  might revolve round the features of the text, its lexico-grammatical features, and the use of graphics to perform the functions intended.  A writer’s agenda is transactional  (Rosenblatt, 1978) and changes in response to particular settings and the children’s developing understanding of the uses of written language.  Child writers can learn from  experience which settings support the addressing or expansion of their agenda, and when they are obliged to set aside their own agenda to succumb to that of others. As writers address the issues of communication in an agenda that is urgent for them, such as conveying a message to a person across time and space, they have to make a number of decisions.  They make choices with regard to the variability and  acceptability of the text; they also have to decide which features of the text are more important than others and have to be handled with greater energy or urgency.  An  agenda also extends to the choice of the systems of written language, the genre, the structure, and the linguistic features that are shaped by the function and the personal purposes of engaging in a particular writing activity (Halliday, 1985; Swales, 1990).  16  1.4 Theoretical concepts in second language writing 1.4.1 The Role of Writing in Early Second Language Acquisition The field of second language (L2) writing has traditionally focused on students in higher education.  The vast majority of research and literature has dealt with college or  advanced level ESL student writers, and their development of writing abilities in content areas needed for academic success.  Early second writing has been under-represented in  the past, but the last two decades have seen an increased interest in addressing the needs of young ESL writers in their learning contexts. Such interest focuses on “the development of L2 literacy from the writer’s first encounter with a second language through the completion of high school education” (Matsuda & De Pew, 2002, p. 262). A number of L2 literacy researchers have already undertaken study in the area, for example, Edelsky (1989), Hudelson (1984, 1986, 1989a, 1989b), and Urzua (1987). However, research on early L2 writing has not become a major focus in second language acquisition studies (Matsuda & De Pew, 2002). Much research has been carried out in the learning of reading and writing of bilingual children, but literacy in bilingual education is concerned primarily with reading rather than an equal emphasis on both reading and writing. Traditionally, under the influence of European structuralist theory, such as the work of Saussure, spoken language has been privileged as the primary mode of communication in language development studies (Hymes & Fought, 1981).  However,  structural linguistics theories in second language learning have given writing a greater role in the language classroom (Matsuda, 2001). Olson (1994) points out that investigating the development of script as a linguistic transcription system could bring out the underlying linguistic structures into consciousness for study.  Second language  acquisition research has historically drawn on children’s first language acquisition, looking for analogies for developing theoretical frameworks and instructional practices. Two problems are found with the situation as observed by Harklau (2002).  Firstly,  where extensive empirical studies on early childhood language acquisition can be found to inform linguistics theory, a gap exists in the study of language acquisition between early childhood and the school years and beyond, a time where syntax and language knowledge continue to develop (Nippold, 1998). For second language writers, the  17  symbolising systems of the language have to be dealt with the use of graphophonic, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic cues to represent meaning.  This gap poses  difficulties for developing theoretical perspectives and pedagogy for second language learning contexts in which most of the learners are of school age and not before. Secondly, in the field of early childhood language acquisition, spoken language has been the major concern and literacy has often been overlooked.  Harklau (2002) points to a  need to understand such differences and to formulate an adequate theory to explore how second language children exploit literacy in their early stage of learning a second language. In a traditional view, writing is little more than transcribing speech, and writing instruction is thought to potentially hinder the development of oral language (Graves & Stuart, 1985).  However, empirical evidence has shown that L2 literacy can actually  facilitate rather than interfere with the development of general linguistic competence (Silva & Matsuda, 2002).  Many second language learners live in western communities  where a print-rich environment is a common phenomenon.  The importance of literacy  has grown in contemporary societies, and the complexity of literacy has been widely recognized in both community and institutional contexts.  Even without the face-to-face  interaction found in speech, the use of text is dialogic; it involves a written input and an output for an intended audience (Bakhtin, 1986).  Olson (1994) contends that “literacy is  a social condition” (p. 273), and that readers and writers belong to a textual community who share common ways of reading and interpreting texts.  This perspective is reflective  of Bahktin’s view that reading and writing are powerful means of communication and interaction, with effective linguistic input and output between a language user and other users whose language he/she appropriates.  The socializing effect of written  communication in daily life experiences has continually increased with the advancement of informational technology (Millard, 2005).  The potential contributions of literacy to  second language acquisition are too valuable to be overlooked. The role of writing in second language acquisition has been delineated by Harklau (2002) who situates the issue of second language writing within the disciplinary context of applied linguistics and second language studies.  She calls for more emphasis on  writing in classroom-based studies, particularly at elementary and secondary school  18  levels.  It is essential to explore the distinct nature of early second language writing in  order to “formulate an adequate theory for how second language learners exploit literacy in the initial stages of learning a second language” (p. 334). 1.4.2 Genre Development of Second Language Learners The interest in studying children’ genre development arises from an awareness of their need to understand how language forms and generic text structures are used to present ideas and information using appropriate linguistic patterns. has also taken on a sociopolitical dimension.  Learning of genres  Martin (1989) believes that the learning of  a range of genre forms in writing will empower students because the ability to use writing for understanding and exploring how the world works offers opportunities for change and academic success.  He argues for extensive instruction in factual writing, particularly  expository writing, in the elementary school literacy curriculum while not discounting the value of narrative and expressive writing.  The attribution of a social purpose as well as  a functional purpose to genres, he argues, requires genre structures to be made explicit to learners.  The learning of genres is not only a socialization process but also a reflection  of cultural ideology; it indicates to learners the assumptions and expectations of particular communities with regard to their use of language and valued knowledge (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996). A key issue with children’s genre learning is whether they can benefit from instruction in academic and curricular genres (Chapman, 2004).  Halliday’s (1973)  emphasis on the functional use of language in context provides the theoretical framework for whole language approaches, but meaningful communication through written language may need to be structured.  Christie (1993) believes that mastering the necessary  linguistic resources for dealing with particular curricular content gives the learner control over the content.  From this perspective, it is critical for second language writers to  know how the discourse of curricular content should be structured, and to learn school valued genres.  While many elementary ESL classrooms focus on learning narrative  genres, educators should be more aware of the need to familiarize learners with genres associated with content area writing (Riley & Reedy, 2000).  Through working with  information that relates to other aspects of everyday life, the children can expand their interest in and knowledge of their physical and social worlds.  The Australian  19  perspective on writing development emphasizes the benefit of genre instruction for second language learners, and the importance of connecting language use to social purposes (Cope & Kalantzis, 1993).  These genre theorists believe that gaining power  over knowledge of text structures in content areas helps students to gain recognition in particular discourse communities.  Hence, genre instruction has potential for “the  empowerment of the socially disempowered, particularly children from non-privileged classes” (Leki, 2002, p. 68) through the process of “transculturation” (Zamel, 1997). The Zamel study is based on a concept of literacy practices as going beyond issues of context and the text to the cultural uses and meanings of reading and writing (Street, 1995).  Genres, conceptualized as culturally and socially constructed rather than  just a technical component of literacy, can be used as a vehicle to examine how second language children appropriate textual forms and features of texts they read or produce in school for personal and social use in daily life.  Anne Dyson (2001) demonstrates that  children appropriate narratives from cartoons, songs, and classroom texts, recontextualizing materials from diverse sources to inform their writing. 1.4.3 Multimodality in Early Second Language Writing Child writers are sign makers who use resources available to them in their sociocultural environments (Kendrick, McKay, & Moffatt, 2005). The signs that child writers use in their drawings and other kinds of visuals to produce and convey meaning reflect the here and now of their environment as well as the resources they draw from their environment (Kress, 1997). The meanings they attribute to the signs are not arbitrary, but reflect what is imminent for the writer at the moment of text production, the here and now of the social context (Kress & Jewitt, 2003).  The sign-maker is  “constantly transformative of the set of resources of the group and of her/himself” (Kress, 2001, p. 401).  The drawings accompanying the text reflect the reality of the writing  context as imagined by the child writer and also represent his or her beliefs, values, and biases; they can thus be a rich source of information about children’s ideas and conceptualizations in their literacy development (Kendrick et al., 2005), offering insights into “who the child is, including individual intentions, as well as cultural, social, and environmental conditions surrounding the making of the drawing” (p. 186).  20  Children’s use of both visual and verbal semiotic systems as meaning-making resources has specific relevance for second language teaching. language learners with an additional channel for composing.  Images provide second Like their native English  speaking counterparts, second language children use talk and drawing to help convey meaning of a text.  Images provide an essential alternative resource with which they  encode and communicate meaning where language competence falls short of the demand of the moment.  However, such acts should not be taken to suggest that once the second  language learner acquires sufficient proficiency in the language, the use of visual semiotics would be deemed as redundant.  Rather, as Kress (2000) contends, in looking  at children’s writing, one could not appreciate its full meaning without taking the image and writing together, there being “a semantic trade among speech, image, and writing (and other modes, too, and via other senses – touch, feel, taste) that is, simply, human” (p. 339). With the advance of technology, children’s access to literacy has become more diverse from those experienced by their parents; new technologies find their way into different aspects of their reading and writing, providing easy access to other forms of meaning making, and increasing the multimodality of communication channels and processes (Graves & Stuart, 1985; Kress & van Leeuwen, 1996).  Images are not just  complementary to language but assume tasks which language cannot perform (Kendrick & McKay, 2004).  In writing situations where children can exercise more control over  their construction of text, children have more choice in choosing modes of meaning making and use of materials.  Choosing among different semiotic resources, such as  verbal, visual or other modes of representation, and suitable materials, surfaces, substances and tools, the children turn their writing into a multimodal literacy artifact derived from their material efforts and situated in their lives (Ormerod & Ivanič, 2000). Hence, second language educators should not maintain that their role is confined to learners’ use of language only, but need to pay due attention to other features contributing to the meaning of a text.  Particularly in classrooms where teachers and learners do not  share the same cultural, historical and language background, teachers should try to understand and help “children transform what they know into modes of representation that allow for a full range of human experience” (Kendrick & McKay, 2004).  21  1.4.4 Connecting Home and School Literacies of Second Language Children As a consequence of the social and demographic impacts of postcolonialism and economic globalization, many school systems have within their student population groups from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; this situation has become the norm rather than the exception as it was thirty years ago (Luke, 2003).  Statistics from a  recent population census in Canada show that in 2006, 19.8 percent of the total population was immigrants, the highest ratio in 75 years.  In this and the previous census  (2001), China remains the country most immigrants come from.  In Richmond, a city  near Vancouver with the highest percentage of immigrants in the country, 15.4 percent of the students aged between 5 and 16 are immigrants who moved to Canada over the past 5 years.  Almost two-thirds of the students in the city speak a language other than English  or French at home (Statistics Canada, 2007).  These statistics point to a need for  attending to the literacy instructional requirements of the increasing number of children from immigrant families, either newcomers to the country or born of immigrant parents. The actual practices and demands of literacy have been undergoing transition (Alvermann, 2002). To address the demands of these new times (Luke, 2003), literacy research focuses on how to serve the needs of different ethnic and linguistic groups from diasporic communities, and to redress differential access to cultural and linguistic capital; from this new body of research emerge new configurations of language, literacy, power, and the meaning of “difference” and “diversity” in literate identities and practices (Luke, 2003).  Some of these studies use hermeneutic, sociocultural, and critical approaches to  redefine second language acquisition (e.g., Norton & Toohey, 2003; Pennycook, 2001). Such approaches focus on the interrelationships of social and linguistic fields and how people traverse between them, turning attention to children learning in communities and home contexts as well as in school.  In his discussion of language and literacy in  education policy in multilingual societies, Luke (2003) stresses the importance of knowing how people “use languages, texts, discourses, and literacies as convertible and transformative resources in homes, communities, and schools, [and how] these resources are recognized or misrecognised, remediated and converted in school-based literacy instruction” (p. 139).  22  Research into the development of early childhood literacy reveals that children coming to school have widely different literacy experiences: children’s literacy education begins within the home and the community, as they share literacy events with significant adults (Millard, 2005; Teale, 1986; Wells, 1986). writing also vary widely.  Their experiences with language and  Despite such variation, home literacy experiences in  mainstream families are often congruent with school practices which often privilege the dominant white, middle class, and Eurocentric culture.  These families and their children  read and write at home, bringing items from home to share in class.  Much of their  interests, literacy habits, and ways and functions of using language and texts are in common with those in the school discourse (Cairney, 2000; Duke & Purcell-Gates, 2003; Heath, 1983; Pahl, 2001; Taylor, 1983).  However, children from diverse cultures and  backgrounds often have home literacy activities that do not match school experiences. As suggested by research studies, for example, Heath (1983), Purcell-Gates (1996), and Teale (1986), such variation from the literacy practices of the dominant culture often works to the disadvantage of second language children from low socioeconomic status backgrounds; they risk academic failure in school curriculum which is designed for white, middle class children.  Because of the lack of resources, both social and material, they  do not experience written text and other materials related to literacy in the target language to the degree the mainstream children do; they have little exposure to children’s literature, writing for self-expression, or meeting school expectations, such as sharing items from home.  These children experience home and school as separate, the distance varying  according to the extent to which they make connections between home and school literacy experiences.  Moreover, the children may be torn between the demands of  parents, teachers, and peers who may have conflicting expectations because of cultural differences in priorities and values (McCarthey, 1997). For second language learners, the linking of home and school literacies in early schooling facilitates children’s literacy development (Duke & Purcell-Gates, 2003; Moll & Gonzalez, 1994).  However, the making of school-home connections was often based  on a deficit model with schools dominating the relationship in a one-way traffic transmission of school-based models of learning (McCarthey, 1997; Millard, 2005). The deficit model “precludes engagement with young children’s developing media  23  interests in favor of Big Book and environment print…ignoring cultural differences and the habits of learning or semiotic preferences created in homes and communities” (Millard, 2005, p. 57). Teachers can be agents of socialization to assist students in their language acquisition.  Showing recognition and making use of the practices, values, and  beliefs of the students’ cultural community and incorporating them in the language learning environment, teachers can help learners traverse continuously and fluidly between their home and school cultures building on what they have acquired at home (Wong Fillmore & Snow, 2002).  On the other hand, mismatches between the nature and  uses of literacy at home and at school may be a cause of children experiencing difficulties in literacy development in early schooling (Barton, 1994; Heath, 1983), as when the curriculum does not make provision for students to transfer their literacy knowledge and understanding between home and school settings. 1.5 Significance of the study An investigation of the functions and genres of home and school writing will help broaden understanding and bridge the gap between children’s home and school cultures. It also allows us to see how they draw on social and cultural resources from home to develop as writers.  A comparative study of functions and genres in home and school  settings will unveil the abilities and potential of children in using written language for self expression and communication when given full rein to their imagination within their capabilities of using English as a second language. While children in immigrant families often lack the requisite cultural capital, and, possibly, also access to material resources because of their relatively low socioeconomic status background, it does not necessarily mean that home writing experiences for these children are not as extensive or varied as those of mainstream children.  A deeper and  informed understanding of home and school writing functions will illuminate how these second language children make use of their available assets to integrate inherited values and beliefs about literacy into their writing across situational and cultural contexts.  To  date, only a small amount of research has studied how continuity or discontinuity between home and school writing practices may have potential impact on children’s development and engagement with writing (Perry, Nordby, & VandeKamp, 2003). This  24  researcher has not found any studies focusing on how Chinese ESL children from immigrant families write for personal and social purposes. Another significant contribution of the study is the understanding it provides about what can be appropriated from one domain, the home, to inform the learning and practice of writing in another, the school. school and home mismatches.  This can be used to inform practices to mend  While learning to write is no longer defined as the  accumulation of a set of discrete competencies, it is important for educators to look further to other forms and patterns of meaning construction embedded in children’s out-of-school literacy practices, the “distinctive patterns in the home environment which mark them as members of specific sociocultural groups” (Millard, 2001, p. 16).  A focus  on genre in home and school writing serves to illustrate how minority children utilize their home resources and appropriate texts available in their specific home environment alongside those offered in school that cater for all children alike.  This can shed light on  how these linguistically and culturally diverse children can mobilize the resources available to them to create multimodal artifacts across the premises of home and school written communication, appropriating genres from popular culture and other reading materials available at home (Pahl, 2001). The research study is based on the premise that the understanding of the functions and genres of writing at home has the potential to inform writing instruction in classrooms where children from minority groups are more often the norm than the exception.  It could provide useful insights to teachers who are teaching children from  cultural and linguistic backgrounds that they do not share.  Teachers’ middle-class  upbringing and learning experiences may not allow them to appreciate the socioeconomic environment of their students, and neither are they familiar with their lives outside the school (McCarthey, 1997).  Second language children’s habits and social purposes of  writing in their home and community may vary from those valued and practiced in school writing instruction, and hence their performance in school may not truly reflect their abilities and potentials.  But often the responsibility for inadequate performance is  passed onto the family and parents who are considered to be not doing enough to help their children enculturate into the mainstream school discourse.  A better understanding  of children’s writing practices in the home may help to remediate the deficit model of  25  school-home relationships.  Information about how their students write at home, the  functions and genres they engage in through writing as compared to those they are taught in school would help teachers develop ‘culturally responsive instruction’ (Au, 1993). Such informed understanding would also benefit parents of the second language children.  They could better realize and appreciate the role of the family and the home  environment in their children’s writing development.  The study provides insights about  how parents could help their children develop their writing ability at home by providing social, literacy, and material support. The recognition of their value as key facilitators in their children’s education would also bring about more frequent and effective connections with the children’s schools.  Such connections do not come automatically  but may need to be structured by teachers with support from parents. In summary, the findings suggest how second language learners’ interests and knowledge can be smoothly transferred from home to school and vice versa as they develop their writing ability in the two settings.  Writing instruction can build on the  children’s own purposes for writing as practiced at home and their knowledge of genre recontextualized from various sources in the two settings to realize meaning that has significance for them.  Given such opportunities, the children can weave their school  and home literacy experiences, creating texts centered not only on school-related topics but also on wider social and cultural issues in their home and community.  26  Chapter 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE: FUNCTIONS AND GENRES OF CHILDREN’S WRITING This chapter presents a review of empirical research findings on children’s writing functions and written genres.  The review includes studies on children’s writing  functions in school and at home, research on the development of written genres in children, and how they can be classified.  This is followed by a review of literature on  second language children writing at home and how their school and home writing experiences are interrelated.  A review of investigations into the use of popular culture  and multimodality in children’s writing is also included. 2.1 Language functions Language is used to mediate all domains of human activity and social experience. Children are involved in reading and writing to various degrees in their daily lives and develop their language through using it in purposeful ways (Cazden, 1981; Halliday, 1973; Heath, 1983). They learn to read and write through observing others using written language (Teale, 1986), and interacting with literate adults, such as parents and older siblings, in activities involving literacy, and constructing meaning using printed materials with the help of scaffolding provided by adults (Vygotsky, 1978; Wells, 1983). The ways in which children become literate is important information to help understand how literacy should be defined and how it can be acquired.  These ways  have implications for school instructional pedagogy as well as children’s learning to read and write in the home and the community.  Understanding the functions of language  generally is useful in understanding writing functions in particular.  Michael Halliday’s  (1973) seminal work on language functions is the most cited classification in educational literature.  He divided language functions into seven categories that formed the basis of  his functional linguistic theory of discourse (1975, 1978). 1. instrumental language – to meet needs or wants; 2. regulatory language – to control the behavior of others; 3. interactional language – to establish or define social relationships;  27  4. personal language – to express one’s self, individuality, feelings and emotions; 5. imaginative language- to create a new arrangement of the environment synthesized from separate past experience or events; 6. heuristic language – to acquire knowledge and understanding, to explore the environment; 7. representational language – to communicate information, to report facts or conclusions drawn from facts. Other researchers adopted a similarly social and cognitive approach in classifying language functions.  In more recent research on children’s language functions, Dyson  (1986) found that kindergarten children use oral language for a variety of functions. These included representational, directive, heuristic, personal and interactional uses of language.  Using Halliday’s (1973) categories of language functions, King (1985)  studied the talk of first and second grade children.  She found that the first grade  children could use oral language for instrumental, regulatory, interactional, and personal functions, while those at the end of first grade and the beginning of second grade developed the heuristic, imaginative, and informative uses of language.  For children in  particular, language helps them to project into the future and construct an imaginary world.  It should also be born in mind that, as posited by Halliday (1973), the functions  of language change for children as they grow older and develop their abilities in literacy. Moreover, different forms of language serve different types of functions.  Written  language plays a distinct role from speech for achieving life purposes and hence serves different functions. 2.2 Writing functions Writing is a social practice in a literate society.  It varies with use, and learning  to write involves learning to use language in specific and culturally embedded ways (Farr, 1986).  Written language is selected as a mode of communication over speech in many  situations.  As a semiotic medium, it is relatively more visible and permanent but less  interactive when compared to spoken language; the writing process also proceeds more slowly and allows time for more careful planning (Clark & Ivanič, 1997).  28  Research efforts in the functions of writing started decades ago.  Britton,  Burgess, Martin, McLeod, and Rosen (1975) conducted pioneering work on language functions in children’s writing.  They contend that writing is used to accomplish three  basic functions: expressive, transactional and poetic.  The expressive function is the  most basic one: expressive discourse is closest to the self of the writer who verbalizes thoughts and feelings and shows relationships with the reader.  Other functions develop  from expressive ones into a continuum of transactional and poetic functions. transactional function is to get things done and is highly referential.  The  As for the poetic  function, discourse aims at creating an aesthetic verbal object that pleases the reader. The writer’s main concern is the textual structure of the poetic creations and the feelings and attitudes attributed to a person, situation or object in the text. Researchers have extended Britton et al.’s (1975) framework of language functions to children’s writing development.  Children have been found to use writing  for a variety of purposes other than expressive, transactional or poetic functions. Among them are to provide memory support, to help order information, indicate ownership, and organize daily activities or personal interests (Bissex, 1980; Dyson, 1989; Heath, 1983; Hudson, 1986; Newkirk, 1989).  Moreover, children also produce texts  that possess symbolic and affective significance for recording personal events or experiences (Bissex, 1980; Dyson, 1989; Scollon & Scollon, 1981).  Writing has also  been used to substitute oral language either in the absence of a listener or where there would be embarrassment if speech were used; it provides a comfortable distance in time and space between the sender and the recipient of the message in certain social situations (Shuman, 1986). Writing can also serve a mimetic function which involves mimicking the style, voices and textual features of other writers (Heath, 1983; Hudson, 1986; Scollon & Scollon, 1981).  Young children are reported to imitate the styles and genres from texts  they are exposed to, such as popular culture, children’s books and fairy tales. approximation is an attempt to try out adult roles and responsibilities.  Their  It is also an  exploration of their literate identities that they might assume, transform or resist some day; it is an act of constructing and affirming their identity and developing a sense of  29  personal history (McGinley & Kamberelis, 1993) through a process of “discourse experimentation” (p. 6). Children’s purposes for writing are often derived from their daily lives in work and play.  In Goodman’s (1986) study of young children’s literacy behaviors, it was  found that their writing functioned in multiple ways: to show ownership, including authorship; label pictures of objects or scenes; extend memory; share information about self and others; invite and express gratitude; represent real and imagined events; and control behavior and the flow of information.  Through play, children experiment with  the functions of writing (Bissex, 1980; Bruner, 1984; Dyson, 1989; Vygotsky, 1978). Bissex (1980) observed that her son’s major purpose for writing in Grade One was to learn to write, and that the majority of his writing revolved around his play activities and drawing. cards.  The second major function was sending messages through writing notes and  She observed that writing had meaning to him as an individual and as a cultural  being, which suggests that “humans are meaning-making creatures, and language – spoken and written – is an important means for making and sharing meanings” (p. 107). She also found that the young child used writing in combination with labels and signs to convey message at first, and then later for encoding speech. In reviewing children’s individual writing functions, it is important to note that a piece of writing can serve multiple functions, as reported by Dyson (1989).  In her  studies of children’s writing, she found that very often interpersonal and social functions are integrated with other functions; the act of story writing is often loaded with several functions at the same time, such as representing meaning, interacting with others, and reflecting on personal experiences..  As Britton (1970) observes, sometimes young  children write not just to communicate but also to produce written objects for others. The written objects are used to convey feelings or attitudes besides information, as when children write to maintain or change their social relationships in the family or community. Sometimes they write for playful purposes, using the written medium to establish or foster links with their peers. 2.2.1 Functions of Writing in School As children acquire language and literacy, the efficiency of development is closely related to the ways in which language is put to use as they learn it; how  30  effectively language is learnt depends on how it is used by the learner (Bruner, 1984). Writing being an integral, useful part of the school curriculum should be related to students’ individual needs (Mitz, 1981).  King (1985) comments that schools are obliged  to “extend the opportunities of children to use language for an ever increasing range of purposes - especially to use it to learn” (p. 37). While it is generally accepted that writing development should be more concerned with function than with form, and that a function-based approach to literacy development has been established since the 1980’s, some schools still put emphasis on the formal aspects of writing at the expense of writing purposes and how writing should serve children’s needs. A limited number of studies have been done to explore the functions of writing in school.  Following Halliday’s classification system, Mitz (1981) studied first grade  children’s school writing and found that it was used primarily for personal, interactive, and informative functions. were seldom used.  She also noted that imaginative and regulatory functions  Writing functions differed somewhat for slightly older children who  started to use writing to explore the broader social world beyond personal parameters. For instance, in a two-year study of the writing of second and third graders, Florio and Clark (1982) observed that the children used writing for four functions: to participate in the community, to know oneself and others, to occupy free time, and to show academic competence. school.  More recent studies saw the emergence of creative uses of writing in  For example, Millard (2005) focused on the narrative writing of a class of  second graders and identified a problem solving function when composing adventures. The children were also encouraged to introduce familiar scenarios and characters from their favourite stories in books, comics, videos or computer games into their writing for expressive and creative functions.  This shows that with appropriate teaching strategies,  the children’s preferred modes of narrative could be accommodated within the current school literacy framework to serve various functions even within a single genre. McGinley and Kamberelis (1991, 1993) introduced an alternative language arts programme designed to encourage children to use reading and writing for functions that they found relevant to their lives.  The researchers found that while a group of  third/fourth graders used writing overwhelmingly for personal functions, they also used it for social and political functions in order to establish or transform their social  31  relationships with others.  Results also showed that a single book or piece of writing  could have multiple functions which were frequently intertwined to support mutual meaning making.  Children constructed their own repertoire of reading and writing  functions that embodied their interests, needs, and issues; these reflected their life histories and individuality, constructing themselves as individuals as well as textual meaning. McCarthey (1997) explored the connections between school and home literacy practices with five children from diverse backgrounds aged eight to ten.  She noted that  certain aspects of the curriculum and the participation structure seemed to contribute towards connecting school and home for some students but not for others: the content of the reading and writing materials were distant from some students’ experiences. Moreover, the focus of class instruction was on the learning and use of literacy.  The  writing activities, writing workshops, and research projects could have facilitated the use of students’ personal experiences but they were too “individualistic in nature” (p. 174). The student journal entries described out of school experiences but children were seldom encouraged to share with peers in class, implying that they were written for the teacher as the sole audience. The review of the studies reflects that much of the writing done in schools was not authentic, and hence children were not prepared for real writing in life.  As suggested by  findings from research on children’s writing in school, the major purposes for writing in academic contexts in school are, firstly, to promote learning, that is learning to write and then to learn content, and secondly, to demonstrate learning for assessment purposes, giving evidence of possession of content knowledge and literacy development (Chapman, 2002).  Staab and Smith (1986) argue that children have innate notions about the nature  and uses of language and understand what writing can do for them.  These researchers  contend that students should write for genuine functions, to accomplish a task in a situation that they believe they truly have an opportunity to make a change, rather than merely to practice particular writing skills.  To enable them to bring meaning to a  writing task in the same way that they and adults do in out of school settings, they suggest that teachers should adopt a functional perspective, and raise learners’ awareness of functions so that writing tasks should hold personal and social meaning to the child.  32  This calls for a more productive literacy pedagogy that relocates classroom literacy activities within the needs and experiences of the children’s daily lives, where the meaning of literacy should transcend the comprehension and production of text to using reading and writing to “understand, negotiate, and transform human experience” (McGinley & Kamberelis, 1993, p. 3). 2.2.2 Functions of Writing at Home Extensive research has been conducted on children’s writing at home, for example, Heath (1983), Rogers (2004), and Taylor and Dorsey-Gaines (1988).  Less attention has  been given to the functions that home writing serves in comparison to school-based writing.  However, with the advance of a sociocultural perspective to literacy learning  and teaching, the issue has become a distinct research area in its own right within the study of children’s writing development. Meyer (1992) developed his notion of writer’s agenda from a two-year case study of a child’s writing at home and in school during kindergarten and first-grade.  A  writer’s agenda was embedded within and across the many social settings in which the child writer lived.  It includes making decisions about the salient features of the text and  other issues that span across the system of the written language, such as spelling and choice of vocabulary.  The school writing curriculum has an agenda defined by  education authorities and interpreted by the teacher, prescribing instructional functions that do not always address the children’s own agenda.  However, in out-of-school  settings, young writers are free to use their linguistic resources and conceptual content to construct meaning for themselves, and to achieve writing functions that originate from and belong to them.  The notion of writer’s agenda may explain why writing in  out-of-school settings is often more flexible and constructive for child writers.  Studying  her young son’s use of written language, Bissex (1980) found considerable differentialization and specialization of writing functions in different contexts.  At home,  her son’s writing was done for a multitude of purposes similar to those served by speech. In school, the writing tended to be repetitious and monotonous, and there was rarely overlap of vocabulary between home and school writing. A striking feature of home literacy activities is their social nature.  Taylor (1982)  observes that functions of children’s writing at home are closely related to their daily life  33  activities, such as making signs for selling lemonade, listing names for club membership, or designing menus and sales slips as they engage in dramatic play.  Teale (1986) points  out that reading and writing function primarily as parts of social activities in the home or community rather than as isolated events in themselves.  He notes that “literacy  occurred within particular socially assembled situations and the vast majority of the time was engaged in for reasons other than the reading or writing itself” (p. 184).  In a study  of the relations between home background and literacy development of preschool children, Teale (1986) identifies nine domains of human activity mediated by literacy that young children participated in or observed in the home.  These are, namely, daily living  routines, entertainment, school-related activity, work, religion, interpersonal communication, teaching and learning, general information, and storybook time. 2.2.3 Functions of Writing at Home for Second Language Children In research studies of the literacy development of children from diverse backgrounds, the social function of writing at home is just as prominent.  Hammer et al.  (2003) studied the writing functions of young working class children in White, Black and Hispanic families and observed the multifaceted nature of literacy in the home. Similarly, McCarthey (1997) found that writing in the home of Hispanic lower socioeconomic status children serves a variety of social and personal functions, such as sending invitations to parties and newspaper advertisements.  Like the working class  children of Trackton and Roadville in Heath’s (1983) study, these children and their families used writing to maintain social relationships and to serve religious functions. At the same time, they viewed literacy as a valuable tool for success in school.  The  young writers learned the meaning of print by accessing literacy materials in their home, and appreciated the role it performed in the concrete exigencies of their everyday lives. Rogers (2004) researched immigrant children and their parents’ writing, and demonstrated that most out-of-school writing was done for fulfilling social purposes, but provided little information on the types of writing that the participants engaged in. Paratore et al. (2005) studied the functions of household writing samples of a group of 17 preschool and elementary level immigrant children.  They observed that the children,  with few exceptions, wrote for three purposes: learning, recreation, and social interaction. They wrote in diverse genres which varied according to age groups.  One significant  34  observation was that for these immigrant children, writing was a family event in which members of the family sat together with the explicit purpose of writing.  The parents  wrote to learn and conduct daily routine tasks, modeling the practice of writing for the children and providing materials for them to participate. Findings from empirical research as reviewed above all point to the personal and social nature of children’s writing at home, regardless of the children’s background. They write to fulfill a real purpose or function just as they observe what their family members or adults do, and not to practice language or writing for its own sake.  From a  Vygotskian (1978) perspective that signifies a direct link between the society and the mind, cognitive activities, such as reading and writing, are social in nature.  Cognitive  psychology has informed our understanding of the different ways to become literate (Scribner & Cole, 1981).  It follows that children’s written language activities are  directly affected by the functions for which literacy mediates the social activities in the family and the community. 2.3 Written genres A study of writing should aim at whole discourses in order to understand how features of text vary according to different kinds of writing (Cooper, 1983).  Writing and  speech have different structural patterns, and genres that appear in writing are not found in speech; learning to write involves learning new ways of using grammar and mastering the structural and organizational patterns of written language to perform different rhetorical actions in various genres (Martin, 1985). According to Duke and Purcell-Gates (2003), genres are “patterns in the way language is used: that is, it refers to patterns in the situations in which a text is used and patterns in the features of that text – its language, format, structure, and content” (p. 31).  As we write, we make various  linguistic choices resulting in different rhetorical patterns to serve our writing purposes in relation to context. 2.3.1 Classifications of Written Genres Viewed from a sociocognitive perspective, genres are not just rigid forms of discourse to be adopted across all social and cultural situations.  They are ways of  organizing and achieving social actions that we appropriate from experience or learning and are made possible by the rhetorical uses of text.  With this shift in definition, the  35  classification of written genres focuses on the social and cultural roles that they perform, moving from a structural to a functional perspective. Several researchers classify genres adopting a functional approach.  Based on the  results of their study, Britton et al. (1975) divide language functions into expressive, transactional and poetic categories, as described earlier.  They also propose some  categories of genres for fulfilling such functions: chronicles, biographies, and narratives. Another system well known in education literature divides genres into narration, description, exposition and argument (Perera, 1984).  Another functional classification  developed by Moffett and Wagner (1983) includes the following genres: word plays, labels and captions of non-verbal content, actual and invented dialogue to represent written language, invented stories that are recounts of imagined events, true stories often written in past tense, direction/information of generalized facts written in present tense, and ideas/reflections written in present tense to generalize thoughts.  Similarly, King  and Rentel (1983) adopt a functional approach to interpreting children’s written genres. In their study of first and second graders, they identified the following categories: drawing with no text, statement/label with a single word or phrase for description, composition to describe some current experience in the present tense, interaction to describe shared experiences, chronicles to describe real events expressed in a story frame with unity in character, actions and theme, and tale or fictional story. Some researchers classified genres according to time, and others focused on the nature of the content.  Perera (1984) classified genres in school writing along the  dimension of time: chronological and non-chronological.  The first division,  chronological, is similar to narrative and contains verbs that describe actions or events with temporal connectives, such as “next” and “then”.  Non-chronological writing, on  the other hand, is characterized by the use of verbs of attribution or attitude. Chronological, or narrative forms, can be further divided according to the relative distance between the writer and the reader.  Ranging from most personal to the most  distant are autobiographical accounts or personal stories, biographical accounts or stories about others and accounts of processes.  A more common classification system found in  the literature is the division between narrative and non-narrative writing according to the nature of the content.  Narrative forms can be comparable to chronological writing and  36  non-narrative to non-chronological.  Narrative forms can be further divided into three  types - non-fiction stories about the children’s own lives; fiction or stories with real or realistic characters and which could be true but are in fact not; fantasy with make-believe characters’ stories which could not be true (Scarlett & Wolf, 1979). While genres can be classified in different ways and from different perspectives, they range from more personal to more distant and are based on either real experience or imagination as commonly found among the various classification systems.  The  different kinds of genres identified reveal the extensive nature of writing and writing purposes in the use of language.  Hence, it is important for children to learn how to  distinguish among different genres, to understand how distinctive features of language are used for particular social and cultural contexts and functions (Smith & Hiles, 2006). 2.3.2 Development of Written Genres Children understand the different natures of speech and writing (Goodman, 1986; Halliday, 1973; Sulzby, 1986).  As they acquire literacy, they gradually move from a  dialogic form of using language in speech to monologic discourse where they write in different structural patterns to fulfill various social or personal functions.  The  multidisciplinary body of work in genre studies has generated extensive research efforts in studying children’s acquisition of genre knowledge.  Pappas and Petegrew (1998)  argue that genre knowledge helps writers to construct texts and readers to read texts.  A  critical part of learning to write is the internalization of knowledge of different genres and the rhetorical purposes and situations for using them (Chapman, 1994; Kamberelis & Bovino, 1999).  Based on a sociocultural perspective of literacy, this learning and  socialization process also entails developing the ability to appropriate cultural practices and resources for communicative purposes (Wollman-Bonilla, 2001).  It is critical that  as children develop their genre awareness, they should realize that genres are “metaphorical starting points for discursive activity” (Kamberelis & Bovino, 1999, p. 138) rather than rigid moulds to fill with language for prescribed communicative purposes. Research studies show that learning genre is an integral part of children’s literacy development, and that such learning is an emergent process (Chapman, 1999, 2002). Investigation of the influence of genres on the cognitive and social construction of literacy knowledge ranges from a traditional focus on narrative, for example, Pappas  37  (1993), to curriculum genres and informational writing in content subjects, such as science, music and social studies (Chapman, 2002).  From a socioconstructivist  perspective, children appropriate the functions and forms of written language from their social environment and their classroom context, using literate others and literacy artifacts, for example, the alphabet as a semiotic system, books, pen and paper, and the computer as resources to learn to write (Chapman, 1995, 2006). Children’s sense of genre grows as they borrow their conceptions of genre from books and other media.  Smith and Hiles (2006) studied the genre development of two  first graders over the course of an academic year.  The research objectives were to  investigate the nature of genre development and purpose development, the purposes of different genres, and the opportunities provided by the first-grade classroom to develop the children’s language abilities.  The findings show that young children were able to  develop a great depth of knowledge relating to genres, and that they could make various connections between genres in reading and writing, transferring what they read from books to their text production.  They began by borrowing texts and layouts from their  reading texts and then incorporated them into their writing.  Newkirk (1989) argues that  in the course of this, there is a need to scaffold their approximations to help them construct knowledge about the types of structures and language features that are typically associated with a particular genre. to produce more coherent text.  Building on such knowledge, children would be able  Such scaffolding can be realized both at home through  interactions with family members and also through apprenticeships in social groups, such as the community and the school (Gee, 1990). The development of genre knowledge is not an isolated endeavor practiced for its own sake.  The choice of genre is a response to a specific writing purpose for conveying  specific content to an intended reader.  The understandings of the various characteristics  of text, such as “genre, typical content, functions, and audience” are essential for children learning to write effectively (Zecker, 1996, p. 2). Zecker’s investigation of the writing of first graders reveals intricate relationships between genre and content and between function and audience.  As children become more aware of what is appropriate content  for a writing purpose, they begin to develop a sense of audience.  Directing their writing  for an intended audience, they make specific choices in content to meet the needs of the  38  reader.  And with reference to the content thus selected, the young writers choose the  appropriate genre to realize the functions ascribed to the text.  Thus, as the children  write, content influences their choice of genre, and the needs of the audience affect the ways in which the writing purpose of the text is realized.  When children internalize  these composing possibilities with written language, they develop a repertoire of socially appropriate ways of using language in different contexts and for different purposes. Research evidence shows that children develop genre knowledge early (Duke & Purcell-Gates, 2003; Langer 1986; Smith & Hiles, 2006).  Studies of children’s writing  in school found that their genre awareness starts to develop as early as kindergarten or even earlier.  Donovan (2001), for example, reported from her investigation that  kindergarteners were able to differentiate between narrative and expository genres even before they could write with conventional spelling.  Similarly, Zecker (1996)  demonstrated that Grade 1 writers showed knowledge of text characteristics even before they were able to produce conventionally recognizable texts.  Bereiter and Scardamalia  (1985) found that children, even at an early stage of learning to write, were able to shape their text according to various schematic constraints.  Their enactment of genres was  closely related to objects and activities in their daily experiences.  In addition to stories,  written genres produced by children included non-narrative writing: lists, letters, signs, club membership cards, birthday cards, alphabet books, quizzes and certificates (Bissex, 1980; Newkirk, 1987; Taylor, 1982). Longitudinal studies of children’s writing offer important findings about children’s construction of genre knowledge.  In a study of writing in kindergarten  through Grade 5, Donovan and Smolkin (2002) found that many of the kindergarteners were able to differentiate between narrative and expository texts and could produce writing more advanced than labels and statements, and by the time they reached Grade 2, almost all of the children in the study could do so. Chapman (2002) conducted a longitudinal study of cross curricular writing from kindergarten to Grade 3, documenting a child’s writing development in social studies, science, mathematics and music, and the impact of classroom curriculum and the mode of instruction on his writing development. The findings show that the subject did a considerable amount of content area writing.  39  This focused on expository writing done in a range of genres, starting from simple lists and labels to multi-paragraph reports. 2.3.3 Development of Written Genres for Second Language Children Investigation in second language children’s genre development and instruction has not been given as much attention as that of native English speaking children. However, insights from research findings on genre writing of first language children can throw light on the genre development of their L2 counterparts.  While little information  specifically on non-mainstream children’s writing functions and genres at home can be found, ethnographic work on the learning of children from different social classes provides extensive evidence that school practices in general privilege the interests, habits of meaning making, and home literacy practices of dominant, white, middle class, Eurocentric families (e.g., Cairney, 2002; McCarthey, 1997; Pahl, 2001). Nevertheless, all children regardless of race, social class, and cultural and linguistic background, come to school with multiple experiences that play an important role in their acquisition of literacy (Au, 1993; Cairney, 2002; Heath, 1983; McCarthey, 1997; Teale, 1986).  There is a need to understand children’s home writing process and  products to explore the value they offer for school learning.  The new notions of genre  as described in Chapter 1 have accorded it a revitalized role and potential in the learning and teaching of writing in a wider context. Incorporating a new definition of genre into writing instruction has implications for reconceptualizing writing tasks, purposes and contexts in literacy development (Chapman, 1999).  Based on a sociocultural view of  literacy, writing for children goes beyond composing in specific textual forms to connecting with other people in order to establish social relationships and position themselves with a particular social stance; genre is not taught as an end in itself but for understanding meaningful content (Dyson, 1993). The literature on children’s genre development provides new insights into how educators can better help them learn to write. Its importance has been described by Smith and Hiles (2006) who contend that “[t]he understanding of genre forms, functions, appropriateness, and rhetorical possibilities are not only critical for developing reading abilities; they are also critical to learning to write for particular purposes and contexts” (p. 34).  40  Second language learners are often required to write different kinds of texts for different purposes in various classroom activities, for example, science reports and journals.  Writing across the curriculum is a common literacy practice with L2 learners  in varied age groups (Harklau, 2002).  While expressive and literary texts may be the  focus of writing at elementary level, transactional writing is just as important for literacy development.  Children write to present information across a variety of subjects to meet  curricular requirements.  As part of their content area learning, young ESL learners are  often engaged in informational writing in science and social subjects.  They benefit from  encountering a variety of genres or literary forms through reading: they can see how language functions to present content effectively to the reader to achieve the writing purpose, and thus learn how to make use of genres for obtaining information (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996).  Knowledge of the characteristics of particular genres will help them  create their own literacy texts (Hudelson, 1986). Hence, there is a need for “the legitimate and extensive uses of reading and writing across subject matter and grade levels” (Faltis & Hudelson, 1994, p. 459). 2.3.4 Written Genres in School and at Home Children’s written genres are situated in the various social contexts in which they participate, and are closely related to their communal activities.  Some studies have  focused specifically on children’s writing in the school setting while others compared them across different writing contexts.  Chapman (1999) identified three major genre  contexts in school learning: classroom workplace genres, genres within the language arts (e.g., literary genres), and genres across the curriculum.  Classroom workplace genres  were written to get things done and to achieve genuine communication; they include reminder notes, agendas, and records of attendance.  They had significant relevance for  the children because they were associated with specific classroom routines, and were written for a real purpose that assumed immediacy for them.  In writing across the  curriculum as part of content subject learning, students developed both discipline-related content knowledge and language skills, including genre awareness.  They drew upon  genres as cultural resources and used them as a cognitive tool for constructing knowledge in content subjects.  41  In her study of children writing narratives in school, Dyson (1997) found that for both boys and girls, there were common desires for adventure and action, power, security, and love that urged them to work towards a vision of what was good, whether imaginary or in a real world.  What was significant was the interplay of “the social and ideological  dynamics that undergirded children’s authorial decisions and made those decisions significant markers of, and contributors to, individual and community growth” (p. 92). Regardless of their gender, the child writers used written language to express and pursue their personal interests in various directions.  They made decisions about writing  purposes in relation to audience, and selected appropriate content and genre to realize them in accordance with their personal ideologies and interpretation of social relationships. Research evidence shows that there are different sets of genres written in school and at home.  Duke and Purcell-Gates (2003) studied the genres that young children  encountered in these two settings.  There were different kinds of written language used  for many different purposes all around them in their daily life.  The types of genres and  the frequency in which they were found differed from home to school.  Some of the  genres were the same, such as children’s books, lists of grocery items for shopping, and lists of workbook pages to complete; these artifacts served to link their activities both in the home and in school.  Others were different, for example, the television guide at  home and the poem at school.  It was noted that some of the genres found in the school  were not found in homes or other out-of-school settings.  These “school-only” genres  were used primarily for learning or teaching literacy skills in the school context, as opposed to those that were used for daily communication purposes in informal social situations.  The researchers pointed to a need to increase awareness of the genres that  young children encountered in the two settings to bridge home and school literacies to support their literacy development. Other researchers focused on the differences in the production of genres between the school and the home setting.  Maloy and Edwards (1990) compared the writing done  in school and at home by a group of first-grade monolingual and bilingual children.  The  children were able to select their own topics though they occasionally wrote on teacher-assigned topics.  Their school genres included letters, nonfiction accounts of  42  activities during holidays, and birthday cards.  The researchers concluded that such  school writing could actually have “modeled what could be done at home” (p. 197). Millard’s (2001) case study of the home and school writing of three children, aged 7 to 11 years, showed that they were able to incorporate elements of their personal interests into school-based tasks within a genre.  The children participated in a writing project in  which they mainly wrote narratives.  The girls seemed more adept to self-initiate writing  and to use it for personal and private purposes, for example, writing letters or diaries, and dwelling on fantasies and friendships.  The boys developed their ideas for composing  narratives from simulated play outdoors or characters from computer games and fantasy stories.  However, the researcher observed that the emphasis of the current school  curriculum was on children “replicating and modeling pre-existing written genres and formats” (p. 4), focusing on the written word for communication and neglecting other modes of meaning making, such as graphic representation with pictures and diagrams, and the use of physical modes like drama and play. Similar comments were made by Meyer (1992) who studied the differences between home and school writing of a first-grade student.  Based on his analysis of  writing samples produced by the child writer in the two settings, the researcher lamented the over-emphasis of the school writing activities on the graphophonic and syntactic systems of written language, and doubted to what extent such a stilted focus could benefit the developing writer.  On the other hand, Hammer et al. (2003) denounced the lack of  direct literacy instruction in certain schools systems, arguing that there was not sufficient explicit teaching in the whole language approach; the literacy events in the classrooms were limited to story books that children read on a regular basis and writing materials made readily available to them, and hence not enough emphasis on different genres. 2.3.5 Written Genres in School and at Home for Second Language Children Most of the research on second language children’s writing development focuses on family literacy practices that involve both parents and children writing.  Paratore et al.  (2005) studied writing in immigrant families in order to understand children’s writing at home.  The kindergarteners and first graders composed mainly in drawings narrating  daily events with the added use of labels and captions. members, friends and teachers.  The rest were letters to family  A greater variety of genres was found in the writing of  43  the children from Grade 2 to Grade 6; they wrote stories, letters, poems, songs, shopping lists and worked on teacher-assigned worksheets in which tasks ranged from single-word or short-answer responses to extended writing.  Review of the findings showed that  many of these immigrant parents and their children found writing at home an interesting activity; it was considered part of their daily lives and a means to support their learning of the English language and enhance their literacy development.  When comparing  children writing at home and at school, the researchers found that they wrote more frequently at home, especially when parents made effort to initiate or encourage literacy practices.  It was found that writing was most frequent in families where parents  established writing routines and wrote as well as their children.  In these families, the  parents were able to motivate and engage their children in family writing regardless of their own oral and written language proficiency, and writing routines seemed to increase the frequency of such activities.  For others, writing was less frequent, occurring as a  more spontaneous and incidental activity.  For certain school-age children in the study,  home writing was confined to completing tasks assigned by teachers or parents.  Some  of the children, all girls, wrote at home upon self-initiation; they wrote daily and in a variety of genres.  These children used writing as a form of entertainment and a way of  expressing their affection, giving what they wrote to family members or friends.  The  findings of the study also suggest that boys seemed less inclined to self-initiate writing, and that the situation could be improved by paying more attention to writing contexts in family writing tasks that would engage boys as well as girls. Exploring the complex relationship between second language writing and identity construction, Maguire and Graves (2001) examined one specific genre, namely journals, of three eight-year-old immigrant Muslim girls writing in English, their third language. In the researchers’ reflections on the participants’ texts, they found that these child writers could negotiate easily between and within the multiple cultural events in different languages both inside and out of school.  An important finding was that these trilingual  children developed the linguistic skills essential for supporting their writing most effectively when they used them in context, and that they appropriated discourses that were available and valued in their particular sociolinguistic and cultural environments, for example, family and school events.  Such development and appropriation helped  44  towards both their expression of self and construction of identity.  Moreover, there was  much intertextuality observed in the children’s writing; ideas from stories they read reappeared in their composition in altered forms. television shows, movies and videos.  There were also references to  From a sociocultural perspective, these children  were able to draw on “their personal experiences to construct their entries, incorporated elements of fantasy from the media around them, but employed different mediational means to meet their goals” (Maguire & Graves, 2001, p. 588).  A desire for establishing  an authorial presence or identity in their writing could also be observed in other studies of second language learners (e.g., Hirvela & Belcher, 2001; Ivanič & Camps, 2001; McKay & Wong, 1996; Norton, 1997).  Regardless of their age group, second language learners  had a similar motive and a need to signify the voice of a sensing person behind the written words, and to develop a sense of self-representation to show who they are and where they are in their social webs of experience. The review of literature on home and school genres points to the fact that there are school-specific genres used primarily for the teaching and learning of literacy skills. Yet children are able to incorporate their personal interests into school-based writing tasks if they are written for a genuine communicative purpose or where they are allowed to make authorial decisions about writing purposes, genre and content.  Sometimes there  is too much emphasis on the practice of graphophonic and syntactic systems of the written language or modeling of pre-existing textual forms of writing.  The goal of  teaching students textual features of specific genres should not be limited to having them produce these forms in writing (Devitt, 2004; Smith & Hiles, 2006).  Rather, students  should be helped to develop an awareness of genre as they are immersed in various types of texts performing different functions.  The goal is to help children develop “a critical  consciousness of both rhetorical purposes and ideological effects of generic forms” (Devitt, 2004, p. 192). 2.4 Linking school and home writing experiences of second language children In general, research has shown that home writing is a rich source for understanding ESL children’s local literacies, their sociocultural ways of representing their culture and community, and the effect of social influences, such as cultural beliefs and rhetorical styles on their literacy learning in school (Gonzalez et al., 1995; Gregory,  45  1997; Gregory, Long, & Volk, 2004; McCarthey & Garcia, 2005). Their writing also reflects the social and cultural nature of their home literacy experiences. Inquiry into the practice of family literacy began as early as 1983 when Denny Taylor developed systematic ways of looking at reading and writing as activities that have consequences in and are affected by family life.  Understanding the forms and  functions of writing within families can inform and improve pedagogical practices for teaching writing in school (Paratore et al., 2005). However, while there is a general understanding that children write for a purpose as reflected in their family writing practices, it has been observed that school writing does not always prepare children for writing in the real world for real purposes (Atwell, 1998; Edelsky & Smith, 1984).  One  reason, as Bissex (1980) suggests, is that real discourse for personal, cultural and social development can hardly be represented within the classroom.  Classroom teachers often  set writing tasks in accordance with curriculum objectives, personal teaching philosophies, beliefs about writing development, and teaching outcomes.  Writing  assignments are typically constrained by instructional purposes as directed by school and board policies, such as students writing to practice skills in paragraph development and coherence.  Since writing topics and prompts are set by teachers, there is often a lack of  a real audience.  Such limitations of school-based writing assignments were observed in  an ethnographic study conducted by Early and Gunderson (1993) aimed at linking home, school and community literacy events in a Vancouver elementary school with a mixed student population of Canadian and immigrant children. The school writing curriculum embodies an invisible pedagogy that overtly supports the child writer’s interests but which is actually centered round the teacher’s own instructional intentions (Bernstein, 1975).  In their study of secondary students  writing in the classroom, Sheeran and Barnes (1992, cited in Millard, 2005) observed that teachers seldom explicitly instructed the students about the rules of writing expected from them.  As a result, many of them were left with little support for developing competence  in the art and skills of writing.  Millard (2005) notes that the situation is particularly  disadvantageous for children whose home experiences oriented them to view learning as an adult regulated activity, giving rise to tensions “between the play-centred orientation of the classroom and the children’s own directed and growing struggle for competence  46  over the different modes of language” (p. 61).  And it is not uncommon to find among  second language learners children who come from a culture that situates learning heavily in the teacher and explicit instruction, such as the home context in the present study. 2.4.1 Developing Writing in the Home Context To compensate for the limited literacy practices in the school context, researchers suggest that literacy instruction needs to draw on children’s out of school literacy practices (Alverman, Xu, & Carpenter, 2003; Duke & Purcell-Gates, 2003; Kenner, 2000).  In the field of second language acquisition, it was found that elementary level  English language learners engage in a variety of writing practices at home and at school, and that their writing practices and attitudes are influenced by home backgrounds and classroom contexts (McCarthey & Garcia, 2005). Research on the influence of cultural, social, and linguistic background on the literacy development of children from low economic status families or culturally diverse communities has been well documented, (e.g., Gonzalez et al., 1995; Heath, 1983; Moll et al., 1992).  These suggest that home  and school literacy practices can be incongruous for children whose home and school environments may differ in the ways and extent to which they promote attitudes and behaviors towards writing.  And research evidence has shown that mismatches in the  nature and uses of literacy between home and school may cause difficulties in children acquiring literacy in early childhood (Barton, 1994; Heath, 1983). In an exploratory case study to investigate the connections that language minority children made between uses of writing at home and at school, Kenner (1997) showed that young L2 writers were able to work with home texts in school, incorporating in their written discourse print artifacts from daily life and knowledge of literacy in their home language.  It was found that connecting children’s everyday literacy experiences at  home and school provided opportunities for multilingual writing which helped children from diverse cultural and social backgrounds develop literacy knowledge.  Kenner  concluded that teachers should provide “a ‘home-school discourse’ open to children’s everyday literacy experiences, and to provide opportunities for multilingual writing, which can help children from different social and cultural backgrounds develop their literacy knowledge to its fullest potential” (p. 85).  47  While parents in many cultural and ethnic groups place great value on the school education of their children (Hudelson, 1989b; Li, 2002), there may be disparity in the orientation to the use and learning of literacy between home and school, such as views towards the concept and role of originality in composing text (Ping, 2000). The classroom often exhibits specific practices, principles and values, and should hence be conceived as a community by itself in the attempt to link home and school practices (Early & Gunderson, 1993).  Based on their observations in ethnographic studies of the  classroom, these researchers call upon teachers to make instructional change in the school. They advocate designing “classroom instructional practices which reach out to the broader community” (p. 106).  The need for exchange of knowledge between family and  school is further supported by findings in studies of literacy practices of bilingual children; they were found capable of drawing on out-of-school literacy learning to facilitate that in formal schooling (Huss, 1995). A research study by Li (2002) on the effect of home environment on Chinese immigrant children’s literacy development found that the presence and use of human and social capital, that is the parents’ educational background and their social relationships with the family, contribute most to a positive home literacy environment.  The  children’s literacy development was also affected by their lives outside the classroom, their home environment, and the availability and use of print at home.  She observed the  parents’ devotion to promoting their children’s success in school and their integration into Canadian society, but lamented over the lack of home and school interconnectedness in some of the cases.  While placing great hope in education to help their children  integrate into the mainstream society, the parents were not interested in initiating any communication with their children’s school.  It was noted that “[w]hether in the two  entrepreneurial families or in the academic families whose parents are more literate in Chinese and English, all parents are distanced from their children’s school life, have little communication with the teachers, and little knowledge of what Canadian schooling is all about” (Li, 2002, p. 155). Thus, though coming from the same ethnic and linguistic background, children may have different literacy experiences, the type and quality of which are affected by their parents’ social capital and educational backgrounds (McCarthey & Garcia, 2005).  48  In another study, Xu (1999) described the home literacy experiences of a group of Chinese ESL kindergarteners and observed how they made functional use of English at home and in the community.  The findings reflect the diverse and cultural nature of the  children’s home literacy experiences: they had access to a wide range of print materials and writing supplies, and observed their parents and other family members’ engagement with the functional use of print across different social contexts.  Another important  element was the family members engaging them in a wide variety of literacy activities both in Chinese and in English.  These findings suggest that children’s literacy  development was the product of social learning from their culture and their interaction with literate others in it.  The amount and quality of writing opportunities of students  have consequences for their writing development, be it in their first or second language (McCarthey, Guo, & Cummins, 2005). 2.4.2 Popular Culture as Linguistic Resources Second language learners’ cultural and language communities could facilitate their studies in school by providing them cultural resources and social processes accessed through contact with media, schools, family and friends (Moll, Saez, & Dworin, 2001). Despite the domination of prescriptive pedagogies in literacy instruction, research evidence shows that children develop their sense of genre by borrowing genre conceptions from books, popular culture and other kinds of media they are exposed to in diverse contexts (Devitt, 2004; Kroll, 1990; Smith & Hiles, 2006).  Children construct  their knowledge of written genres responding to texts found in their social worlds from which they actively appropriate genres for their communicative purposes (Chapman 1995).  In a longitudinal study of children from kindergarten to Grade 4, Kroll (1990)  found that the kindergartener’s stories were borrowed from various sources that included books, television and even basal readers.  Devitt (2004) contends that as children  develop their genre awareness, drawing from print and non-print texts in popular culture, they internalize the functions and features of these texts through speaking, reading, listening, viewing, and, of course, writing. Popular culture is an important source with which children construct and negotiate meaning in their cultural and social worlds.  In both school and home contexts, children,  irrespective of their linguistic backgrounds, can come into contact with various kinds of  49  media in popular culture, for example, books, television, comics, videos, and cartoons in the mainstream language.  Engaging in them can help them learn the practices, concepts,  and values as well as the language of the mainstream community in interesting and enlivening ways.  For instance, comics are a popular mode of entertainment for both  adults and children; they are rich in cultural and linguistic materials, highly visual, authentic, interesting and easy to access.  In terms of language, comics use a consistent  register, and contain limited lexical phrases.  Their textual and visual characteristics  render them particularly appealing to second language children for whom popular culture often provides an intrinsic motivation to reading texts in the target language.  They offer  second language learners access to the pervasive symbols and scripts of social narrative and networks of their peers in school (Duff, 2002a). Children are known to use whatever is at hand in their social and cultural worlds to find pleasure and affiliations in creating meaning and shaping their writing (Dyson, 1997; Kress, 1997).  However, Millard (2005) observes that while popular culture “can  increase children’s motivation to read and produce their own texts with connections with their popular cultural interests” (p. 61), many teachers regard popular culture as competing rather than helping children to develop their literacy.  Texts and artifacts in  popular culture are believed to distract children from book culture offered in school; school policies tend to ban cult objects and current crazes that children can get engaged with so often (Marsh & Millard, 2003). This perspective reflects the restrictions on the language arts curriculum resulting from a tightening educational policy to centrally control national curricula to the detriment of second language learners in the United Kingdom.  This might well be a response by individual teachers; there were other  teachers who worked with popular culture materials very effectively. Family literacy practices have been known to provide valuable funds of knowledge and previous experience with use of written language that classroom teachers can build on to optimize non-mainstream children’s literacy learning (Moll et al., 1992). Innovative approaches to literacy curriculum have pointed to the importance of studying the home literacy events and products that provide the foundation for developing more sophisticated literacy skills (Hammer et al., 2003). If the school curriculum links to home literacies, children are more disposed to transfer their literacy skills and knowledge  50  across different settings (Duke & Purcell-Gates, 2003).  To become literate involves the  socialization of the whole individual; literacy instruction should hence build on students’ cultural and linguistic resources to connect in and out-of-school life 2.5 Multimodality Young children demonstrate attempts at writing long before their parents recognize them as such.  Children’s early writing is multimodal: drawing pictures and  adding text to their drawings in the form of letters or lines to represent writing, or telling adults about what the drawings represent (Clay, 1975; Harste, Woodward, & Burke, 1984).  In studies of early writing development, for example, Dyson (1986, 1988, 1989),  young children were found using both drawing and writing as direct symbols to represent meaning.  As they explored the use of print, they required the combined effect of text,  image, and talk to convey the full meaning of their composition.  They employed the  visual aspects of texts and the interaction of words, oral language and pictures, weaving speech and drawing into their text as they wrote. Gradually, as children developed as writers, their world of text became more dominant than the drawings.  At that stage,  writing often preceded drawings; the focus was on encoding with words, and pictures were used to depict a series of related happenings in a storytelling style.  Even at  primary school level, children generally compose by first making elaborate drawings and writing labels to explain them (Newkirk, 2000). The use of symbolic media figures significantly into young children’s imaginary worlds.  Dyson (1989) conducted a  two-year study involving a group of kindergarteners and first graders.  In creating  stories, children used print, but their imaginary worlds basically evolved through dramatic play, talk and drawing.  It was only over time that children could differentiate  the boundaries between written, drawn and spoken symbols.  By the time children  moved on to Grade 2, they started to negotiate relationships between writing and drawing. The politics of representation in language learning was the focus of Kendrick and McKay’s (2004) work on children’s drawing.  Their study adopted an image-based  method using an innovative way to investigate first and second graders’ perceptions of literacy across the various contexts of their lives.  Their findings highlight the power of  drawing as an alternative mode of representation in language learning.  The second  51  graders came up with a broad array of visual representations situated in a variety of settings and literacy events many of which depicted literacy activities as extensions of the home domains.  An interesting feature was the children’s images of imagined literacies,  portraying themselves beyond here and now as readers and writers of the future, and in different professions, such as teachers and soccer players.  Through the use of images,  the children were able to express complex understandings of literacy.  The fact that such  images of literacy were not found in language arts activities in the classroom was evidence of the dominance of language in school literacy learning, the privileged position that language has over other forms of representation. Similar findings were made by Millard (2001) in her study of a group of children aged 7 to 11 years writing between school written work and home productions for a graphic magazine; the written word dominates communication in the school curricula over all other forms of representation, such as pictures, diagrams, and physical modes like play and drama.  Drawing and other forms of visual literacy, however, are generally  held in low esteem in school, particularly in language education classrooms; teachers in general regard drawing and the graphic element of writing as a transition from images to words, and once children cross that intellectual step, they should leave drawing behind and concentrate on words to represent meaning (Millard & Marsh, 2001).  In schools,  children are often restricted to using only one semiotic mode, language, to represent meaning (Short, 2000, cited by Kendrick & McKay, 2004).  A restrictive view on  children’s use of images and signs in their exploration of print fails to notice the fact that language is only one way of conveying meaning.  A communicative event can involve  different modes used at the same time, and meaning can be conveyed through the simultaneous use of images, speech, and gestures besides print (Kress & Jewitt, 2003). Research on children’s drawings in text also extends to the writing efforts of children in diverse social and cultural contexts.  Maloy and Edwards (1990) conducted a  home-classroom study of kindergarteners and first graders’ writing.  The participants  included both English speaking children and bilingual children of various linguistic backgrounds.  The children were found drawing extensively in their home writing  activities, and telling their stories orally.  Drawing assumed great communicative  significance for a boy with Chinese-English background.  He drew pictures and wrote  52  text encoded in invented spelling to accompany his drawing.  Then he put them into  envelopes, sealed them and asked his parents to send them to their relatives in China. His use of visual signs enabled him to produce stories with detailed and complex plots. Research findings of studies reviewed above provide the basis for challenging the politics of classroom practices that privilege language-dependent modes of representation over others.  Such privileging is detrimental to the writing development of young  children who are just learning to use print to represent themselves and their ideas, and even further to children from second language backgrounds.  The perspective that there  are multiple ways of representing meaning in combination with text has been acknowledged by theorists of literacy learning and adopted to interpret children’s integrated use of print and drawing in their construction of meaning (Kendrick et al., 2005).  The findings also provide further evidence of the value of visuals in helping  children to develop as writers, as they allow them to “represent whole areas of their sensory lives…[and] they infer the moods, sentiments, relationships and interactions that are embedded and diffused across the many literacy contexts of children’s lives” (Kendrick & McKay, 2004, pp. 123-4).  53  Chapter 3 RESEARCH DESIGN, METHODS, AND CONTEXT OF THE STUDY The study adopted a quantitative as well as qualitative, interpretative research design to conduct a case study of four Grade 2 Chinese children learning English as a second language in an elementary school in a mainstream community where English was the dominant language.  It sought to investigate the nature of functions and genres in the  children’s writing produced across two settings, the home and the school.  As a case  study using data collected from naturalistic sources, it was conducted according to fundamental principles related to the ethics and validity of academic research.  While  some of the analyses were qualitative in nature, quantitative measures were also adopted. This chapter outlines the methodological assumptions of the study and describes the setting, the participants, the data collection, and the data analysis procedures.  A  summary chart provides an overall view of the research questions and how they were answered by findings from data collection and data analysis procedures at the end of the chapter. 3.1 Rationale for research design 3.1.1 Definition of the Case Study The case study is one of the five distinct research strategies identified by Yin (1984). The term case study has been defined in various ways.  Looking at case study  as an object of study, Johnson (1992) believes that it is the study of one case, with the researcher focusing “attention on a single entity, usually as it exists in its naturally occurring environment” (p. 75).  In the case of second language acquisition research, the  unit of study is typically a learner, a teacher, a class, a school, a university, a programme or a community as an individual entity (Duff, 2002b; Faltis, 1997; Nunan, 1992). The case study is distinctive in its technical design.  According to Yin (2003),  the technical definition of case study can be divided into two parts. A case study is an empirical inquiry that •  investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life content, especially when  54  •  the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident (p. 13).  The first part of this definition describes this particular logic of design by setting the scope of a case study.  The focus on the importance of contextual conditions  suggests that the choice for the research method should be based on its pertinence to the phenomenon of the study as compared with that of other alternatives instead of on philosophical beliefs about its relative strength or advantage.  The second part of the  definition deals with the more technical aspects of the case study inquiry: it generates a number of variables in the “technically distinctive situation” (Yin, 2003, p. 13), relying on multiple sources of evidence, and using theoretical prepositions developed in the inquiry to guide data collection and analysis.  Hence a case study is an inquiry that  examines an empirical topic by following a range of pre-specified procedures.  In fact,  methodologically a case study can best be described as “a ‘hybrid’ in that it generally utilizes a range of methods for collecting and analyzing data, rather than being restricted to a single procedure” (Nunan, 1992, p. 74). It is a comprehensive research ‘package’ that includes the logic of design, data collection techniques, and particular approaches to data analysis.  The present study adopts this design approach to case study and  incorporates data from various sources to provide a multiple evidence for understanding the phenomenon being investigated. Yin (2003) believes that a case study approach is favoured “when a ‘how’ or ‘why’ question is being asked about a contemporary set of events, over which the investigator has little or no control… because such questions deal with operational links needing to be traced over time, rather than mere frequencies or incidence” (2003, p. 6). In other words, where the research goal is to investigate how a certain phenomenon operates or why it operates in a particular way, the situation calls for the use of case studies.  A consideration of the basis for deciding on the most adequate and appropriate  research strategy may begin with a review of the purposes of research in general.  Four  purposes have been identified to link the objective of a proposed study to the general principles of conducting inquiry.  To justify an empirical study for its significance in  theory development or expansion, or contribution to practice in related fields, the purpose of the study may be either one or perhaps a combination of the following: exploration,  55  explanation, description and prediction (Marshall & Rossman, 1989). These authors suggest that variations of the case study approach can be used for the first three purposes, using different types of data collection techniques that range from participant observation to in-depth interviewing and document analysis.  In case studies, the participants should  be looked upon as individuals, and when they are compared, commonalties and differences emerge (Bissex, 1987).  Case studies researching on selected individuals and  making selective accounts of life are bound to be interpretative.  Such research  procedures are adopted in the present study, an interpretative-positivist inquiry to explore, describe and explain the differences between the school and home writing of children learning to write in English as a second language from a sociocultural perspective. 3.1.2 Case study in Second Language Acquisition Research Yin (2003) and Merriam (1998) stress that the case study is particularly suitable for studying situations in which it is impossible to separate the phenomenon’s variables from their context.  The case study, as one form of qualitative inquiry among others,  such as naturalistic inquiry, participant observation, grounded theory, exploratory research and ethnography, has been prevalent in educational research (Duff, 2002b; Merriam, 1998; Yin, 2003).  Where qualitative research has been found particularly  suitable for applied linguistics research, the case study approach has been widely adopted in the field of second language acquisition which is noted for the diversity in the background of the learners and its social and cultural nature.  Each student is a unique  case with widely different combinations of variables, such as language proficiency in their native and second language, ethnic and socioeconomic background, length of residence in the country, investment in the learning of the target language, and sensitivity to power relations in the learning context.  Nunan (1992) points out that the strength of  the case study lies in its suitability for small-scale research conducted within the bounded system of the classroom or other settings, such as action-oriented research projects conducted by graduate students and practitioners; the primary purpose is to explore and understand issues and problems within the setting itself through detailed study of individual students learning under specific circumstances.  The focus being on the  deriving of insights for improving the learning situation in a single classroom, generalization to other settings becomes a secondary issue.  The intensive and holistic  56  study of a single entity in the context of the bounded system, very often the classroom, the school, the home or the community, can yield rich insights for improving teaching and learning practices. In second language acquisition research, case study methodology has been adopted for studies of the development of linguistic performance in second language learners.  The naturalistic approach allows the intensive and multi-faceted study of an  individual’s use of language, spontaneous speech or writing, either at a certain point in time or at particular intervals over a period of time in real-life settings or the classroom. The studies are typified by a focus on the process, the naturalistic use of the language and aimed at the description of the language acquisition of a few subjects rather than generalization to the wider population to which they belong (Larsen-Freeman & Long, 1991).  Interpretative case studies have contributed to expanding theories about the  literacy development of second language learners.  For example, adopting a case study  approach, Jones (1985) focused on the use of monitoring by second language writers in composing written texts. A major criticism of second language research is that researchers are often distanced from the immediate concerns of teachers and learners (Brown & Rogers, 2002), a situation that results from excessive focus on verifying understandings of theories, models and practices.  A remedy to the problem is to situate research more directly on  issues of central concern and relevance to teachers and their students.  As defined by  Creswell (1998) a case study is characterized by employing multiple sources to explore a subject of interest bounded by time and space, with the context of the case situated within its physical, social, historical or economic setting. by their context.  Case studies and findings are bound  Analysis of data and findings should be contained within the  parameters of the selected individuals and this limits the theoretical generalization from particular studies to other contexts and circumstances.  However, it is believed that this  method of educational research, while confined to a specific case with its unique context and background, can produce findings that are generalizable to theoretical propositions though not to populations or universes (Yin, 2003).  57  3.1.3 The Issue of Quantification in Case Study Research The quantitative-qualitative distinction in research methodology is often seen as a dichotomy between two opposing paradigms with their own philosophical base, ontology and related methodologies.  A more current perspective encourages a mixed-paradigm  approach (Miles & Huberman, 1994, cited in Duff, 2003).  While quantitative research  has traditionally been given higher status in research in social sciences and education, a combination of both approaches, although not very common, can be viewed as complementary rather than distinctively incompatible (Duff, 2002b).  The case study,  normally associated with qualitative research, may often adopt a more positivist approach than an interpretative one by employing strategies and statistical analyses that embody the central assumptions of quantitative research (Yin, 1984, 2003).  It is not uncommon  for qualitative case studies to incorporate quantitative statistical analysis as a major component of the research study (Duff, 2003; Merriam, 1998; Yin, 1984).  The  approach to data collection and analysis is closely related to the nature of the research question and the type of data collected.  In discussing the role of quantification in  qualitative research, Lazaraton (1995) recognizes that obtaining data from multiple sources using multiple collection techniques is not uncommon in applied linguistics. Watson-Gegeo (1988) stresses that qualitative research methods may “involve quantification in the form of frequency counts, tests of significance, or multivariate analyses of patterns and themes” (pp. 584-585). Hence the case study, though like ethnography, is often conceived as qualitative research in studies of language and literacy learning, may well incorporate quantitative analysis and statistical techniques.  Yin (2003) believes that case studies can use any  combination of qualitative and quantitative data obtained from multiple sources and are not limited to direct, detailed observation of the natural context.  Chaudron (1988) notes  that most researchers adopting qualitative techniques resort to analyses that involve the quantification of events: “the frequency, magnitude or proportion of occurrences of analytical units observed” (p. 15).  In adopting a dualistic approach, the present study  employed both quantitative and qualitative analysis of the various types of data collected. Statistical analysis of numerical data was used to provide measurements as evidence for making objective comparisons.  On the other hand, descriptive or interpretative findings  58  were arrived at through qualitative analysis of other types of data to provide information on the process and products of the children’s enactment of functions and use of genres. 3.2 Participants The participants in the study were the four focal children and their mothers. children participated in the study with the consent of their parents. an attached letter were sent home to the children’s parents.  The  A consent form and  The letter provided  information on the nature, objectives, duration and procedures of the study, and involvement of the participants in it. Since the researcher benefits from the study, the participants in their turn should receive certain benefits for their involvement in the study. The gain by the participants would take the form of information made available to the parents on the children’s development as writers in home/school based writing activities. In naturalistic research, sampling should be purposeful and selective rather than random and representative (Guba & Lincoln, 1994). The focal children were selected based on their linguistic, ethnic and sociocultural background.  The English language writing  abilities of the four participating children encompassed various developmental levels as graded by their teacher. The four students, two boys and two girls, aged seven to eight, were selected from the same class and had similar linguistic and ethnic backgrounds. children born and raised in Canada. Mainland China or Hong Kong. at home.  All were ESL  Their parents were working class immigrants from  Their first language was Cantonese which was spoken  They learned English when they started school; it was their language for  learning and communicating with friends at school and siblings at home. sometimes used for written communication in both school and home.  It was also  According to  Bhatia and Ritchie (1999), it is important to consider in the study of children speaking two languages the amount and types of input and use of each of the two languages. These children were raised in Cantonese-speaking homes where they learned to follow directions, answer questions, speak and interact with family members and members of the ethnic community in their parents’ native language.  However, they were exposed all the  while to English in school, and even at home through television and popular culture, shopping trips and outings into the English-speaking community.  59  The children worked with two teachers in the class.  One of them taught the class  full-time before she started co-teaching with another teacher at the beginning of the second school term.  The help of the first teacher was enlisted for rating the focal  children with regard to their writing abilities in English.  She rated two of the children,  Katie and William, (all the children’s names were pseudonyms) as average and the other two, Elaine and John, as above average.  The rating was based on the children’s class  performance in the writing programme as reflected in their writing samples, and also their individual scores in the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) (Beaver, 2001) conducted at the beginning of the school year. Katie was considered by the teacher as a quiet and steady worker. obedient and showed interest in learning in general.  She was  Rated as average in writing, she  worked on written assignments following the teacher’s instructions closely, just meeting the basic requirements but not ready to invest more time and efforts.  It is possible that  showing more enthusiasm on her part could have rendered her writing more reflective of her feelings and ideas. In the eyes of the teacher, William was a student with considerable capabilities but just not making sufficient effort.  More interested in playing and talking with his  friends in the classroom than sitting down to write, he was inclined to complete his written assignments by just doing the bare minimum. more elaborate work.  However, he showed potential for  He liked reading comics and playing computer games; these were  popular topics in classroom and playground talk and games that he engaged in with his friends. Elaine was rated the best Chinese ESL female student in the class in terms of writing ability by the teacher.  She was capable, bright and resourceful.  A friendly and  outspoken personality, she was very social among her friends, moving around a lot in the classroom even in on-task time.  Her work portrayed her lively and adventurous  character, showing confidence and interest in all matters about her.  In her writing, she  reached far and wide for ideas which were more based on reflections of daily experiences than imagination. Smiling meekly most of the time, John was a quiet and ardent writer according to his teacher.  He produced long pieces of writing, much greater in length and complexity  60  in structure than what the teacher required. rated high above that of his classmates.  Elaborate and creative, his written work was  In fact, his teacher regarded his writing as  comparable to that of his native English speaking peers despite his second language background. 3.3 School context The study was based in an elementary school in an urban area in British Columbia, Canada.  The four focal children were a subset of the participants (Grade 2) involved in  a major longitudinal study, the Young Children’s Informational Literacy (YCIL) Project conducted in four elementary schools located in the same municipality1.  It has been  found that in many primary classrooms, the vast majority of texts engaged in by the children are narratives; this could hinder their success in school when they move to the higher grades and need to read more non-narrative genres (Duke, 2000; Pappas, 1993). On the other hand, Chapman (2002) observed that children engaged in a variety of curriculum genres, including informational writing, in a longitudinal study of students from kindergarten to Grade 3.  In the YCIL project, teachers were provided with funds  to buy children’s information books. These are books whose primary function is to provide information about the social and natural world, and are sometimes referred to as factual, non-narrative, or expository texts.  The teachers were asked to use these books  during whole-class and small group reading activities. them independently.  Children were allowed to read  The teachers were also encouraged to incorporate informational  writing in their instructional programmes. The public elementary school that these children attended enrolled approximately 300 children from kindergarten through Grade 7 from the local neighborhood. The school had both single classrooms and open area spaces occupied by three or four classes. The focal children were in a Grade 2 class with 22 students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, mostly Asian.  The children’s classroom was in one  of the open areas, yet it was relatively quiet because the space was large and designed for single class instruction, small group work, and multi-class meetings. desks that were grouped together in sets of six.  The children sat at  As noted earlier, two teachers, who  1  Chapman, M. L., Filipenko, M., McTavish, M., & Shapiro, J. (2007). First graders’ preferences for narrative and/or information books and perceptions of other boys’ and girls’ book preferences. Canadian Journal of Education, 30, 531-553.  61  spoke English only, shared the teaching load.  The teachers in general adopted a “whole  language” approach to the teaching of language in the class.  Reading and writing  instruction were based on a sociolinguistic view of language and language learning (Goodman, Smith, Meredith, & Goodman, 1987). School writing experiences consisted of responses to their reading, personal writing in journals, and also completing worksheets exercises designed by the teachers.  School reading was, as discussed  previously, centered round informational texts. 3.4 Home and community contexts Though coming from the same cultural and linguistic background, the focal children’s families were slightly different in socioeconomic status.  The parents also  varied in their length of residence in Canada, ranging from 15 to 27 years.  The home  environments of three of the children were quite similar; they lived in houses in a quiet neighbourhood near the school, with ample living space for each family member. John’s family, however, lived in a rented basement, and he had to share a bedroom with his elder sister. The parents’ educational levels ranged from elementary school to university. William’s mother had a university degree.  She was employed, and used both English  and Chinese in her daily work and home life.  She was fluent in both spoken and written  English.  The fathers of the four children had all completed high school in their home  country.  They were all literate in Chinese and English.  John’s father worked part-time,  while the fathers of the other three focal children had full-time regular jobs.  John’s  father could speak a little French, the family having lived in Quebec for five years before moving to Vancouver.  Both Elaine and John’s mothers had finished high school but  Katie’s mother had only completed elementary school.  The mothers of the focal  children were all literate in their native language and spoke Cantonese for daily communication.  Katie’s mother worked from home and used English occasionally in  her work.  As for Elaine and John, their mothers were housewives and knew very little  English.  All of the working parents used writing, either in English or in Chinese, related  to their occupations. There were similarities in the home literacy activities across the families. Chinese was used for social and cultural purposes.  There were a lot of print materials,  62  such as newspapers, books, TV guides, and magazines. or in Chinese in the household.  These were available in English  The parents mostly used Chinese for pleasure reading.  Writing in Chinese, however, was not that frequent.  They used to write letters in  Chinese to communicate with their relatives and friends in their home country or elsewhere.  But with the advent of technology, they have all switched to using long  distance telephone calls.  The multiple use of literacy for everyday needs, such as  writing out checks, filling in forms, and writing to organizations or government authorities was almost entirely conducted in English.  The children watched television  mostly in English, but the parents regulated the amount and type of viewing.  The  children also read comics and popular culture texts in English, though the parents wanted them to read more “serious” materials, or books with “more educational value”, such as information books or school related texts on science and technology. Essentially, the children’s home literacy experiences varied with the parents’ social capital and educational backgrounds.  There were children’s reading materials in  all the four families, the amount varying with the socioeconomic status of the parents. However, it seemed that the parents were not aware of the fact that the key element was not the quantity of the reading materials but rather the kinds of materials they were and whether they were highly accessible to the parents and the children (Harste et al., 1984). The cognitive level of the content and the language of the books were also at stake. Katie’s bookshelf in her bedroom had rows of hard cover versions of English literary classics.  There was also a volume of thick, fully illustrated English information books  on different science topics, but these had barely been read.  William’s parents also  bought their children very expensive collections of English books. They read them to their children occasionally but found the text too difficult for them.  Elaine had many  storybooks and fiction chapter books in English that her mother collected, and she read them often.  There were also some Chinese children’s books brought over from China  that her mother read to her and her younger sister. Unlike the other children, John did not have expensive book collections in the house.  He had some story books and comic  books that his mother let him buy from the school book sales.  These were his treasures  that he read over and over again.  63  There were some English literacy opportunities out in the community for all four children.  Their mothers took them on regular visits to the public library to read books  and check out materials to bring home.  They also went to book exhibitions and  sometimes bought books from book sales at school.  The parents all treasured such  opportunities for literacy experiences; they believed that reading out of school would help their children improve their English literacy skills and extend their knowledge of the world.  It was interesting to note that all the mothers engaged in a type of home tutoring  by setting writing tasks in English for the children to do at home, even though most of them lacked fluency in their own written English. write at home was to practice writing in English.  The purpose of making their children Sometimes the writing activities also  served a social purpose, such as designing and writing a birthday card to send to a cousin. Responses from the children ranged from a reluctant compliance with such demands to engaging actively in self-initiated writing for the love of it.  As requested by the  researcher, the parents avoided setting any English language writing tasks for the children during the sampling period.  This procedure was adopted in order to ensure consistency  across the four focal children in terms of support or coercion from their parents.  Upon  this request, the parents reported that they sometimes reminded the children to write, but did not prescribe any particular writing purposes or text types for them.  The writing  samples collected from the home context were all produced on a self-initiated basis, planned and completed by the children themselves. The children exhibited individual differences in their interest in and disposition for literacy activities at home.  Katie was the older of two daughters in the family.  Her  younger sister, a preschooler, tagged after her and followed her example in activities related to reading and writing. younger sister at home.  Katie acted as a role model in this respect for her  Their mother placed great value on literacy, and was eager to  help her daughters read and write better in English.  She believed that a good way of  achieving this was to amass a large amount of English reading materials for the children. She asked Katie to read to her and her younger sister whenever she had free time to sit down with them.  Katie was also asked to write at home, but her mother was not clear  about how to provide appropriate support or guidance.  64  William was the eldest of three sons in the family.  His younger brothers looked  up to him for leadership and ideas for play and other kinds of activities. much confidence and initiative at home with his siblings. from home, were very busy during the day.  television and playing computer games.  The parents, working away  Most of the child caring work was done by  their grandmother who did not speak English. own to entertain themselves after school.  He showed  The children were very much left on their  They spent most of the time watching On weekends or when off work, their mother  would read to the children or ask the children to read or write by themselves. to his mother, William was a reluctant reader and writer. playing.  According  He showed more interest in  But his mother wanted him to ‘take the lead’ among the boys.  She believed  that his modeling would instill an interest in his younger brothers to read and write.  She  filed all of William’s writing done at home or brought home from school and showed it with pride to visitors. Elaine, like Katie, had a younger sister. that her mother baby sat for Elaine’s aunt.  There was also a baby girl in the family  Because her mother was very busy with  housework and babysitting, Elaine was often left on her own to entertain herself and her younger sister.  She read moderately, mostly in English, but her mother also wanted her  to read the Chinese books brought over from China. them not as interesting as the books in English. own initiative.  She obediently complied but found  Elaine liked to write and did it on her  She wrote on a wide variety of topics, with ideas and content taken from  her reading materials and daily experiences. John was the most willing writer of all the four children. attending Grade 4 in the same school.  He had an elder sister  Without as much access to computer games and  other artifacts of popular culture as his peers enjoyed, John and his sister took writing as a hobby and a pastime for entertainment. They enjoyed doing it, and wrote profusely on a wide variety of topics that interested them, without any coercion from their mother. Writing for them was making sense of their lived experiences and channeling creations in their imagined worlds.  Their mother pasted their writing done over the years on the  walls of the small living room to serve as reminders and models of how to write.  She  was very proud of her children’s work and efforts.  65  The parents all strongly emphasized their children’s schooling.  Like most  Chinese immigrant parents, they had high hopes for their children’s success in school and beyond.  In addition, the parents had implicit trust in and expectations for the teachers to  structure and discipline their children’s learning.  This was based on their traditional  belief in and respect for the authority of schools and teachers.  And like many  immigrants regardless of their ethnic origin, the parents wanted to preserve their native language in the family so as to foster cultural and ethnic ties with their home country. All except John’s parents sent their children to heritage language schools to learn the Chinese language.  John did not take Chinese language classes for economic reasons,  but his mother, who came from Mainland China, taught him how to write simple Chinese characters at home.  The writing opportunities in the Chinese language school did not  offer much opportunity for creative writing, however.  Probably because the children  had relatively limited knowledge of Chinese, most of the practice consisted of repetitive exercises or imitational writing based on models given. Despite their heritage language training, the children’s writing activities were basically all in English.  They did not write in Chinese in school or at home.  The only  text they produced in Chinese was the homework from the Chinese language school.  As  mentioned previously, this writing was confined to practice of Chinese characters, completion of worksheets, and making sentences with given words. creative writing at all.  There was no  Thus, their home writing was entirely in English as in the school  context. 3.5 Data collection Naturalistic data sources were used for the research, and data were collected from March through May, 2005.  The particular time period was chosen because it was in the  middle of the second term of the school year, a time when the children and the teacher became very familiar with each other and the class routines were well established. Moreover, the sampling period could end before June when the teacher would be very busy with assessment and reporting to be completed by the end of the school year. There were different sources of data which included writing samples, interviews, and field observations of the classroom and the family household of the individual focal children.  66  3.5.1 Writing Samples To investigate the children’s writing in school and at home, their written products produced during the sampling period in the two settings were collected as the major component of the data.  For the school-based writing, a weekly visit was paid by the  researcher to the class to collect samples of the focal children’s writing during the sampling period.  All of the writing texts the children produced during the week were  photocopied by the researcher for the research study. writing from the four children were collected.  A total of 67 pieces of school  The school writing consisted of written  work done as class or home assignments scheduled in the teacher’s weekly plan, texts produced in the day-to-day learning activities in the classroom.  These included writing  done in class under the teacher’s instruction and supervision, and also written assignments completed at home, such as journal writing.  A photocopy of the teacher’s  weekly plan was also made to provide details and background information for the various writing activities. To collect samples of home-based writing, the researcher made a home visit to each of the four families at the beginning of the sampling period to meet the parents and explain details of the research study and answer any questions they might have.  With  the exception of John’s family, only the mother was available for meeting with the researcher, the father of the family being out of the house at work.  The children were  given a box folder each with several pockets to store their writing.  They were also  given a box of colour pencils that they could use for their writing or for any other purposes.  This and the folder that provided easy storage and filing of written products  were intended to make writing an enjoyable and natural part of the children’s family activities. Fifty-four pieces of home writing were collected from the four children during the sampling period.  No specific instructions had been given as to the amount or frequency  of writing to be done at home. wanted.  Children were asked to write as much or as little as they  The home writing collected included self-initiated pieces, such as texts they  normally wrote for fun, for expressing themselves, or at the request or demand of the family.  As part of the research, the children were asked to sort their home writing into  different types according to their content and purpose.  Then they had to file them in  67  separate pockets of the box folder.  They were also requested to assign a genre name to  each set of the writing samples based on their own knowledge of genres.  They were  asked to bring in their folder to school on the day of the researcher’s weekly visit to their class.  During the visit, the children showed her the writing they had done at home over  the week.  The writing samples were marked with stickers to indicate that they had been  examined by the researcher and to show appreciation of their efforts. 3.5.2 Interviews In order to learn about the home and school contexts, there were interviews of the children and their mother at the beginning and the end of the sampling period. interview was conducted during the first home visit. shown in Appendix A. then the focal child.  The first  The questions for the interview are  In this interview, the researcher first talked with the mother and  The mother was asked questions about her family and educational  background, the structure of the family, and home activities related to reading and writing, the language(s) they used at home and at work, and their social and cultural purposes for using print at home and in the community in Chinese and in English.  As for the  children, they were asked to talk about their activities at home, how they spent their leisure time, the kinds of reading and writing they did at home, the kinds of popular media they liked, and the literacy activities they participated in the community.  These  interviews were conducted with a view to building up general profiles of the families and their practices related to the use of language at home and at work. Towards the end of the sampling period, the researcher conducted a second round of interviews with the participants in their home (questions shown in Appendix B).  Two  separate interviews were conducted with two of the family members, one with the mother and the other with the focal child.  The interview with the mother focused on the  parents’ attitudes and expectations for their child’s school education.  The parent’s  views about the child’s writing ability in the two languages were also sought. The interview with the children focused on their writing activities at home, their purposes for writing, the kinds of writing they enjoyed doing most, and how they looked upon themselves as writers.  The interviews yielded information on the family and the  children’s occupation with writing at home and in the community, and this provided a  68  background for understanding the orientations of the children in relation to using writing for communication. Interviews were also conducted with each child on specific home-based writing samples to collect information about the writing context and the purpose for writing (Appendix C).  One writing sample was selected from each of the various genres that  the child had produced.  Questions were asked about what the child liked about the  piece of writing, the reason for choice of topic/theme and genre, where he/she got the idea for the writing, how the ideas were organized, and what motivated him/her to write the piece. 3.5.3 Observations Three field observations were made in the child’s home as part of the data collection process.  The first observation was conducted at the beginning of the  sampling period on the same occasion as the mother and the focal child were first interviewed.  This observation aimed at understanding the family’s living environment,  the relationships among the focal child and various members of the family, and the general availability of print in the household.  The researcher made observations of the  types and amounts of reading materials available in the home for adults and for the children, such as the different kinds of books and print media lying around in the living room.  It also focused on the games and computer games the child often played, and the  popular culture he/she engaged in.  The second field observation was conducted during  a visit to the family in the middle of the sampling period.  The objective was to observe  the child’s writing activities at home, the parent’s participation in them, and the frequency and amount of writing produced before and during the sampling period. ways of storing and displaying their written products were also observed. was made at the end of the sampling period.  The  The third one  Close observations were made of the  child’s reading materials at home, and the collection of books in Chinese and in English provided for their leisure and academic reading. the parent’s participation were also observed.  The child’s engagement with them and  Field notes were taken of the various  observations made. With regard to their school setting, field observations were made of the school premises and the classroom.  Informal conversations with the regular teacher were  69  conducted to collect her views on the developmental level and performance in relation to writing at the beginning of the sampling period. During the sampling period itself, there were weekly observations in the classroom of the focal children and brief conversations with them as they engaged in teacher-assigned writing activities.  Observations were  made on their engagement with the writing tasks and their motivation and attitude in writing in class. 3.6 Data analysis The data collected were analyzed for different purposes.  The major goal was to  detect categories in terms of writing functions and written genres in the children’s texts in order to provide a comprehensive description and interpretation of their writing behaviours and uses for written communication across the school and home settings. The data from the interviews and observations were analyzed qualitatively to interpret and generate background information about the focal children’s learning and writing environment.  On the other hand, the home and school writing samples of the focal  children’s were analyzed quantitatively to identify genres and functions and compared using descriptive statistics.  Then, the various findings from the data were interpreted to  generate profiles of the individual cases in their use of functions and genres and to draw conclusions and implications from the study. 3.6.1 Interviews and Observations The interviews with the mother and the focal children and the home observations were interpreted qualitatively to draw a profile of the family environment of each of the focal children.  The interview data collected from each of the focal children about their  selected writing samples were also interpreted qualitatively to describe the writing behaviours and writing purposes in relation to a particular genre.  These qualitative  analyses were then used to establish profiles of the individual focal children in collaboration with the quantitative findings from other kinds of data. The informal conversations with the classroom teacher and the class observations provided an assessment of the developmental level of the focal children, their aptitude and interest towards learning to write in class.  Such qualitative information was used in  collaboration with data from the interviews and home observations to portray the social, cultural and linguistic milieu in which the children learned to write in English in school  70  and at home, a backdrop against which to interpret and compare the texts produced in the two settings. 3.6.2 Writing Samples The writing samples were analyzed from both functional and formal perspectives. The analysis process started with dividing the writing samples into two groups in accordance with the setting, school or home, in which they were written.  Then within  each group, the writing samples were analyzed first for the functions for which they were written with reference to a categorization scheme drawn up for the study.  Where the  text was accompanied by drawing or graphics, analysis was also made of the visuals to support the coding of writing functions.  After the functional analysis, the writing  samples were categorized according to genre, with reference to the personal and social purpose(s) of the writing act, and the textual features of the text. The set of writing samples from the school setting were photocopies; those produced at home were originals.  Both sets of home-based and school-based writing  samples were written in legible handwriting with conventional English spelling. However, there were occasional misspellings and grammatical mistakes in some of the samples.  For easy reference, the scripts were all typed to form transcripts in Word  documents.  The visuals accompanying the writing samples ranged from simple line  drawings to coloured pictures, picture series, and pictures with speech bubbles to represent dialogues.  Unfortunately, the drawings from the school texts were available  only in black and white. Functional analysis The functional analysis started with identifying and coding the function and categories of functions of each piece of writing.  Identification of the specific functions  was based on an inference of the personal and social goals for producing the text, the writer’s individual motivations and intentions underlying the specific act of writing. These could be aligned in nature with the micro-purposes of writing described by Clark and Ivanič (1997) that were generated by the immediate ‘context of situation’ following Halliday’s (1978) description. A major step in the functional analysis was to develop a classification scheme for the coding the functions of the writing samples.  After an examination of the texts  71  produced in the two settings, an initial list of functions was set up based on the various functions identified in them.  The list was an adaptation of Chapman’s (1995) list of  writing functions derived from Halliday’s (1973) work on the functions of language. Then the texts were coded for their writing functions with reference to the classification scheme.  The functions in the present school writing samples were all covered in  Chapman’s (1995) scheme.  However, one extra function had to be added to cover the  home writing samples. It has been noted that writing functions could not be identified in isolation as a discrete entity (Barton & Hamilton, 2000; Clark & Ivanič, 1997). text had to be taken into consideration to provide cross-validation.  Other features of the In coding the  samples for writing functions, certain formal indicators were used for inferring the functions embedded in the text. This involved an examination of the topic, the content, the lexico-grammatical items like nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs, and drawings that accompanied the text.  For example, the use of the pronoun ‘you’ indicated an  interacting function, while the use of the present tense and verbs like ‘wish’ and ‘hope’ suggested that the writer was anticipating future actions.  Syntactic patterns and  formulaic expressions were also examined to throw light on the writing functions of a text, such as ‘once upon a time’ indicated imagining. As mentioned previously, many of the writing samples written at school and at home were accompanied by drawings or other kinds of visuals, such as pictures of events or objects with labels created by the children themselves.  With a few exceptions, the  drawings were made either during or after the writing, as reported by the participants in the interviews.  An examination of the drawings showed that they were not just used for  illustration, in the general sense of the word. They served more specific purposes, such as constructing or enriching meaning in various kinds of social context as depicted by the text as a whole.  The drawings were therefore used to supplement or support the coding  of functions for the text they accompanied. A multimodal perspective was adopted in viewing children’s writing in this study. An underlying assumption of this theoretical approach is that both drawing and words are representational means by which children produce and communicate meaning.  A  theoretical underpinning of the approach is the equal treatment of all communicative  72  modes, as meanings are made, distributed, communicated and interpreted through many representational and communicative modes, not just language (Kress & Jewitt, 2003). Vygotsky (1978) argues that “make believe play, drawing, and writing can be viewed as different moments in an essentially unified process of development of written language” (p. 116).  According to Vygotsky, drawing is essential to young children’s conceptual  development, an internal representation of narratives spoken through images. For the most part, more than one function could be coded for each piece of writing.  It should be noted that for each type of function, for example, referring to  experience, the function was coded only once no matter how many times references were made to experience in the text. The coding of the writing samples for functions involved judgment which was based on inference rather than objective measurement. This could be problematic in terms of reliability.  In order to establish inter-rater  reliability, a primary school ESL teacher who had research experience in second language writing was invited to participate in the coding process.  He was first trained on a  selection of twenty writing samples, ten from school-based writing and another ten from home-produced texts.  The collection included samples from all of the focal children  and all the writing genres identified in the corpus. Using the same selection criteria based on the definition of the various identified functions, the two sets of writing samples were coded for their writing functions independently by the two raters. for the texts was compared to look for discrepancy. produced an inter-rater reliability of 86 percent.  Then the coding  The two independent ratings  The major discrepancy arose from the  less obvious functions embedded in some of the home writing which could only be identified when taking the social context in which they were written into consideration. Discrepancy was then resolved by negotiation resulting in the two raters agreeing to the function(s) assigned to a particular piece of writing. After the functional coding of the two sets of writing samples was completed, the data were analyzed with simple descriptive statistics involving frequencies, means, percentages, and ranking.  The functional analysis was divided into two phases.  For  the first phase of the analysis, frequency counts were made of all the functions coded in each set of writing samples, and the mean and percentage of the functions calculated for each setting.  These figures were compared and contrasted to show the differences in the  73  children’s enactment of functions in terms of frequency in school and at home. the functions specific to each setting were identified.  Next,  The functions common to both  settings and those unique to either the home or the school context were compared and contrasted with regard to their variety and frequency.  The specific functions were next  divided into different categories for further analysis.  According to Britton et al. (1975),  when writing is used as a social action, people accomplish different purposes with meaning created from written language which is used to embody a wide range of personal, social and political functions.  The purposes range from expressing, transacting  information, recreation, to literary creation (Britton et al., 1975; McGinley & Kamberelis, 1993; Paratore et al., 2005).  Based on this theoretical perspective, the various specific  functions were divided into four categories: personal, social, recreational and learning functions.  The distribution of the individual functions within these categories was  explored and compared across the two settings.  Examples of the children’s work were  presented to illustrate how the specific functions were enacted by the individual children in school and home settings to answer Research Question 1. The second phase of the functional analysis took place after the texts had been coded for genre.  The focus was on the relationships between functions and genres.  First of all, the frequency of functions within specific genres was compared across the two writing contexts.  The frequency of functions enacted by the individual children in  specific genres in the school and the home writing was computed.  Then the figures  were compared to show the variation in the enactment of functions between the two settings in the same genres, namely, story and journal.  Secondly, the relationship  between different categories of functions, for example, social functions, and specific genres or genre groups, such as interactions, was examined.  The distribution of various  categories of functions within genres was compared across the settings.  This would  show how certain categories of functions were more prevalent than others in particular genres, and how a particular function category was more frequent in one genre than in another within the same setting or across settings.  The findings about the relationship  between categories of functions and specific genres would work towards answering Research Question 3.  74 Genre analysis The analysis of genres involved a multi-step, recursive process.  A classification  scheme was adapted from Chapman’s (1995) study of written genres in first grade for coding the writing samples for genre and classifying them into genre groups.  Certain  modifications in the grouping of genres were necessary in order to accommodate the data collected in the present study.  Once the new classification scheme had been set up, the  writing samples were coded for genre.  While many of the writing samples were coded  with multiple functions, only one genre was assigned to each piece of writing.  In this  study, genres were conceptualized as discourse-level text types used as cultural resources drawn for particular purposes in response to recurring social situations.  Given that the  genre of a text is reflective of its content, form, context and the intention for which it is composed (Chapman, 1999), these interrelated dimensions were taken into consideration in coding the genre of a text.  As with the coding of functions, two raters were involved  in the coding process of the genres. used for the training purpose.  A collection of twenty-four writing samples was  This included writing samples from all four of the focal  children in the school and the home setting; it also encompassed the various genres as initially coded by the children or according to the teacher as indicated in the weekly teaching plan.  The two independent ratings produced a high inter-rater reliability of 94  percent, a result expected because of the transparency of the writing pieces. After the initial coding for genre, each piece of writing was examined again in light of the genre that it was classified as, which was assigned by the writer or suggested by the source from which it was taken.  For school-based writing, the genre of each  piece could be identified in one of the following ways: the title shown on the writing piece; the subject title of the exercise book from which the piece of writing was taken, for example, ‘Story’ or ‘Journal’; or the genre specified for the writing task in the teacher’s weekly teaching plan.  Being teacher-assigned writing tasks and completed under the  teacher’s instruction, all the school writing pieces followed the conventional style and format of the genre they were supposed to be and this made coding them relatively easy. With regard to the home writing samples, a genre had been assigned to each piece of writing by the writers themselves.  As part of the instructions for the data collection  process, the focal children were requested to sort their writing pieces into different types  75  and assign a name to each type for filing into the box folder given.  An examination of  the content of the writing samples sorted into various genres showed that the participating children had considerable genre awareness and explicit genre knowledge.  With the  exception of two sets of texts, the writing samples had been appropriately assigned a genre, with the use of conventional genre names, such as story, journal, diary, note, and greeting card.  One set of texts had been described by the writer as My favourite things,  a name he gave to a series of descriptive non-fiction writing about his favourite month, season, etc.  The second set was a piece of informational writing accompanied by  labeled drawings that the writer called Non-fiction writing.  Indicative of the focal  children’s purposes of writing, the genre assigned by the writer or suggested by the source merited consideration and was thus incorporated into the coding of the specific sample. The next step was classifying the coded writing samples into four genre groups in accordance with the established classification scheme.  First, there were the  chronologies – genres that were time-related and included actions or events that were chronologically sequenced.  The second general category was descriptions in which the  writer described an object or situation, identifying or commenting on the object referent. Interactions formed the third group of genres.  In these, written language was used as an  object to be given by the writer to a reader or a specific audience.  They could relate to  either actions/events or objects, that is, they could be chronologies or descriptions or a combination of both.  The fourth and last group of genres was word plays.  Words  were manipulated to fulfill certain aesthetic purposes; the writer played with language as an object incorporating elements, such as rhythm or rhyming.  Like interactions, they  could be chronological or descriptive. After the writing samples were coded for genre and classified into genre groups, descriptive statistical analyses were made of the data using frequencies, percentages, and ranking.  Frequency counts and percentages were calculated for the specific genres  identified in each writing context and comparisons made across the settings.  The  frequency counts and percentages of genre groups were also calculated to examine their distribution in each set of writing samples.  The figures from the two sets of writing  76  samples were then compared to show differences in the range and variety of genres between school-based writing and home-based writing in answer to Research Question 2. The final stage of the data analyses was a qualitative study of the individual focal children, to document the unique ways in which writing functions and written genres were enacted and coordinated within the writing practices of these second language children.  The objective was to present interpretative profiles of the four case study  children, and together with the findings about the relationship between categories of functions and specific genres, the results were used to answer Research Question 3. Descriptions and interpretations were drawn from the various findings to highlight the ways in which these children used writing to understand, negotiate, and transform their experiences in the context of school and home.  The children’s awareness of the  life-informing and life-transforming potential of writing (McGinley & Kamberelis, 1993), and their knowledge of functions and genres as resources for personal expression, social communication, and political construction of identity were examined.  Writing samples  and excerpts were used to illustrate the ways they engaged in school instructed and self-selected writing.  An exploration of how these second language children wrote  about themselves, their communities, and their culture would offer some insights to educators for developing writing curricula that would be more rewarding, meaningful and culturally relevant to learners of diverse backgrounds. 3.6.3 Summary of Data Analyses Procedures The above data analyses are summarized in Table 1 which provides an overall view of the research questions and how they were answered by collecting different kinds of data and how they were analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively to answer them.  77  (for all 3 research questions) Writing samples collected from school and from home  1. What are the differences between the functions of the focal children’s English writing at school and in their home?  3. How do the children construct meaning with the use of written language writing in school and at home?  Quantitative analysis of written genres: coding of genres in writing samples; range of genres compared across settings; categorization of genres and their frequency compared across settings  Quantitative analysis of writing functions: coding of functions in writing samples; frequency of functions compared across settings; categorization of functions and their frequency compared across settings Quantitative and qualitative analysis of functions common and specific to the school and the home setting  Data analysis  Quantitative analysis of relationships between functions and specific genres: frequency of functions within specific genres compared across settings Field observations of children Quantitative analysis of relationships between categories of functions in classroom writing activities and specific genres or genre groups; comparison made of relationships within and across settings Conversations with teacher on Qualitative analysis of observations of the children writing in class the focal children’s general Qualitative analysis of observations of the children’s reading and performance and writing writing practices at home and information from interviews with parents ability in school Qualitative analysis of contextual information on the home writing samples collected from interviews with the focal children Qualitative analysis of the writing samples to identify characteristics in their use of written language to construct meaning and their genre knowledge  Field observations of school premises and classroom  2. What are the differences in the range of genres in the Field observations of home children’s school and environment and writing home writing in English? practices  Interviews of focal children and their parents at beginning and end of sampling period  Data collection  Research questions  Table 1: Summary chart of research questions, data collection and data analysis  78  Chapter 4 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION (1): FUNCTIONS OF WRITING IN SCHOOL AND AT HOME Written language is a semiotic tool that functions in various ways in society. Growing up as social participants, children learn about this tool with regard to its purposes, features and processing demands as they encounter it in daily activities and in the company of more skilful literate adults (Dyson, 1988, 1997).  An underlying  assumption of the present study is that the learning of written language is developmental and sociocultural; literacy is interwoven with the social fabrics of children’s everyday lives, their home, the community as well as the institutionalized academic setting of the school. To study how the children’s teacher-assigned texts produced in school compared with the self-initiated ones that they wrote at home, the school writing samples and home writing samples were analyzed for their functions and then genres.  The objective was to  document how the children used written language to make sense of their experiences, and to affirm or transform their relationships with others.  Then the data were compared and  contrasted for similarities and differences between the two settings. As stated in Chapter 3, the data were analyzed descriptively to compare frequencies, means, and percentages.  This chapter focuses on the functions and their  distribution between school-based writing and home-based writing.  First of all, the  functions identified in the two sets of writing samples are presented and explained. Secondly, the mean of the functions enacted in each setting are compared.  Thirdly, the  specific functions common to both settings and those unique to a particular setting are presented and discussed with respect to their characteristics.  Fourthly, the specific  functions are categorized into four groups according to their nature, personal, social, recreational and learning, in order to examine the distribution of the different types of functions in the children’s writing in the two settings.  These procedures constituted the  first phase of the functional analysis.  79  4.1 Overview: Functions in the children’s school writing and home writing A total of thirteen different writing functions were identified in the two sets of data, 67 writing samples in the school setting, and 54 samples in the home.  A list of the  functions with their definitions is given in Table 2. Table 2: Functions of the children’s writing produced in school and at home Function  Definition  1. Imagining-fiction To create an imaginary situation which could be true but is not, with true-to-life or real characters 2. ImaginingTo create an imaginary world where there is no limit to fantasy actions, wishes or thoughts, characters and events were not real and could not be real 3. Expressing To express opinions, attitudes and emotions 4. Referring to To record or report past and present experience, experience incidents, sequence of events, and to comment or reflect on them 5. Informing To provide facts, information or evidence, to describe a process 6. Anticipating To anticipate future events or predict what might happen 7. Practicing To follow writing instructions or to practice general or specific writing skills 8. Interacting To establish or maintain social relationships, to participate in or respond to social or cultural events 9. Representing oral To use written words to represent speech; direct speech, language and direct quotations in a text 10. Representing To represent print seen in their familiar worlds, or written language literary texts, including familiar songs and poems 11. Reasoning To explain, to reflect on events or situations, to justify judgments, to reflect on events, to draw conclusions 12. Ego enhancing To illustrate competence and independence, to impress or display knowledge 13. Enjoying To write for fun and to entertain oneself or others  4.2 Frequencies of functions in school writing and home writing As a group, the children produced more writing in the school setting than in the home, 67 versus 54. home than in school.  But individually, the two high ability children wrote more in the Elaine wrote 19 pieces at home as opposed to 15 in school.  John, it was 20 pieces at home and 18 in school.  For  It was the other way round for the  80  average ability children.  Katie wrote 18 pieces in school but only 10 at home;  William’s production at home was very small when compared with his school-based writing, 5 versus 16.  Despite this individual variation in the amount of production  between the two settings, the home writing samples carried more functions than those in school in general. A single piece of writing often embodied more than one particular function. Some of the writing functions were found in both sets of writing samples. unique to either the school setting or the home setting.  Others were  Within each group, some  functions were enacted by all the four focal children in varying degrees while others were found in the work of only two or three of the children. A comparison of the frequencies of the various writing functions in the two settings shows that the children evoked more functions when writing at home than in school.  The figures are presented in Table 3.  Within the thirteen writing functions  identified, a total of 145 instances were coded for the 67 pieces of school-based writing. This resulted in a mean of 2.16 functions in the setting.  As for the writing produced at  home, a total of 157 functions were coded for the 54 writing samples, meaning an average of 2.91 functions per piece of writing.  A simple comparison of the figures  indicates that on average the children enacted 34.72 percent more functions when writing at home than when they did at school. Table 3: Mean of functions in school writing and home writing No. of writing pieces  Differences in percentage in the number of writing samples  No. of Mean. of Differences in functions functions percentage coded per text in the average number of functions  School: 67  school > home by 24.07%  145  2.16  school < home by 25.77%  Home: 54  home < school by 19.4%  157  2.91  home > school by 34.72%  While the number of school writing samples exceeded that of home writing by 24.07 percent, the mean of functions found in the former was smaller than that in the  81  latter by 25.77 percent.  This was an interesting finding in view of the fact that the  home-based writing samples were not only fewer in number but that the texts were also generally shorter than the school-based ones.  The finding suggests that although the  children wrote in greater quantity and produced longer texts in school, they did not necessarily evoke more functions in a piece of text than when they wrote at home.  On  the other hand, they enacted more functions on average in their self-initiated home-based writing.  The differences were noteworthy in spite of the relatively small number of  texts produced by the children in the two settings. 4.3 Distribution of specific functions across school writing and home writing As mentioned earlier, thirteen different writing functions were identified in the two sets of writing samples.  A total of nine functions were found in the school context  and eleven in the home context, with certain overlapping of the functions between the two settings. data.  Figure 1 shows the distribution of the specific functions in the two sets of  Among the thirteen functions, seven of them were commonly found in both  settings.  Two other functions were specific to school writing, and four others were  found unique to home writing. 4.3.1 Functions Found in Both School Writing and Home Writing The seven functions common to both the school and the home writing, as Figure 1 illustrates, were expressing, informing, reasoning, referring to experience, representing oral language, imagining-fantasy, and anticipating.  Among these functions, five of  them were enacted by all four focal children in both the school and the home setting, namely, expressing, informing, reasoning, referring to experience, and representing oral language.  The first four functions were usually evoked for personal expression and  social communication. settings.  They were found in high frequency in various genres in both  These functions shared one characteristic in nature: they were all associated  with daily life experiences and activities.  As the children grew up, they learned about  the use of writing as a social tool that functioned in various ways in daily life.  They  explored and played with its functions and features, and used it as a means of self expression with literacy “woven into the familiar fabric of everyday life” (Dyson, 1988, p. 220).  The children’s writing purposes guided their writing events and the resulting  content and form of the written products.  The purposes were in turn motivated by the  82  Figure 1: Distribution of specific functions across school writing and home writing  SCHOOL HOME § Interacting Enjoying [3] Ego enhancing [2] Representing written lang. [2]  §* Expressing §* Informing §* Reasoning §* Referring to experience §* Representing oral language * Imagining-fantasy [2] * Anticipating [3]  * Practicing * Imagining-fiction  Notes: §  Functions found in all focal children’s home writing  *  Functions found in all focal children’s school writing  []  The number of focal children enacting the particular function in home writing  facts and events they experienced or observed, and the ideas, opinions, and feelings generated from them.  In writing, they made sense of their personal and social worlds by  referring to their experience, expressing their feelings about them, reasoning to justify their opinions, and informing the reader with knowledge or ideas they wanted to display or share. Representing oral language was also a salient writing function in both settings. The oral language has always been used as a cueing system to generate or supplement text as young children learn to write.  Talk surrounds their early writing; it is used to  83  invest drawings, labels, and texts with meaning, “providing both meaning (Representational function) and the means (Directive function) for getting that meaning on paper” (Dyson, 1983, p. 22). substance of written language.  In the world of young children’s writing, talk is the Hence, it was not surprising that representing oral  language featured commonly in both school and home writing.  Although the children  were in Grade 2, their writing still bore some of the characteristic features of young children’s writing for making meaning, such as labeling, visuals, and the use of oral language. form.  Many of their writing pieces contained oral language represented in written  This could be a monologue in phrase or sentence form; a conversation with  several exchanges; words, phrases or sentences in speech balloons embedded in pictures. Through the use of direct speech embedded in text, the child writer depicted what had really exchanged between himself or herself and others, or what he or she was speaking or spoken to. The direct speech, whether put within quotation marks or speech bubbles, or presented in the form of written dialogues, allowed the writer to portray the exchanges in the first person rather than reporting the event as an observer.  It was also reminiscent  of young children’s writing attempts where talk and drawing generated and provided a context for producing text.  Moreover, writing in reported speech might also make  heavier demands on the written language competence of these second language children. Where the first four writing functions were enacted to represent daily life events, the fifth one, representing oral language, was evoked to add vividness and authenticity to the writing. The other two functions that were common to the two settings, imagining-fantasy and anticipating, were enacted by all the focal children in their school writing but only by some of them in their home writing.  Imagining-fantasy was found in the home writing  of two of the focal children, and anticipating in that of three of them, as seen in Figure 1. The function of imagining-fantasy was closely associated with imaginary stories in which the children created characters and events that were not true to life and could never exist. Creating such stories seemed to be a recurrent and mandatory writing task in the school writing programme.  The children all wrote imaginary stories and other text types that  involved fantasy creations.  However, with the exception of John, the more able boy  based on the first teacher’s rating, the children did not do any imaginary story writing,  84  fiction or fantasy, at home while they all did that in school.  As for anticipating, the  function was closely associated with writing about daily events, wishes, and predictions of what might happen projected from present situations or personal aspirations. children enacted this function in their school writing.  All four  It was found in the home writing  of only three of the children, Elaine, John, and William.  Katie seemed more concerned  with her past experiences and did not anticipate future events in her home writing at all. 4.3.2 Functions Unique to School Writing As shown in Figure 1, two functions were specific to the school setting, namely, imagining-fiction and practicing. school writing.  Both of them were found in all of the children’s  Practicing was the more salient one, and was enacted consistently by all  the focal children with more or less equal frequency in many of their school texts.  It  was the primary function in writing tasks set up for a definite instructional purpose, to practice writing in general and specific writing skills, such as the use of comma and connectives, paragraph development, and story grammar.  The goal was to learn how the  written language works; to list known elements, such as words, phrases, and grammatical and discoursal features; and to produce texts or elements of text in the classroom.  In  most cases, the practicing function was explicitly embodied in writing tasks identified as lists.  These were worksheet type exercises that included instruction and explanations  about their learning objectives and procedure.  In other genres, the function was  camouflaged under more stimulating writing tasks like story writing to practice specific lexico-grammatical features, such as the use of temporal connectives.  It should be noted  that unlike other writing functions, practicing was often evoked from the outside, built into the writing task by the teacher. Imagining-fiction was found in lists written by all of the children, and stories produced by John and Katie.  The latter were narratives of imaginary situations with  true-to-life or real characters.  As their titles were all different, they seemed to be  free-choice writing produced in addition to the stories written to prompts set by the teacher.  Interestingly, for some reasons, story writing in school focused on fantasies  rather than fiction.  Imagining-fiction was found in association with practicing, for  example, in the writing of an imaginary situation to practice the use of the second conditional ‘if’.  One specialty about these two functions unique to school writing was  85  the uniformity with which they were enacted; they were found across the board in the same writing task performed by all the four children.  Such streamlining could only be  achieved by having the functions written into the teaching objectives and learning outcomes of the writing tasks. 4.3.3 Functions Unique to Home Writing There was a wider range of functions specific to the children’s home writing than in the case of school writing.  Four of the functions identified in the home setting were  not found in any school-based texts.  They were interacting, enjoying, ego enhancing,  and representing written language.  There was individual variation in the enactment of  these functions among the focal children though. four children writing at home.  Interacting was enacted by all of the  The other three functions were dispersed variably among  the individual children, as shown in Figure 1. The function of interacting was prevalent in the home writing samples.  In the  home setting, the children wrote in a variety of genres, such as greeting cards, notes and diaries to participate in or respond to social or cultural events.  In the process of writing,  the factors that call for interacting with others are based on an intention to send a message to a general audience or a specific reader for a particular purpose.  These then give rise  to a series of decision making processes involving the selection of content and formal features of the written product.  Such decisions have to be made in light of the function  the text aims to fulfill in relation to the cultural and social context in which it is written. These factors, it seems, are more readily available in a social discourse, such as the home and the community rather than the learning context of the classroom.  It should be noted  that the function of interacting was not found in any of the school-based writing samples. The writing situation in the classroom might not call for a real intended audience.  It  was often the teacher who was the final reader of the text and who judged and responded to it.  The children seemed to be aware of the artificiality of the school writing tasks.  At home, when writing for a real purpose rather than to display learning, they wielded their linguistic resources and genre knowledge to construct genuine messages.  They  wrote about things of personal concern and to people who would be really interested in what they said and respond emotionally and/or physically to them, as the individual profiles of the focal children presented in Chapter 6 will illustrate.  86  When writing at home, the children used written language not only as a vehicle for communicating messages and expressing feelings but also as a source of fun. Enjoying was one of the many writing functions for these children.  Crafting a written  product with the use of verbal and visual symbols became a recreational activity. Writing was used for self-entertainment as well as the enjoyment of others.  When Katie,  the average ability girl, was asked why she wrote a greeting card to her younger sister, she explained, “Because I always write stuff for her, she likes it…Because it is more beautiful and good…I like it that way.” Ego enhancing was another function specific to home writing.  The child writers  wanted to demonstrate their competence and independence, to impress others, or to announce their successes through a piece of writing.  It was often enacted in association  with other functions, such as informing and referring to experience.  The content  embodying these functions provided a basis upon which the writer could highlight his or her achievement for ego enhancement.  The underlying intention was to establish an  identity, or to transform it in his/ her own view or that of others.  Developmental  literature points out that children aged 5 to 7 are particularly sensitive to an awareness of self and others which has been gradually taking shape since the preschool years (Gardner, 1982, cited in Dyson, 1988). The focal children were in this age group.  Having  somewhat gained control of the semiotic tool of written language, they proceeded with the creation of self and others, formulating an “I” in relation to “you” and “we”.  They  developed a sense of themselves as participants of the various communities in their social lives assuming both agency and subjectivity, defining their individual uniqueness as they examined themselves in relation to their peers.  They used writing to explore the identity  that they might assume, and in the course of this, promoted their ego to develop a sense of personal history. The fourth function specific to the children’s home writing was representing written language.  This function was to represent in print the literary texts that the  children saw in their familiar worlds or created by themselves like songs or verse. this study, such texts were all in the form of poems.  In  With the familiar songs, rhymes  and poems that they came across in school or home learning, they reworked the words to create a written artefact.  In some cases, they were original productions in which they  87  manipulated the elements of rhythm, rhyme and alliteration appropriated from familiar songs and poems, feeding them with new content for literary expression.  The function  of representing written language could be associated with enjoying and ego enhancing. The children wrote literary texts not only for emotional expression but also to illustrate their competence and creativity in playing with language, having fun and entertaining themselves and others with written language. 4.3.4 Discussion of Findings of the Distribution of Specific Functions A major finding about the children’s writing functions in school and at home was that they differed in three dimensions; diversity was found in the variety, nature, and enactment of the writing functions between the two settings.  First of all, there was a  slightly wider range of functions in home writing than in school writing, eleven as opposed to nine (Figure 1).  The children evoked a greater variety of functions across  the board when writing at home than in school.  There were also more functions specific  to the home setting than the school setting, four in the former versus two in the latter. Secondly, the nature of the functions unique to the two settings was also different. The home-specific functions were interacting, enjoying, ego enhancing, and representing written language.  As mentioned above, interacting was the basic social function of  written language; it was a means of communicating with others and dissemination of information and ideas.  Enjoying and ego enhancing were charged with emotional and  personal fulfillment while representing written language embodied literary expression to create written works of art. These functions were geared towards the personal, social, and recreational purposes for writing; they could be aligned with the authentic use of language in the wider community as what adults in the literate society do with written language.  The school-specific functions were imagining-fiction and practicing.  The  former is a very common writing function in language arts programmes in both western and non-western school systems.  It was somewhat surprising that the children did not  have fiction writing at all in their self-initiated writing.  Rather than creating imaginary  fictional or fantasy content for entertainment, these second language children chose to write for more personal or social reasons, on issues grounded in the sociocultural context of their day to day lives as second language speakers and children of immigrant parents. Practicing was a prevalent function in certain genres in school writing.  In combination  88  with the functions of expressing, referring to experience, and informing that provided the writing content, practicing highlighted the use of writing for academic learning, particularly learning to write in the classroom.  Writing as such was to display  knowledge where the written product was an evidence of understanding and learning. The children wrote to show the teacher what they knew and what they thought.  It was  not communication in the real sense of the word but rather a specialized type of writing that exists only in educational institutions for monitoring and assessing students’ learning and progress (Dyson, 1988). Thirdly, the enactment of functions was more uniform in the school setting than in the home setting.  The school writing tasks were often ‘centrally’ controlled by the  teacher and the instructional objectives.  These in turn prescribed the genre and content  as well as the writing purposes and functions of a task.  For many of these class  assignments, the topic and the genre were the same for all the children, and so were the writing functions embodied in the content which tended to be very similar among the children.  Such pedagogical practice could also explain the difference in the range of  functions between the two settings.  When the children wrote to achieve a  predetermined set of learning outcomes for a writing exercise, the range of functions would naturally be more limited and exclusive.  This might be a necessary measure to  secure learning outcomes and to ensure that all the students in the class learned and practiced the same skills.  In the case of home writing, not only was there a wider range  of functions but there was also more individual variation among the children in the enactment of specific functions.  When writing on a self-initiated basis, the children had  more personal space; they could exercise more personal preference based on their own intentions that motivated the writing act.  Such writing was done for a multitude of  genuine purposes; in school it could be repetitious and contrived to fit in with teaching objectives. The children’s creation of self and others was bound up with writing in school as part of their personal and literacy development that school education was intended for. The process involved their socialization into the knowledge and skills necessary to participate in the adult world, a gradual transformation of their childhood knowledge and practices through participation in peer group settings, such as the classroom, the home,  89  and the wider community.  The issue at stake seemed to be the link between learning to  write in school and the children’s use of the written language for making sense of their world and constructing meaning in real life situations.  There was certainly an  institutional need for children to write in class to meet the goals of school education.  To  ensure that their academic and social lives might intertwine, students should be given the opportunity to write not just to construct textual meaning in their mental worlds but also to construct themselves in relation to others in their social worlds.  Schools are  committed to helping children become literate, but it is important to “present that literacy within activities and imbue it with values that may make it work in more or less productive ways within the child collective” (Dyson, 1988, p. 221). A fundamental use of written language is to establish or maintain social relationships (Clark & Ivanič, 1997).  As children developed fluency and control over  the various semiotic tools, such as words, drawings, and numbers, these became a dominant driving force in their behaviours (Vygotsky, 1978).  They were able to express  themselves in delightful and unique ways and became increasingly effective communicators with others.  They could then participate actively and intuitively in their  social worlds and explore their mental worlds prodding through their webs of experience (Dyson, 1988). attempts.  Interacting with others using written symbols was a basic step in such  As discussed in Chapter 2, written language allows time to shape thoughts  and more opportunity to contemplate and control ideas than speaking does.  This is  particularly important for developing writers, such as the second language children in the present study.  Writing has the advantage of allowing less than proficient language users  time and opportunity for strategic moves to ponder upon formal accuracy and pragmatic appropriateness.  Speaking, on the other hand, normally requires spontaneous decision  and response at the very instance of utterance. 4.4 Categories of functions To understand how writing functions were related to the children’s writing purposes, the thirteen writing functions identified in the corpus were divided into different categories according to the role they played in representing ideational and interpersonal meaning.  Table 4 shows the categorization of the various functions into  90  four groups: personal, social, recreational, and learning.  It also shows the average  frequency of the specific functions among the writing samples in the two settings. These descriptive statistics offer understandings about the coverage of the functions and the distribution of the individual functions within the various categories in the two settings.  There was much diversity in these aspects between them, as the  following discussion shows.  Not only was the mean of the individual functions  different from one setting to the other, but they were also variably distributed among the different categories in the school and the home writing context. 4.4.1 Personal Functions The personal functions were expressing, referring to experience, reasoning, enjoying, and ego enhancing.  The first three, expressing, referring to experience, and  reasoning were concerned with the construction and organization of ideational meaning. The writer presented the content, topic and ideas, with reference to his/her experiences, then expressed emotions, opinions or attitudes about these experiences, and reasoned to explain them or draw conclusions.  Expressing and reasoning assumed a higher  percentage in the home than in the school setting.  In Table 4, it can be seen that  expressing made up 19.11 percent of the 157 functions identified in the 54 home writing samples.  The same function assumed 17.93 percent of the 145 functions found in the 67  school-based texts.  For reasoning, the figures were 14.01 percent for the home setting  versus 9.65 percent for the school.  On the other hand, there was a higher proportion of  referring to experience in the school than in the home context, 14.49 percent as opposed to 11.46 percent. This suggests that the child writers were more inclined to express their opinions and reasoned about them in their self-initiated writing than in the teacher-assigned writing tasks in which they focused more on reporting factual daily life experiences. Other than remembering and savoring personal experience, people also write to provide personal enjoyment and entertainment, to celebrate possible selves and role models (McGinley & Kamberelis, 1993).  As seen in Table 4, the functions of enjoying  and ego enhancing were found only in the home setting; they made up 8.28 percent and 7.01 percent respectively of the total number of functions in the home-based texts.  The  absence of these two functions in the school-based texts points to the dominance of  91  Table 4: Distribution of specific functions in different categories in school writing and home writing Functions  School (n=67) N  %  26  Referring to experience  Home (n=54) N  %  17.93  30  19.11  21  14.49  18  11.46  Reasoning  14  9.65  22  14.01  Enjoying  -  -  13  8.28  Ego enhancing Social: Informing  -  -  11  7.01  27  18.62  16  10.19  Anticipating  11  7.59  8  5.10  -  -  13  8.28  Representing oral language Recreational: Imaginingfantasy  11  7.59  15  9.55  14  9.65  5  3.19  Imaginingfiction  7  4.83  -  -  Representing written lang. Learning: Practicing Total  -  -  14.48  6  3.82  7.01  14 145  9.65  9.65 100.00  157  -  100.00  Personal: Expressing  Interacting  Sub total  42.07  33.8  Sub total  59.87  33.12  learning goals in the school setting where literacy growth was generally accorded more importance than personal interest or desire.  In school or even at home, children perform  learning tasks as instructed by those who have power over them, such as teachers or  92  parents.  Chinese parents sometimes impose writing tasks on the children to make them  practice their writing skills in the English language.  As immigrants, they often face a  dilemma in adopting a course for the academic and social development of their children. On the one hand, they accept and follow the dominant values, beliefs and practices of the mainstream community for economic and social reasons while at the same time they yearn for an emotional affiliation with their native language and culture especially for their second generation.  However, their children’s academic success in school is of  paramount importance.  And with or without being aware of it, the parents ally with  educationalists that design or implement the writing curriculum in fostering the learning aspect of writing activities, and paying less attention to children’s enjoyment and interest. When writing is imposed by someone in authority as in the classroom, it may not always align with the social or cultural interests of the students, especially in the case of second language learners.  Clark and Ivanič (1997) believe that imposed writing serves the  macro-purposes of people in power rather than the writer’s micro-purposes for writing generated by the immediate ‘context of situation’ (Halliday, 1985); the act is unconsciously contributing to the perpetuation of the values and practices of the dominant discourse that they might not identity with.  The researchers regret that many  students regard writing in academic settings as a chore because “[v]ery few write with enjoyment or with the sense of writing for their own purposes, to explore their own ideas” (p. 124). 4.4.2 Social Functions The social writing functions identified in the corpus were informing, anticipating, interacting, and representing oral language.  Informing is a basic function that  motivates many acts of writing in daily life; people write to provide or convey information, evidence, or facts for particular reasons.  It was the most frequent function  in the school setting, assuming 18.62 percent of the total number of functions in the school writing samples, as seen in Table 4.  The finding suggests that a large proportion  of the writing tasks in school were aimed at imparting information to a particular audience or displaying one’s knowledge or understanding about a certain topic.  The  situation was not surprising in view of the fact that the class from which the focal children were selected participated in a major longitudinal research project investigating  93  the informational writing of elementary school children.  It was only natural that the  writing tasks assigned should be more geared towards the practice of this particular writing function.  The effect had in fact spilled over to the home setting in which  informing assumed a proportion of 10.19 percent, the highest in the social function category for the setting.  For both settings, the children had achieved sophistication in  incorporating this function with others in their writing. Anticipating was a way by which the children envisioned possible events, objectified their wishes and emotions to share with others with the use of written language.  The function was more prominent in the school setting (7.59 percent) than it  was in the home setting (5.1 percent), as seen in Table 4.  The smaller proportion of this  function in the home-based writing might be attributed to the fact that social functions in the home setting included interactions which were non-existent in the school setting. Being junior members of the family and the community, they were conscious of their subjectivity in terms of power relations.  Born and brought up in the Chinese culture  where authority is closely associated with seniority of age, they were aware of the limited freedom they were allowed to air their opinions and plan their social and sometimes even personal activities and future events.  However, they could express their wishes and  desires in their writing, especially when writing on their own with no authority to answer to, on a platform where they could freely voice their thoughts and build up an envisaged identity for themselves. The following writing sample is one of the five descriptions of favourite things that John wrote at home (Figure 2).  It shows how the child writer expressed his  personal feelings and desires through writing, and how he embedded the topical content in the exploration of his relationships and social ties with people around him in the family or the community. The piece was a description of child writer’s favourite month and related activities. It embodied the personal functions of expressing and reasoning, and the social functions of anticipating and informing.  John’s comments on the intentions of writing the piece  were: “I wanted to tell…It’s my birthday, so I wrote it.  Because I could tell my birthday,  and could tell which month I like, a different month, another month.” He was not really sure which month was his favourite month, March or July.  But he was full of the desire  94  (Transcript) My favorite month My favorite month is March because it is my birthday. It pass now so now my favorite month is July because it is my mom’s birthday and it is summer that time! Then I will buy my mom sometime. Maybe I will not have time because I will play with my friends. I wish I can asked my dad if he can buy something for my mom’s birthday. I like to buy something. She do lots of work for me. She make my lunch and dinner. Figure 2: John’s description of his favourite month to let people know about his love for those months and the reasons behind it, his plans for activities in them, and his ability to tell the months that he liked.  It was a safe spot  within which he had full control of the resources and channels to express his desires on a personal basis.  The focus was on the presentation of personal opinions, with a voice of  his own, to assert a position of himself in relation to others.  His ideas were further  conveyed by a picture of coloured line drawings in the bottom half of the page. left was a tall brown building that was labeled “Shop”.  On the  Right next to it was a boy  holding what looked like a banknote in his hand and had a speech bubble from his mouth saying “cool”.  The boy was probably a representation of the writer himself, going to the  shop to buy a birthday present for his mum.  There was a car on the right side of the  picture driven by a man who might well be his father driving him to the shop.  The  scene was not described in the text itself; it was but a situation that the child writer aspired to and hoped would materialize.  He had artfully and implicitly recreated his  anticipation with the use of images that complemented his verbal descriptions, providing the reader an access to his mental world. The piece contrasted with the school-based texts on anticipating and informing  95  where the goal was more focused on imparting academic information.  This can be  illustrated by one of William’s school journals (Figure 3).  (Transcript) Plant journal entry #2 Today I planted my seed. First I used my index finger to poke three small holes in the soil. Then, we cover the holes with more soil. Finally, we water our seeds. |3 wonders:|I wonder how many days the plant come up. I wonder when do I take the plant home. I wonder if my seed will die.  Figure 3: William’s plant journal The journal was given a title, ‘Plant Journal Entry #2’, which rarely appeared in any other writing samples, school or home. institutionalized sense to the piece of writing.  This lends an academic and It should also be noted that the text was  accompanied by a labeled drawing of a flower pot with three seeds sown in the soil. The drawing was detailed and the labeling elaborate, showing the intensity of the child writer’s effort given to the piece.  The sentences that described the process of planting  the seed began with different temporal connectives: ‘Firstly’, ‘Next’, ‘Then’, and ‘Finally’.  The text ended with three “I wonder’s” to solidify the writer’s anticipations  for the growth and life span of the plant. bit awkwardly included.  This gave a personal touch to the text though a  It was one of the few pieces of school writing that incorporated  the voice of the writer despite being somewhat forced.  Like some of the home-based  96  writing, this piece presented a sense of self for personal expression and social affiliating, projecting a voice by which the writer established an authorial identity and an image of himself or herself behind the words (Belcher & Hirvela, 2001). The use of the connectives to show the steps of the planting process and the list of wonders were probably tied to the practicing function of the writing task.  Similar  lexico-grammatical features were found in John’s school journal written to the same title. William was dutiful enough to add within straight brackets a heading for the list of wonders in the text.  The functions of the piece were multiple: informing, anticipating,  expressing, and practicing.  Each of them was achieved appropriately and precisely in  accordance with the teacher’s instructional goal.  A comparison of the two texts, both  written with more or less the same functions, illustrates how the writing acts in school were more focused on academic learning and practice.  The underlying purposes of two  pieces of writing could be different though the functions embodied in them were the same. As stated earlier, interacting was a function unique to the home writing context assuming 8.28 percent of the total number of functions in the home setting (Table 4). The frequency was relatively low when compared with several of the personal functions in either setting.  Nevertheless, as a social function, it provided a channel by which the  child writers ventured off their narrow personal lives and reached out to the wider world. Representing oral language signified an interactive element in a piece of writing.  It was  spoken language recorded in direct speech to show the exact words with which individuals communicated in the text. The significance of this function lay in the child writers’ awareness of the use of the mediated speaking component to add weight to the text and to give it a sense of reality and vividness.  A major purpose of writing was,  after all, to portray social life in action, and such portrayal was more frequent in the home setting than in the school; the percentage of this function was 9.55 in the former as opposed to 7.59 in the latter. 4.4.3 Recreational Functions The writing functions to achieve recreational purposes identified in the writing samples were imagining-fantasy, imagining-fiction, and representing written language (Table 4).  The rationale for such categorization was that when these functions were  97  involved, writing was generally done for the purpose of providing entertainment. Imaginative pieces were written to create fictional situations to explore the possibility of true to life actions, or fantasies to extend the possibility of surreal ones to indefinite limits. The children wrote imaginary writing, both fantasy and fiction, in the school context. The percentages of imagining-fantasy and imagining-fiction were 9.65 and 4.83 respectively.  In the home, there was no imaginary fictional writing, and the percentage  of fantasy writing was a meagre 3.19, a few instances identified in a poem written by Katie and four stories written by John. The fact that there was so little fantasy writing in the home setting could be explained by two possible reasons.  Firstly, these young writers seemed not mature  enough to write fantasy stories when working on their own.  They might not have  adequate instruction or practice with crafting fantasy narratives including an orientation, a crisis, and a resolution in the conventions of story grammar.  When told to write  fantasy stories in class, they just fed fictional or real life content into a surreal mould. They carried it as far as their imaginations allowed them, but were not able to tie up all the loose ends. to be.  Their stories were extensive but not as impressive as they were expected  It seems that the children would be more comfortable and efficient writing about  their personal and social lives, actions and people that they came in contact with daily. Their writing purposes for free writing in school and self-initiated writing at home were more related to their lived experiences and reflections on everyday life events and activities.  Secondly, being non-mainstream children, they might not identify with such  imaginary writing in their stage of literacy development.  Children use writing as a  means to make sense of their social worlds (McGinley & Kamberelis, 1991).  The social  world of these children was made up of their family, school, friends, extended family, cultural community, and the wider community.  Story as a form of language arts is a  common literary genre in Chinese culture just as in western societies, and Chinese language children’s literature is full of fantasy fairy tales for moral education and enjoyment.  However, to read and enjoy them is one matter, and to produce them in  writing is another.  The writers’ views of writing, of the functions and purposes of  writing, and of themselves as writers may be affected by the culture they were affiliated with or born into (Hudelson, 1988).  The children might perceive that writing fantasy  98  stories belonged to a much higher echelon and too distanced from their daily experiences. They might feel alienated or disinterested when asked to produce writing they did not socially or culturally align with.  Their home and community context did not provide  much cultural allegiance to the discourse of fantasies or motivate them to write such on their own either.  They preferred writing with content and genre that were more in line  with their home values, meanings and practices in the use of written language. However, this does not mean that these children were not imaginative at all when writing at home.  The two girls took to writing poems that were highly creative and  embodied the function of representing written language. home context assumed a percentage of 3.82 (Table 4).  This function specific to the But again, even in literary  creation, the children based their theme and development on real life experiences. Figure 4 is a poem written by Elaine about the parts of her body.  The ideational content  was all derived from the immediate environment of her everyday life, another evidence of how children created meaning out of the social context in which the text was based (Barton & Hamilton, 2000). The poem was striking in its use of comparisons, a theme running throughout the whole verse.  There was no rhyming at all in the lines, but the child writer’s comment  on the piece of work was “it sounds like a poem.” As for the purpose of writing it, she  (Transcript) Poem My elbow is like a rock. My body is straight as a log. My eye-ball fast as a car. My hair is crunchy as a grape. My skin as smooth as a blanket.  Figure 4: Elaine’s poem about parts of the body  99  was not really sure, but said, “It’s about your body…because a body has these things.” A second grader was definitely clear about the names of parts of the body, but one could not help admiring how the child writer drew comparisons between them and the different kinds of objects.  The line of association was somewhat out of the ordinary and yet so  amusing and fitting.  The similarity was not based only on appearance and shape, but  also on speed, texture, and touch.  The writing sample illustrates how children produced  writing with themes originating from their individual selves, parts of the body in this instance, and incorporating elements from their social and cultural contexts, things of nature and man-made artifacts, as they explored the relationship between themselves and the external world. The coloured pictures of the parts of the body and the objects they were compared to were just as significant.  They were all drawn in detail and coloured elaborately to  appear as life-like as possible.  Putting the picture neatly in boxes and juxtaposing a  body part with the object it was compared to was an act of textual function (Halliday, 1978).  The writer used both visuals and language to help show her individual  perspective on reality - how parts of the body were similar to different objects. Moreover, by doing so she posited her personal and authorial identity in various aspects: the fitness and beauty of her body parts; her perception of similarities between things; her unique mode of communication; and her capability of integrating text and images to represent meaning. 4.4.4 Learning Functions There was only one writing function associated with learning in the corpus, namely, practicing.  As seen in Table 4, this function was found only in the school  setting; it made up 9.65 percent of the functions identified in the 67 school writing samples.  Its relative frequency was not high, but the function was overwhelmingly the  major intent of writing in lists and some of the journals.  In the following list written by  Katie (Figure 5), the child wrote a series of statements in accordance with the prompts given by the teacher.  It was a writing activity that formed part of a class project on  social issues in the community.  100  (Transcript) List Some wonderful things about my community are: • The school because we can learn and play • Friendly friends play together • I like cars because they drive me everywhere Some ways to make my community even better are: • More food to eat and clean grass • Less bugs because they are all over • No crying because it hurts my ear Figure 5: Katie’s list of wonderful things about her community In this second grade classroom, the main social purpose for writing was to learn to write, for children to develop their understandings of written language and how it worked. The framework was a kind of scaffolding to help them generate ideational meaning.  By  providing a focus on a particular topic and a framework, this worksheet type exercise served to raise the students’ awareness of social issues alongside practicing writing descriptions with attribute series.  A dual instructional purpose was being aimed at:  eliciting personal responses to a specific topic, and practicing a related set of vocabulary and lexico-grammatical features.  As apprentices, the children were requested to present  their ideas in separate statements, sentences or phrases, a preliminary step in preparation for writing coherent expository essays. Transcript 1 shows a fiction story also written by Katie.  It was a follow-up  activity of the list in Figure 5 to explore further the topic of social issues in the community.  This time the genre was a chronological narrative which could be  experiential or fictional.  The value of guidance and instruction provided by the teacher  in class could be observed by comparing this story with the list in Figure 5.  Katie’s list  of wonderful things about her community and ways to make her community even better 101  were very much centred around herself and her immediate worlds, her school, friends, cars, and some really personal matters like babies crying that hurt her ears.  Such  egocentricity was replaced by empathy towards the plight of the poor in the community embodied in the narrative (Transcript 1).  In this extended writing task, the child writer  was directed, probably through pre-writing discussion, to look at the community with a broader view and brought to a heightened awareness of crime, social injustice and deprivation in the community. When I went to Safeway, I saw a man that was on the corner. my own [money] but he still want more money. money and ran away from us. us.  I gave him some of  Then he grab all of my mom’s  I think that he wants to be rich so he ran away from  I feel sad and my mom feels the same.  Transcript 1: Katie’s experiential story about social problems in the community With the specific functions grouped into different categories according to the purposes they serve, the next step would be to examine how they were distributed among the various categories.  Comparing their distribution in the school and the home writing  context would help to show how personal, social, recreational, and learning functions were differently proportioned in the children’s writing in the two settings.  The  percentages indicate that for both writing contexts, personal functions assumed the largest proportion of writing functions; they made up 42.07 percent of all the functions in school writing, and 59.87 percent in home writing. both the school and the home setting.  Social functions ranked second for  The two figures were also quite close to each  other, 33.8 percent for school writing, and 33.12 percent for home.  As for recreational  functions, the group percentage for school writing was 14.48 percent as opposed to 7.01 percent for home writing.  There was a bigger difference than expected, the situation  probably due to the relatively large amount of imaginary writing in the school-based writing samples.  Practicing that was specific to school writing assumed 9.65 percent of  the total number of functions in the setting.  102  4.4.5 Discussion of Findings of Categories of Functions A fundamental purpose for writing is creating meaning; writing is a process of making meaning rather than transcribing meanings that have been already made (Clark & Ivanič, 1997).  For children, a goal for putting pen to paper is to make sense of their  experiences in the social world, and to construct meaning with real experience or imagination derived from their social and cultural context.  For ideational meaning, they  would have to decide why they want to write in the first place, and then what message to put across, and how to shape the information and ideas in the message.  As for their  interpersonal positioning, they would have to consider for whom the message is intended, and what they want to achieve with the writing act in relation to others. The child writers in the present study used writing to fulfill different kinds of purposes in school and home contexts.  They embodied a wide range of functions in  both the school and the home setting, personal, social, recreational, and learning, to write about themselves, their families, and their community.  And similar to findings by  McGinley and Kamberelis (1991) from their case study of third graders’ reading and writing functions, an overwhelming proportion of the focal children’s writing functioned in personal ways in both the school and the home writing context (Table 4).  The  children enacted personal functions to construct themselves while constructing ideational and interpersonal meaning at the same time.  Second in position were the social  functions for both writing contexts; written language was used in a fairly large proportion in social ways to affirm or negotiate relationships with others.  Recreational functions  ranked third in either context. The learning category was the least frequent one even in the school context. Different patterns in the distribution of the various function categories between the settings could be found.  As shown in Table 4, while the figures in the school setting  show a gradual descent from one category to another, there was great disparity among the percentages in the home setting.  That is to say, writing in the former setting was more  evenly distributed among the categories of functions than it was in the latter.  In the  home setting, a great proportion of the functions was in the personal and the social categories; it was 59.87 percent for the former, and 33.12 percent for the latter. This was particularly important for the home setting where more than half of the functions  103  were related to personal expression and fulfillment.  It was also noteworthy that  expressing in the personal category was the most frequent function in the home setting assuming a percentage of 19.11 (Table 4).  The figures indicate that the children’s home  writing was by majority done for personal and social purposes.  This corroborated  research findings on children’s writing functions in the home and related social contexts (Hammer et al., 2003; McCarthey, 1997; Paratore et al., 2005; Staab & Smith, 1986; Taylor, 1982). For cultural and literacy activities, such as writing, there is always a personal and/or a social purpose.  Writing as a means of communication involves a personal  purpose for representing oneself and a social one for interacting with others. given rise by a need to respond to a particular social situation.  Both are  When engaged in an act  of writing, people are not only concerned about the way they represent the world but also how they position themselves in an interpersonal dimension; they assume certain perspectives about their authority and their relationship with the intended audience (Ivanič & Camps, 2001).  Adopting a particular position in relation to the reader, the  writer conveys or exchanges ideas, information, hopes or anticipations about future happenings which also project an image of the writer him/herself.  Such personal and  social functions were particularly relevant for the second language children in the study. They were emerging members of different communities of practice and actors in various social and cultural spheres of activity.  To be accepted and to assume agency, there was  a need for them to explore interpersonal power relationships with others, examining and negotiating their social identity, their practices, values and beliefs in relation to those in the mainstream community.  For example, they would want to establish an identity for  themselves as a knowledge possessor among their peers having some specific information or knowledge to be shared with others. Diversity was also found in the coverage of the functions within individual categories between the two settings.  In the home context, there was not only a wider  range of functions but also a more comprehensive coverage of them in each category. For both the personal and the social category, the whole range of functions identified was covered in the home setting.  Ego enhancing and enjoying were not found in the  personal category for school writing, however.  Neither was interacting present in the  104  social category; there was instead a heavy focus on informing, the display of academic knowledge and understanding in a text. It should be noted that the high percentage of informing in school writing (18.62 percent) was mainly responsible for the closeness of the figures for the social category between the two settings, 33.8 percent for the school setting and 33.12 percent for the home (Table 4).  As mentioned earlier, part of the  emphasis on informing could be due to the major research project on informational writing that the class participated in prior to and during the data collection period of the present study.  The major cause might be the literacy development objectives of the  writing curriculum in particular and the academic learning goals of the school curriculum in general.  As for the recreational category, the relatively wide gap between the  settings could be attributed to the absence of imagining-fiction and the very low frequency of imagining-fantasy in home writing.  The two imagining functions were the  only components of this category for the school setting; representing written language for literary creation was not present at all. The findings suggest that in the classroom setting, writing seemed more geared towards helping students learn how to write and construct academic knowledge than developing abilities in using written language as a semiotic social tool to meet life demands.  While there was a fair distribution of functions for personal, social and  recreational purposes, they were very often encased in academic learning writing activities for practicing specific writing skills and lexico-grammatical features.  Some  important elements, such as students’ enjoyment and self-aggrandizement had been neglected.  Assumptions were often made that children would want to write in class  assignments with prescribed parameters focusing on instructional rather than communication purposes.  However, such writing tasks do have a role to play.  Research findings show that there is differential and specialization of writing functions in the different contexts of the school and the home, (e.g., Bissex, 1980). The major purposes for writing in school are to promote learning, helping students to learn writing skills and academic content, and demonstrate learning of such (Chapman, 2002).  The  writing prompts found in some of the school writing samples might be considered prescriptive in that they set the parameters for the ideational meaning and interpersonal meaning of the text.  However, there was a need for such learning through explicit  105  instruction and frequent focused practice with classroom writing tasks to achieve curriculum objectives. A mandated instructional goal of the language arts programme is to prepare students for content area writing and writing across the curriculum to prepare them for academic learning in school and beyond.  Chapman (2002) has shown that primary  school children were capable of writing across the curriculum without being limited to writing in language arts.  One specialty about the school writing in the study was the  incorporation of an academic component across different genres, a situation not found in the home context.  Many of the school writing samples were based on themes in social  studies or science.  Their topic, content, and genre were often streamlined through  writing instruction and scaffolding to achieve the learning objectives of a particular thematic unit.  Students engaged in descriptive or fictional writing as part of class  research projects.  The purpose for such writing activities was obviously writing to learn,  not just the English language but also academic knowledge, skills and attitude on specific subjects and topics.  These pedagogical practices accounted for the dominance of the  learning element in many of the school-based written products. The school writing tasks seemed to be confined to certain basic writing activities, such as story writing and journal writing other than worksheet exercises.  Where the  writing curriculum was aimed at developing an all round literacy, writing for social interaction, recreation and literary expression should not be left out of the curriculum. This is particularly important in the early stage of writing development as children build up their repertoire of genres.  The typified forms of discourse are vehicles with which  they can organize written language to achieve different writing purposes in response to recurring situational contexts (Chapman, 1999). Discussion of the written genres in the children’s school and home writing will be dealt with in Chapter 5. In the home, where much of the writing was self-initiated, writing was a response to specific social situations rather than done for its own sake.  The children used  language in a lively and creative manner for different purposes and intended audiences. Allowing more time and freedom for creativity and expression, the home writing context might be more conducive to writing for personal and social purposes when compared with the relatively controlled writing situation in school.  The absence of the need for  106  accountability was highly relevant, in particular for second language users.  These  children could write without inhibition for any imaginable purpose, without fear of appearing inadequate or inappropriate for lack of sociolinguistic competence.  And most  important of all, they could have free choice of topic, genre, content, context, and reader. Following their own writer’s agenda (Meyer, 1992), and given full rein to their imagination and expression, these child writers acted intuitively loading their written products with functions to fulfill their own writing goals. Barton and Hamilton (2000) argue that writing functions are dependent on the social meanings with which the text is imbued.  The home with its intricate ties to a  cultural community is a broader and more complicated social context than the school. The non-academic setting of the context allowed the children more opportunities to act, to respond to actions, and to interact with others.  The home was often permeated with a  more complex social structure than the classroom; complicated interpersonal power relations played out with various members of the family and extended family living under the same roof, a common phenomenon in Chinese immigrant families.  It was an  abounding playing field for children to explore new roles and social identities, to understand or negotiate their experiences, and to transform their lives and relationships with others  The home provided a greater variety of social contexts that initiated a  wider range of purposes for writing as “each individual act of writing produce[d] unique meanings to serve a unique configuration of purposes in a unique situation… created within the constraints of a cultural and socio-political context” (Clark & Ivanič, 1997. p. 110). 4.5 Summary of findings The following findings were arrived at through quantitative analysis of the writing samples produced in the two settings. sets of texts.  A number of functions were identified in the two  Although the focal children produced more texts in the school setting than  in the home, descriptive statistical analysis of the data show that they enacted more functions on average in their home writing than in their school writing. functions identified were common to both settings.  Some of the  Others were unique to either the  school or the home, with a slightly wider range of functions found among the home-based texts than those produced as school assignments.  While the functions  107  enacted in school writing were almost uniform among the four focal children, there was more individual variation among the children in their enactment of specific functions in the home setting. The specific functions were categorized according to their nature and the writing purpose they served.  Four categories of functions were documented, namely, personal,  social, recreational, and learning functions.  A comparison of their frequency in the two  settings shows that there was a more even distribution of the different types of functions in the school than in the home writing samples.  In the latter, an overwhelming  proportion of the functions were related to personal and social writing purposes, while the practicing function was not present at all. The findings in relation to functions support much of the existing research which suggests that children write for different purposes, and that written language plays distinctive personal and social roles in our daily lives.  People write for action that  includes social contact, for information, and for entertainment (Halliday, 1985).  In  writing as a social act, people accomplish three basic functions with the meaning created from written language: for expressing, for transacting information, and for literary purposes (Britton et al., 1975).  On the other hand, the findings were somewhat different  from those reported by Paratore et al. (2005) who found that elementary level immigrant children generally wrote for three purposes at home: learning, recreation, and social interaction.  The present study shows that the second generation immigrant children  engaged in writing for personal purposes as well as social interaction and recreation at home.  However, probably because their writing was done on a voluntary self-initiated  basis, learning purposes were not included.  108  Chapter 5 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION (2): WRITTEN GENRES IN SCHOOL AND AT HOME Where literacy development is conceptualized as a cultural process in which children learn about written language by internalizing social actions (Dyson, 1993), socialization into literacy is achieved through processing the words of others, in spoken or written form, in a kind of social dialogue (Bakhtin, 1986).  Based on this Bakhtinian  perspective, written genres are compositional structures that are embedded in and develop out of the various spheres of human activity, a set of signals for constructing or interpreting the particulars of a specific communicative interaction, but are open-ended enough to allow for individual choice and creativity.  Children experience and produce  different written genres as they participate in recurring social situations in their everyday lives, such as the home and the classroom. This chapter presents analyses and findings about the genres identified in the writing in the school and the home settings.  Firstly, the individual genres identified in  the two contexts are presented and compared in terms of their frequency and distribution across the settings.  Then, the genres in the particular settings are discussed in relation to  the genre categories they are classified into, namely, chronologies, descriptions, interactions, and word plays.  Examples of writing samples are included to illustrate  their features and the functions enacted in them.  Next, comparisons are made between  the two settings to show the range and variety of genres the children employed in their writing between school and home in answer to Research Question 2. 5.1 Overview: Genres in the children’s school writing and home writing There was considerable difference in the frequency and distribution of specific genres between the two settings.  Three genres were identified in the children’s 67  school writing samples: story, journal, and listing of items as shown in Table 5.  More  than half of the school writing samples were journals, and the rest were roughly divided between lists and stories.  109  Table 5: Frequency and percentages of genres in school writing  Elaine  Story 3 (20%)  Journal 8 (53%)  List 4 (27%)  Total 15 (100%)  Katie  5 (28%)  9 (50%)  4 (22%)  18 (100%)  John  4 (22%)  9 (50%)  5 (28%)  18 (100%)  William  3 (19%)  9 (56%)  4 (25%)  16 (100%)  15 (22.39%)  35 (52.24%)  17 (25.37%)  67 (100%)  Total  With regard to the home setting, ten genres were identified among the 54 writing samples.  With reference to Table 6, the journal was the most popular genre in the home  setting as it was in the school setting although its percentage was much lower in the former than in the latter.  This could be related to the fact that the children wrote in a  wider range of genres when writing on a voluntary basis at home. the school setting.  Stories came last in  This was an unexpected finding based on a general belief that  children would devote most of their writing to creating stories in language arts lessons or at home. It should also be noted that while the four focal children wrote in all the three genres with almost the same amount in each at school, there was much individual variation in the range and type of genres they produced in the home setting; the journal was the only genre that all the four children wrote in at home.  There was not only a  wider range of genres but also a greater variety of genre categories in the home setting than in the school.  While only chronologies and descriptions were found in the school  writing samples, four categories of genres could be identified in the home-based texts: chronologies, descriptions, interactions, and word plays.  In the school context,  chronologies encompassed stories, journals, and lists while descriptions included only journals and lists.  For the home context, chronologies were exclusive to stories and  journals; descriptions were found in descriptions of ‘my favourite things’, non-fiction writing, drawings, and stories.  Under interactions were greeting cards, notes, and  110  4(20)  John  (  7(12.96)  ): percentage  Total  -  -  Katie  William  3(15.79)  Elaine  Story  -  5(25)  -  -  My favorite things  15(27.78) 5(9.26)  1(20)  8(40)  2(20)  4(21.05)  Journal  1(1.85)  -  -  -  1(5.26)  Nonfiction writing  3(5.56)  1(20)  2(20)  -  Drawing  Table 6: Frequency and percentages of genres in home writing  111  6(11.11)  3(60)  1(5)  2(20)  Greeting card  4(7.41)  -  -  1(10)  3(15.79)  Note  -  -  3(30)  3(15.79)  Poem  2(3.7) 6(11.11)  -  2(10)  -  -  Diary  5(9.26)  -  -  -  5(26.32)  Joke  54(100)  5 (100)  20(100)  10(100)  19(100)  Total  diaries.  Word plays included poems and jokes.  These will be discussed in greater  detail in the next two sections in relation to individual genres in the two different settings. 5.2 Frequency and distribution of genres in school writing As stated above, three genres were identified in the children’s school writing: story, journal, and listing of items. It can be seen from Table 5 that the journal was the most dominant genre in the setting, comprising 52.24 percent of the total number of school writing samples.  Lists and stories came next, constituting 25.37 percent and  22.39 percent respectively.  It should also be noted that the focal children wrote almost  the same number of pieces for journals and lists. other three children wrote nine pieces each. John who wrote five.  Elaine wrote eight journals while the  For lists, they all wrote four pieces except  The difference in frequency was slightly wider for stories the  number of which ranged from five for Katie to three for Elaine and William.  In fact,  there was very little individual difference in the total number of pieces of school writing among the focal children, ranging from 15 for Elaine to 18 for Katie and John.  The  figures in Table 5 show that in the school setting, all the four children wrote more or less the same number of pieces in the same range of genres, and in fact very often using the same title.  This was not surprising at all in view of the fact that the children’s writing  tasks were all set by the teacher who streamlined their work through the use of prompts and scaffolding provided in the form of pre-writing activities and worksheets. The school-based genres included both chronologies and descriptions, as seen in Table 7.  The former made up 55.23 percent of the total number of school writing  samples while the latter assumed 44.77 percent. Each of the genres will be described below in respect of their nature and distribution between the two categories. 5.2.1 Stories The stories in the school writing samples were all chronologies, narratives with crisis and complication.  Some of them were imaginary which could be fantasy or  fiction while others were experiential.  By far most of the stories were fantasies,  constituting 60 percent of the total number of stories.  The primary function was  imagining-fantasy, and secondary functions to support the major intention were expressing, practicing, and representing oral language.  Most of these stories were  written according to prompts set by the teacher for the whole class, with all the children  112  3 20 4.48%  3  2  9  60  13.43%  John  William  Total  % within genre % among genres  1  4.48%  20  3  1  -  1  1.5%  2.8  1  -  -  1  48.6  17  4  5  4  25.37%  Descriptions: 44.77%  ]: number of pieces of writing in a particular genre  Chronologies: 55.23%  [  -  2  Katie  2  2  25.37%  48.6  17  5  4  4  5.97%  23.5  4  1  1  1  5.97%  23.5  4  1  1  1  13.43%  53  9  2  3  2  Story [15] Journal [35] List [7] Chron. Chron. Chron. Chron. Desc. Chron. Desc. Desc. fiction experi- fantasy experi- realistic fiction fantasy realistic ential ential 1 4 4 1 1 2  Elaine  Chron. fantasy  Table 7: Distribution of genres across chronologies and descriptions in school writing  113  100%  67(100%)  16(100%)  18(100%)  18(100%)  15(100%)  Total  writing on the same topic and producing similar content, and very often, enacting more or less the same functions. All four children wrote a fantasy story about a donkey finding a magic pebble.  It  was based on a well known picture book, ‘Sylvester and the Magic Pebble’ (Steig, 1969) which was a winner of the Caldecott Award.  The writing task was to retell the story that  the children had read in class to practice paragraph development, a structured written exercise aimed at practicing the schematic framework of a particular form of story. According to the teacher’s weekly plan, the students were encouraged to rewrite the ending of the story as part of the school assignment, but none of the focal children did this.  Figure 6 shows John’s rendition of the story retelling.  The story was made up of  three paragraphs written under separate headings: ‘Beginning’; ‘Middle’; and ‘End’. (Transcript) Story Sylvester and the Magic Pebble Beginning “It was a rainy day,” cried the donkey! The donkey had a pebble he can make any wish he want. The donkey went to the forest and made a wish. Middle in the middle the donkey made a wish. He said, “I wish I was a rock.” So the donkey was a rock. He was a rock. “I wish I was normal.” But nothing happen. Then a lion came. The Ending was the donkey was sad he will never turn to normal. Then his parents put the pebble on the rock. Then the rock was donkey. Figure 6: John’s fantasy story about a magic pebble This more able boy managed to develop the story with the given framework, but the resulting text seemed more like a collection of paragraphs than a coherent story.  The 114  child writer was mindful of what happened in the different parts of the story, the beginning, the middle, and the end, and marked them significantly with the use of visuals. But he did not pay due attention to how the various parts were connected and how the events developed from one another. objective of the writing task.  Moreover, he did not seem to appreciate the  Rather than creating a new ending, he faithfully retold the  story following the original plot, development of events, and ending, as did the other three focal children.  This was reflective of the children’s tendency to recontextualize  their reading materials, adapting texts that they had been exposed to in their writing. Besides fantasy stories, there were three fictional stories constituting 20 percent of the total number of stories.  They were free writing with self-selected titles and content,  one written by John and two by Katie.  The primary function was imagining-fiction, and  the secondary functions were informing and representing oral language.  John’s story  was a simple recount of him finding no water from any tap in the house on a boiling hot day.  Later he went to the shop and bought some water with the help of his friend after  which they took a rest in a warm place.  Katie’s fictional stories, on the other hand, were  complete with crisis and complication.  One of them was highly imaginative and seemed  like a refrain of a class project on social problems in the community.  The other was  informative as well as fictional; it was about a caterpillar that she picked up from the sidewalk and put into a jar (Figure 7).  It then turned into a butterfly and she set it free.  The piece of writing seemed to be an extension from the class project on insects. the information and language that she had learned working on the project.  It used  The text was  supported by a drawing of herself holding up to the sky a jar from which the butterfly emerged to fly far, far away.  This added a sentimental touch to the piece which was  basically written to inform how a caterpillar metamorphosed into a butterfly. The rest of the school stories were experiential in content.  Experiential stories  were compositions about real, or supposed to be real, events in their experience, narrated in a chronological order with comments..  As shown in Table 7, experiential stories  made up 20 percent of the total number of stories, the same as fictional ones.  There was  only one experiential story in the school writing samples, a teacher-assigned composition  115  (Transcript) Story One morning I saw a caterpillar on the sidewalk. Then I put it in a jar. It has holes in it. When it was bed time it was till in jar. Then I put the caterpillar on the drawer. When I woke up, the caterpillar was gone. And now it turn into a butterfly! I let the butterfly go and free far, far and far.  Figure 7: Katie’s fictional story about a caterpillar about the poor and homeless people that they had encountered.  It was done as part of a  class project inquiring into the social problems of the community.  The major functions  were referring to experience and expressing, and a secondary function was representing oral language, as illustrated by Elaine’s story shown in Transcript 2: I saw a homeless person that have old toys to sell. I ask mom and dad, “Can we buy some toys?” My mom and dad said, “No.” I felt sad because I can’t buy any toys. Once I saw a man that is homeless. it.  He got a shopping cart.  Inside there is cans in  I saw a man that don’t have a shirt on, just pants. He got a sign said I need  money.  Transcript 2: Elaine’s experiential story about the homeless  116  5.2.2 Journals The journals were written in a school exercise book specifically assigned for the purpose. The children wrote almost the same number of journals: Elaine wrote eight of them and the rest wrote nine each.  As seen in Table 7, they were roughly divided  between chronologies and descriptions, 51.43 percent (2.86 percent+ 48.57 percent) for the former and 48.57 percent for the latter. The chronological journals were free choice writing in which the topic and content were all different for each of the children. Among them, only one instance was imaginary writing.  It was written by Katie, a  fantasy recount of what she anticipated would happen if her plant grew up high in the sky and reached the princess’s castle.  The other chronological journals (48.57 percent of the  total number of journals) were all experiential writing, sequential recounts of daily life experience, such as going skating, playing with friends, watching TV, or having a loose tooth.  When given a free topic, the children chose to write about events that they found  interesting, and what they thought had significance for them, expressing their opinions and making comments.  John wrote five of these, and the other children wrote four each.  They were often records of time-sequenced events done over the weekend or predictions of what would be done on a certain day.  The primary function was referring to  experience, and secondary functions were expressing, informing, reasoning, anticipating and representing oral language.  Figure 8 shows one of the chronological experiential  (Transcript) Journal On the weekend I played my computer, I went to “”. I went to level eleven. When I was finished playing computer, I watched TV, I played my video games. Then I did my homework, there sure was a lot of homework.  Figure 8: William’s chronological experiential journal about his weekend 117  journals that William wrote about the things that he liked doing and others that he did not enjoy so much, using drawings and bubble speech to express himself.  It also illustrates  how pervasive pop culture was in the personal world of the child writer. The rest of the journals were descriptions that made up 48.57 percent of the total number of school journals (Table 7).  In these descriptive journals, the focus was  descriptions and comments related to an object referent or situation and its attributes rather than actions or events.  They were all realistic, describing real objects or  situations in their daily life experience.  Most of them were based on themes suggested  by the teacher, with the same title for each child, such as ‘The best thing about my mother’ and ‘Planting my seed.’ The major function was informing, and secondary functions were expressing, reasoning, practicing, anticipating, and referring to experience.  The focus on the informing function could be related to the major  longitudinal research project on young children’s informational writing that the class was participating in with other classes and schools. Other than these teacher-assigned descriptive journals, there were two self-selected ones.  One was by Elaine describing what she would do if she could go to  Disneyland with her friends and family.  The other one was written by William, a  realistic description of a visit to the Space Centre (Transcript 3).  He enacted several  functions within this relatively short text: informing, referring to experience, expressing, and reasoning.  The major intention was to inform the reader about the space centre.  He also referred to his experience and the fun he had there, expressing his feelings about them and reasoning to provide a rationale for his opinions.  By describing his lived  experiences and his responses to them, he positioned himself in relation to his social world and constructed a sense of self of the situation and of purposes (Hyland, 2003). On April 11th 2005, me and my class went to H.R. Space Centre and the best part was the Life on Mars and the space centre arcade.  The Life on Mars is fun because it  was fast, it was a mission and I have to save Mars from shooting meteors that was falling towards Mars and to the ship.  The H.R. Space Centre Arcade because there  were a lot of games and different kinds of games.  Transcript 3: William’s descriptive journal about a visit to the Space Centre 118  5.2.3 Lists The third type of genre in school writing was list, or a listing of items.  They  were series of phrases or sentences linked to a certain topic or object with varying degree of thematic interrelationship.  Mainly in the form of worksheet exercises, they were  written according to prompts and instructions given on the worksheet to practice specific writing skills, such as paragraph development and the use of punctuation marks.  The  major functions were practicing and informing, and secondary functions were imagining-fiction, imagining-fantasy, expressing, reasoning, and anticipating. Being worksheet exercises or structured writing practices, the lists were produced in almost equal amount by each child, writing on the same topics and for more or less the same functions.  Four such writing exercises were completed by each child.  John  wrote an additional piece in place of a fictional story about the poor and the homeless in the community.  He wrote a list of ‘I wonder’ statements to comment on the social  aspects of the community. depending on the theme.  The lists could be descriptive or chronological in nature, As seen in Table 7, one of the writing tasks was chronological  (23.53 percent) while the rest were descriptive, either fantasy (23.53 percent) or realistic (52.94 percent).  In the single chronological list, the children wrote a series of fictional  sequential actions in an event - the things that they would do if they were a teacher for one day.  The objective was to practice the use of temporal connectives, such as ‘first’,  ‘next’, and ‘finally’. As for the descriptive lists, one of them was about real objects – a list of things that the children liked to do or eat to practice the use of comma.  Another one was about  a real situation, wonderful things in their community and the ways to make it even better. The third one was semi-realistic and semi-imaginary; the children were asked to draw up a list of attributes to describe the most amazing bug that they had ever seen.  The  children wrote in a worksheet ruled with seven lines for describing the different parts of its body.  Figure 9 is William’s work in which he drew a verbal picture about the most  amazing bug that he had ever seen.  It was a beautiful combination of academic  information and aesthetic description, and the work of the other three children had more or less the same effect.  The child writers incorporated knowledge about bugs that they  had learned in the class project on insects into their imaginary writing.  They integrated  119  colourful and sensuous descriptions with the list of attributes about the name and characteristics of the different parts of the body of a bug, adding a literary effect to their work.  The text was accompanied by a drawing of the bug with its features exaggerated  in a cartoon like manner to match the description.  (Transcript) List Today I saw the most amazing bug. With one circle yellow head. With two straight antennae With one fat brown thorax. With four glowing wings. With one big, fat yellow abdomen. With six skinny legs. With two big golden eyes. But it got away! Have you seen my bug? By William Figure 9: William’s list of descriptions of the most amazing bug 5.2.4 Summary of Findings in School Writing The findings from the quantitative analyses show that the focal children wrote in a limited variety of genres in the school writing context when compared with their home-based writing.  There were only three specific genres in their school writing,  stories, journals, and lists, while the home setting saw ten of them.  In terms of genre  categories, the school writing samples were confined to chronologies and descriptions. There was considerable distribution of these two categories within each of the three school genres though. experiential ones. experiential stories.  The stories were chronologies that included both imaginary and  Fantasy stories formed the majority while there were only three These were all written on teacher-assigned topics.  with self-selected topics included three fictional stories.  Free writing  As for the journals,  120  approximately half of them were chronologies.  They were written on self-selected  topics and all except one, involved experiential content.  The other half of the journals  was realistic descriptions; with the exception of two instances that were free writing, they were written on topics assigned by the teacher. descriptions.  Lists included both chronologies and  Completed as writing exercises, they were roughly divided among  imaginative chronologies, fantasy descriptions, and realistic descriptions. The above summary of the findings in school writing genres points to the fact that much of the children’s writing was prescribed by the teacher in respect of genre and topic. The phenomenon was probably related to institutional efforts to meet the objectives of the writing curriculum and to ensure learning outcomes across students in the class. findings also reflect the interest of the children when writing on their own.  The  In their  self-selected story writing, they chose to write fictional stories rather than fantasy ones. Moreover, chronologies were more popular than descriptions when writing journals. The child writers were more interested in recounting or narrating their lived experiences to make sense of what happened to them, what they observed, and their interactions with others in various social contexts.  Perhaps as second language learners in an early stage  of writing development, they found the recording of events and actions taking place in their immediate environment an easier task than describing them in abstract terms.  In  terms of both cognitive and sociolinguistic demands, the former was more manageable for these children.  They had passed the stage of writing about concrete objects as  observed among younger children who drew pictures to generate or anchor thoughts and content for writing, then labeled them or described their attributes (Chapman, 1995; Dyson, 1992). These children’s writing had moved away from an egocentric focus to a consciousness of their social experiences.  Being older and having more physical  freedom and social life, they engaged in more active and frequent interactions with others in the home, school, and community as compared with the first graders in Chapman’s (1995) study.  Their focus was on to topics involving actions that affected their  relationships with other members of the social contexts they participated in rather than physical objects or places as found in the writing of kindergarteners or first graders.  For  example, they wrote about their anticipations and aspirations for change that transcended their physical daily experiences.  They had expanded their spheres of activity to the  121  wider community as they explored their position in relation to others.  Even when  writing within a set genre, such as stories, the children chose to write fictional chronologies rather than fantasies when given free selection of topics.  Fictional as they  were, the stories were chronologies built on imaginations that were actually extensions of their daily life experiences. 5.3 Frequency and distribution of genres in home writing The children’s home writing exhibited a greater variety of genres than in the school context.  As stated earlier, a total of ten genres was identified in the children’s  home writing with journal being the most popular genre just like it was in the school context.  Apart from stories and journals that were also found in school writing, there  was an interesting array of genres which included greeting cards, notes, diaries, drawings, poems, jokes, descriptions of ‘my favourite things’, and non-fiction writing (a piece of writing identified as such by the writer herself). For the analysis of the home genres, apart from stories and journals that were found in both settings, the others were grouped into categories according to their nature; for example greeting cards, notes, and diaries were grouped under interactions.  This  arrangement would made inter- and intra-setting comparisons easier and highlight the variety of the types of genres in the two settings.  With reference to Table 8, journals,  which were all chronologies, made up 27.78 percent of all the home writing samples. Coming next was the group of interactional genres that included greeting cards, notes, and diaries as mentioned above.  Interactions constituted 22.22 percent of the total  home-based texts. These were followed by word plays that included poems and jokes and which made up 20.37 percent of the total writing samples.  The descriptive genres  that consisted of drawings, non-fiction writing, and descriptions of ‘my favourite things’ came next; this group of genres assumed 16.67 percent of the total, the sum of 5.56 percent, 9.26 percent and 1.85 percent.  Stories, which included both chronologies and  descriptions, came last as a group by itself, making up only 12.96 percent of the total home writing samples. As for individual distribution, John wrote 20 pieces in 5 genres, and Elaine wrote 19 pieces in 6. genres.  Katie, the average ability girl, wrote only 10 pieces but in 5 different  William, the average ability boy, contributed the least, writing only 5 pieces  122  -  2  1 15 27.78%  4 Chron. fantasy[3] Desc. fantasy[1] -  7 12.96%  8  -  3 Chron. experiential [2] Desc. realistic[1] -  Chronologies: 37.04%  Total % among genres  William  John  Katie  Elaine  1 1.85%  -  -  -  1  Desc. realistic  Nonfiction writing  3 5.56%  1  -  2  -  Desc. fiction  Drawing  Descriptions: 20.37%  5 9.26%  -  5  Desc. realistic  Chron. experiential 4  Chron./ Desc.  My favorite things  Journal  Story  4 7.4%  -  -  1  3  Interaction  Note  Interactions: 22.22%  6 11.11%  3  1  2  -  Interaction  Greeting card  2 3.71%  -  2  -  -  Interaction  Diary  5 9.26.%  -  -  -  5  Word play  Joke  Word plays: 20.37%  6 11.11%  -  -  3  3  Word play  Poem  Table 8: Distribution of genres across chronologies, descriptions, interactions, and word plays in home writing  123  54 100%  5(100%)  20(100%)  10(100%)  19(100%)  Total  in 3 genres.  As mentioned earlier, the names of the genres were suggested by the  children themselves.  They divided their writing samples into different groups and  assigned a genre name to each one of them.  This process reflected their understanding,  knowledge, and perceptions of the characteristic functions and features of the various genres they had learned about and practiced writing in and out of school. 5.3.1 Stories Only the two more able children, John and Elaine, wrote stories at home.  There  were a total of seven stories constituting 12.96 percent of the 54 home writing samples (Table 8) as mentioned above.  John wrote four stories and Elaine three.  William did not choose to write stories in the home context.  There was considerable  variation among the children’s stories as in the school context. chronologies about time-sequenced events.  Katie and  Five of the stories were  Similar to the school stories, these  chronological stories included both fantasies and experiential ones, but there were no fictional stories, however.  Descriptive stories were unique to the home context.  There  were two of them, one of which was a fantasy and the other a realistic description. John’s stories were all fantasies. descriptive.  Three of them were chronological and one was  Two of his chronological fantasies were about a super hero, a fictitious  character from the comics he loved reading very much. stories.  Transcript 4 shows one of these  Its structure and development followed the story grammar commonly found in  comics, a hero fighting villains and protecting the meek. followed by a crisis.  There was an orientation  Then appeared the resolution which was the hero gaining super  power in some dramatic way and defeating the villain. sense of completeness to the story.  There was also a coda giving a  What was interesting was the inclusion of two  non-fantasy but fictitious characters in the setting, two kids that represented the ‘commoners’ who might well be the writer himself and his neighbour both of whom were comic fans.  It was a way in which the child writer developed his sense of self,  imagining that he was a kid who had the good fortune of meeting and being rescued by a super hero. Once upon a time there was a super hero that can fly. George and Harold.  They write lots of comics.  There was two kid named  Most people like their comics.  124  There was so much bad people to fight. fight for them and he did.  George and Harold asked the super hero to  So then a bad person made a big thing that the super hero  can not make him died! So the super hero got some super power juice from a shop to drink.  Then the super hero was so strong that he made the bad person died.  Then the super hero went back to the place where he came for.  George and Harold  miss the best super hero of all.  Transcript 4: John’s fantasy story about a super hero John’s third chronological fantasy was a fairly tale like story; he found a thousand ducks in his closet in the middle of the night and had some trouble looking after and feeding them. his pet.  Finally, the problem was solved and he managed to keep one of them for  His descriptive story was also highly imaginative and full of action; it was  about a big city where kids could do anything they wanted because there were no bad guys but only good people.  For these imaginary stories, whether chronological or  descriptive, the major function was imagining-fantasy, and secondary functions were expressing, reasoning, and representing oral language. Elaine wrote three stories which were relatively simple and short when compared to John’s.  Their schematic structure was also different.  Two of them were  chronological experiential recounts with no crisis or complication and one was a straight forward realistic description.  The chronological stories were based on social contexts  and about real events that she encountered in her home and school life, such as her baby cousin having a fever, and her class winning the raffle ticket sale competition. descriptive story was also about real experiences.  The  The major function for these stories  was referring to experience which was supported by expressing and reasoning. Figure 10 shows one of her stories, a beautiful description of a nature scene that she saw outside her window one morning.  It was a sensational piece of writing  involving sensory descriptions, a flower slipping from her fingers when she tried to pick it up, and feeling like a piece of cloud when she touched it. picture that she drew to accompany the text.  What was striking was a  It was drawn with coloured felt pens free  hand showing a bright yellow sun, two blue clouds, and a number of black birds in the sky hovering over a grassy field spotted with flowers of different colours: red, purple, 125  yellow, and turquoise green.  There was even an insect resting on one of the leaves.  The whole picture was elaborate, colourful and delightful.  This second language child  writer used both verbal and visual symbols to convey her ideas, her representation of the beauty of nature that met her eyes when she poked her head out of the window one morning.  The graphic image integrated with the textual representation, the former  describing the physical context and the latter the sensational feelings. served to focus her description as she recreated the scene.  The picture also  The use of drawing was a  strategy to make up for her lack of adequate linguistic resources and sophistication to represent her wonderful experience that she wanted to record on paper to keep the memory alive or to share it with others.  (Transcript) Story One morning I poke my head out of the window. It was full of grass, flowers and birds. When I try to pick up the flower, it did slip. It feels like touching a piece of cloud.  Figure 10: Elaine’s descriptive story of what she saw outside the window one morning 5.3.2 Journals All four children wrote journals that constituted 27.78 percent of the total number of home-based texts, as seen in Table 8.  This genre had the largest number of writing  samples and was the only one that all the four children wrote in.  However, there was  much diversity among the children in terms of frequency when compared with the school journals.  The number of pieces ranged from eight (John) to one (William).  Elaine wrote four pieces and Katie two.  In between,  While the school journals included both  126  descriptions and chronologies, the children unanimously showed a distinct preference for chronologies when writing journals at home.  They were all chronological experiential  writing about time-sequenced actions or events related to real life experiences in different social contexts, such as visiting a garage, watching a show, or playing games.  The  primary functions of these home journals were referring to experience and reasoning, and secondary functions were expressing, anticipating, informing, and representing oral language.  At home, the children wrote more widely about their experiences in the  family or out-of-school daily life and activities.  They were unlike the journals they  wrote for the teacher in school with assigned topics, but were similar to the free-writing chronological ones, as shown by comparing William’s experiential school journal (Figure 8) with one written by John at home given below (Transcript 5).  As in the school  context when there was no restriction on the topic or content, the children used writing freely as a tool for recording and sharing significant experiences, events, and knowledge with others.  In this home journal, John narrated a multitude of events distilled from a  day’s work and expressed his different responses to them, with feelings fluctuating among happy, so-so, and experiencing the worst day ever in his life. Today was a so-so day because my other friend kick me on the tummy and it hurt a lot.  The happy thing was my mom got me Seven Up to drink and I let my mom  drink some of it and she said it was so good.  Then I saw small bean that are red and  white and blue! Today was the worst day ever in my life and feeling sad. Sunday it is Mother’s Day and I’m going to do what my mom say to me.  On The  happiest thing is watching TV and enjoy watching so long! The sad day was last week because I lost my toy Patty and then few weeks I just looked somewhere and I found it and liked it.  Transcript 5: John’s experiential journal about a so-so day. 5.3.3 Descriptions of ‘My Favourite Things’ Descriptions of ‘my favourite things’ were descriptions according to the genre classification scheme.  They contained factual or emotional descriptions of objects  which happened to be things in the real world rather than imaginary.  The intention was 127  to provide information about an object, an entity, a desire or some anticipation.  Hence,  the major functions were informing, expressing, reasoning, and in fewer cases, anticipating.  There were five pieces of them, all written by John who grouped and  named them ‘My favourite things’.  Comprising 9.26 percent of the total number of  home writing samples, they were a collection of descriptions of the things that he liked – his favourite juice, season, animal, month, and food.  An example has been presented  and discussed in Chapter 4, a piece in which John described his favourite month and justified his choice for it (Figure 2).  Engaged in self-initiated writing, the child writer  chose to write about a series of things interconnected by a central theme, the things that he liked most. The series was the only instance in the entire corpus.  He provided  information about the object or situation and described the possible related activities, then expressed what he liked about it, and gave reasons to justify his choice.  There were also  elaborate coloured pictures accompanying the text in four out of the five pieces in the series.  Some of the pictures were used to present the ideas explicitly as those in the text;  others were used to recreate an experience or scene, such as one in which the writer returned to his house to play with his friends after his least favoured animal, the cat, had been chased away. 5.3.4 Non-fiction Writing ‘Non-fiction writing’ was a description of real objects and experience.  There  was only one single piece of such writing, comprising 1.85 percent of the set of home writing samples.  It was written by Elaine, the more able girl.  The piece was a  description of her experience and feelings about reading a book on dinosaurs. in Figure 11, it was a short text made up of two sentences.  As shown  She named the piece  ‘Non-fiction writing’, a term she probably learned in the course of the informational writing project that her class was participating in. expressing her feelings.  The functions were informing and to  The major intent was to convey information on dinosaurs that  she had learned after reading a book on the topic.  The other function was to express her  opinions on the book, and an implied sense of achievement of having finished reading the whole book in the day.  Other than these, there was little personal or social intention for  writing the piece that carried a distinctive academic aurora. The informing function was conveyed more by the use of drawings than written language.  Probably in an attempt to  128  share with her readers what she learned in the book, she drew three dinosaurs and labeled them with their Latin names to accompany her writing.  These line drawings were large,  carefully drawn with bold lines and included some fine details.  When asked about her  reason for writing the piece, the child writer commented, “I read a dinosaur book and it was cool.  Because I like, when I read that book, I came to like dinosaurs.” As for  what she liked about the piece, she said, “The dinosaurs. of the dinosaurs.” She had enjoyed reading the book.  [But] I can’t read any names Although she could not read  their Latin names, she decided to express her joy by writing a piece to describe her experience and to present some of the information she had gained to be recorded and shared with others.  (Transcript)  Non-fiction writing  Today I read the whole book of the dinosaur book. It was cool! Figure 11: Elaine’s non-fiction writing about dinosaurs 5.3.5 Drawings There were only three drawings, constituting 5.56 percent of the home writing samples.  One of them was produced by William, two by Katie, and they were all  descriptions involving imaginative content.  William drew a colourful picture on a small  piece of paper showing a neat little house on an island surrounded by a blue sea.  In  129  front of the house was a lush green lawn with a tall yellow tree, flower beds and shrubs. A caption in a box on the left of the picture says, “This is a picture of a house that live in an island.”  And probably in an attempt to emphasize the location of the house, he drew  a huge out-of-proportion octopus on the back of the paper as an extension of the picture. He could not articulate his reason for his choice of genre, content, and writing purpose. All he said was, “I looked at my drawings a long time ago…A paper, it’s there and I can only find this piece of paper.” His idea for the picture was probably derived from some drawings he had seen and liked.  The child writer took to drawing the house and writing  a caption to explain it in order to satisfy his desire for living near the sea, something a city child or his family might aspire to.  The picture was created for the functions of  expressing, informing, and enjoying. Katie’s descriptive drawing was a picture of four faces showing different expressions which she described as ‘mad’, ‘happy’, ‘a bit shy’, and ‘babyish’. were bold line drawings created with markers in different colours. a blue cloud reads “faces with me”.  They  A caption written in  She said that she got her idea for the drawing from  the art class she attended on Saturdays in a community centre. The teacher told her to copy faces from a book.  After completing that exercise, she drew some faces at home  for fun and wrote a caption about them. between two cartoon characters. culture.  Her second drawing depicted a dialogue  It involved imaginative content taken from popular  As seen in Figure 12, it shows the two cartoon characters engaged in  conversation.  It was a typical picture talk that children incorporated in their texts as  they developed as writers (Chapman, 1995).  Words or phrases were embedded within a  picture to represent speech, translating oral language directly into writing. depicted as talk coming out of a person’s mouth in a speech balloon.  They were  Katie had enjoyed  drawing the piece because she said, “I really like that show.” She really liked her work, saying “It’s so pretty...because they [the characters] are talking like a clown.” The child writer used picture talk to help her describe the characters and their emotions.  This  would otherwise have involved extensive use of words and abstract descriptions which she might not yet have the available linguistic resources for. The major functions for drawing were expressing, interacting, and enjoying, and a secondary one was representing oral language.  130  (Transcript) Drawing “your more like a clown fish: “blabber mouth”  Figure 12: Katie’s drawing (picture talk) of cartoon characters 5.3.6 Greeting Cards Several other genres marked home writing from that of school.  For example,  interactions in which writing was used to communicate with others were not found in the children’s school writing.  However, this genre was in abundance in the home writing  context. Interactions were identified in the form of greeting cards, notes, and diaries. Greeting cards were found in three of the children’s writing samples.  There were six of  them, three by William, one by John, and two by Katie, making up 11.11 percent of the home writing samples.  They were an integration of drawings, coloured pictures, and  messages of different types.  For example, Katie wrote a greeting card to her younger  sister to express her love for her, and another one to a friend who was a cheer leader to show her support.  John’s greeting card was addressed to some cookies, to express how  he liked eating cookies and wished to have some. his friends and a Mother’s Day card to his mother.  William wrote two birthday cards to Simple as they were in language and  discourse, the greeting cards were all crafted for authentic purposes to represent the authors’ emotions and feelings for others.  The major functions were interacting,  expressing and representing oral language, and the supporting function was reasoning.  131  Figure 13 is the single greeting card written by John.  While all the greeting  cards produced by the other focal children were written for a specific intended reader, John’s was addressed to ‘Dear cookies’.  Cookies seemed to be his favourite snack;  there was mentioning of the food in five other instances in his school journals and lists. This unconventional greeting card was very unlike what was normally expected of the genre in terms of content and writing purpose.  Instead of expressing greetings or  extending invitations, John wrote to express his love and appetite for cookies. major functions were expressing and interacting.  The  It was supported by representing oral  language as he spoke directly to the cookies in the second person.  The formal and  lexico-grammatical features were all there, such as the salutation.  It also bore the design  features of a greeting card: the front with a coloured picture, and the card opening up to show the message and more pictures. of the message, though.  He left out the closure and his signature at the end  Instead, he put in a speech bubble “The End” as if he had  Dear cookies, I like to eat cookies. I eat them most of the time and I just looked at the TV. I just see them make cookies. I want to eat them too! But my mom don’t buy cookie much. When you have a cookie, can I have it? I can eat so much cookie that I can just eat a box full of cookies. ‘The End’ Figure 13: John’s greeting card to cookies  132  forgotten that it was a message that required the notation of the sender as well as the receiver.  The genre was selected as a convenient vehicle for conveying his message  encoded in a monologue or greeting addressed to cookies.  The piece of writing showed  the remarkable linguistic and cognitive flexibility of the young child writer picking and blending linguistic resources to fit in with his writing purposes (Gregory, Long, & Volk, 2004). 5.3.7 Notes The child writers also wrote in varying detail about their social interactions with family members in different kinds of situations in the form of notes.  Notes were found  in the two girls’ home writing; Katie wrote one and Elaine wrote three. made up 7.4 percent of the home-based writing. approaches to writing notes.  The four notes  The two girls had quite different  Katie’s note was a message directed at her parents.  It  was written on the back cover of a writing pad announcing her recent achievement – she was now able to brush her teeth and change her clothes without having her parents “yelling” at her.  The piece of writing showed the regularized features of a note, with a  distinct salutation and the use of the prepositions ‘To’ and ‘From’ to denote interaction. Notes were an intelligent way to use written words to represent oral language, and to communicate messages that could be more conveniently conveyed in the written mode. On the other hand, Elaine’s three notes were written for the purpose of ‘noting down’ things in her daily life. descriptions of what she did.  As shown in Transcript 6, they were short and simple Though there was no salutation at all to show whom they  were for, the texts were written for the purpose of communicating to someone about her daily life experiences and her achievements, such as her baby cousin dirtying her pants, making puppets with another cousin, and selling raffle tickets.  She signified the  interactive nature of her note by adopting a colloquial tone as if she was talking to the reader, “If you are lucky, you will win a prize!”  This was reminiscent of the form used  in flyers abundant in the junk mail that the child writer might have seen so often. Writing these notes of her own accord, her intentions were to communicate, to keep records and to make sense of what happened for her, and to share her lived experience with others.  Both of the girls’ notes embodied the major function of interacting, and the  133  secondary functions of ego enhancing, expressing, informing, and representing oral language. April 16, 2005 Today I sell 4 raffle tickets.  Each ticket cost 1 dollar.  I got 4 dollar now.  If you  are lucky, you will win a prize! April 17, 2005 Today my cousin and me were making puppets and I made three puppets. April 22, 2005 Today my cousin poo on his pants, it smell sticky!  Transcript 6: Elaine notes about her daily experiences 5.3.8 Diaries John wrote the two diaries that constituted 3.71 percent of the home writing samples.  Each of them began with the salutation ‘Dear Diary,’ a format he might have  learned at school or in other contexts.  The diaries were basically wish lists in which he  expressed his thoughts and desires that he wanted to materialize in the real world.  He  wrote to communicate his wishes to a fictitious ‘Dear Diary’ and to himself at the same time, consolidating them on paper and giving reasons for them.  The major functions  were expressing, interacting, and anticipating, and secondary functions were reasoning and representing oral language. Figure 14 shows one of the two diaries that John wrote.  He expressed his wishes  for more comic books, chapter books, and Spongebob books, books based on a popular cartoon character that he liked watching on television.  Other than these desires, there  were some less materialistic ones, such as the world becoming warmer so that he could go to his friend’s house more often and play for a longer time.  What was even more  interesting was the coloured picture he drew at the bottom half of the page.  Under a  clear sky, a bright sun and blue clouds, he drew a picture of himself against a background of blue saying “Bye” in bubble speech.  He was leaving his home, a small dark-coloured  house drawn on the left side of the picture, and going to a much larger house with a bright red roof shown on the right.  This was an imaginary scene representing himself 134  waving goodbye to his mom and going to his friend’s house to play, a realization of one of his wishes.  The words ‘Day time’ were written in big letters right in the middle of  the picture and underlined for emphasis.  This was used to signify extended day time as  the world became warmer; there was more sunlight that allowed him to play longer in his friend’s house as he desired.  The picture served not just to decorate the written product  but to illustrate certain parts of the text and to give the reader access to the writer’s inner thoughts and what he could do if his wishes should come true.  When asked about his  reason for writing the piece, John said, “It is about living beside my friend’s house…I like it because maybe the wish can become true.”  (Transcript) Diary Dear diary, I hope I can have more Spongebob books! Also I want a comic books. My friend is going to give me Spider man comic book I wanted it so much. I also want a book that is a chapter book. I want to blow bubbles so it can go anywhere to show the world! The most thing I want is to make the world to be warm so that I can go to my friend’s house so we can play together for a long time. Then I go home to eat my dinner. Figure 14: John’s diary and wish list 5.3.9 Poems Word plays were genres specific to the children’s home writing. found in the form of poems and jokes.  They were  They were all written by the two girls.  boys did not show any tendency for literary creation at all. percent of the total home writing samples.  The  Poems comprised 11.11  The girls chose a poetic form to express their  feelings about things of nature and play, with descriptions of imaginative objects or real  135  experiences.  For example, Elaine wrote a poem about fantasy events based on a  familiar nursery rhyme, substituting some of the words to create a poem of her own.  In  comparison, Katie’s poems showed more sophisticated formal features of poetry: her pieces came with a title and the sentences were written in separate lines to form a stanza. The two girls demonstrated knowledge of the special features of a poem, and how they could match genre with the topic, content and functions when writing one. Representing written language, enjoying, and ego enhancing were the major functions, and expressing and imagining, both fantasy and fiction, were the secondary ones. The following poem (7) was written by Katie, a short but highly creative and original rhyme.  In this simple verse, the child writer celebrated the marvel of nature and  presented herself as the master of the scene as she drank in its beauty.  It has a distinct  rhythmic pattern and content focus, much unlike the limericks that some young children write for the pure rhyming sounds of the lines. Flakes I’ll eat a flake I’ll drink at the lake I am the master But don’t go too faster.  Transcript 7: Katie’s fantasy poem about snow flakes 5.3.10 Jokes Jokes were another form of word play in the home writing samples.  There were  five of them, all written by Elaine, making up 9.26 percent of the home-based writing. The child writer named them jokes but they were actually riddles.  She wrote them in  dialogue form, one party asking a tricky question and another to answer and guess at the solution.  The major writing functions for all these five jokes or riddles were enjoying  and ego enhancing.  The person who wrote or gave the riddle possessed some  knowledge or trick that the guesser did not have.  The child writer struck out an identity  for herself as the ‘knower’ destined to enlighten and entertain others at the same time. A secondary function was informing, to pass on information that the guesser might not 136  have thought of before. not able to specify.  But when asked the purpose for writing jokes, the writer was  She said she just wrote them.  As for the source of the ideas, some  of them were her own creations while others were learned from friends or books she read. She probably also borrowed the design layout for supplying the answer to the riddle from printed riddles. position.  She hid them from immediate sighting by writing them in an inverted  Figure 15 shows two of her jokes she enjoyed so much in writing. (Transcript)  Jokes  What do you say to a one year old frog? (‘happy birthday’ written upside down) What did the math book said to the other math book? (‘have any problems?’ written upside down)  Figure 15: Elaine’s jokes (riddles) about a frog and math books 5.3.11 Summary of Findings in Home Writing The children’s home writing displayed different patterns in genre as reflected in the following summary of findings. writing samples.  Ten specific genres were identified in the home  When engaged in voluntary writing at home, the children wrote in all  the four different categories, producing genres in interactions and word plays as well as chronologies and descriptions.  Besides stories and journals, the children produced  descriptions of ‘my favourite things’, non-fiction writing, drawings, greeting cards, notes, diaries, poems, and jokes.  The stories included both chronologies and descriptions  unlike the school stories which were all chronological. either experiential ones or fantasies.  The chronological stories were  As for the descriptive stories, there were both  realistic and fantasy ones.  Journals, the most frequent genre in the set, were all  experiential chronologies.  The reasons for the children’s preference for chronological  writing in free choice school writing discussed above also applied here.  It should also  137  be noted that fictional writing was not found at all in the home writing samples; the children were more inclined to write about real life experiences or situations, or, on the other extreme, highly imaginative fantasies. The children’s descriptive writing encompassed a wide range of topics, ranging from favourite objects and situations, an Ethiopian living environment, to scientific content. Some of them were in the form of drawings using both visual and verbal symbols to make meaning.  These included representations of favourite cartoon  characters, funny faces and a dream house. convey their aspirations and wishes.  The children used descriptive writing to  They often coupled text with images to make up  for the lack of adequate language resources needed for elaborate or abstract descriptions that they cognitively aspired to but were linguistically not yet ready for.  Another  possible reason might be their aspirations for artistic creation with lines, shapes, and colours to enrich their written artifacts. Interactions and word plays distinguished home writing from school writing strikingly.  The children produced a variety of text types in these two categories.  Embodying an individual voice and personal thoughts, they were much more effective than the journals and stories that they wrote at home. cards, notes, and diaries.  Interactions included greeting  Whether they were written explicitly for an intended reader or  not, the texts were messages meant to be recorded, communicated to or shared with an audience.  Word plays were realized in the form of poems and jokes.  Such writing  depicted a sociocultural as well as literal use of language to provide fun, entertainment and self-aggrandizement.  Writing in the various categories of genres, the children  fulfilled a fundamental purpose for writing which “has to do with wanting to appear competent - knowledgeable about the social world conventions of writing, and yet wanting to say something special, unique, and will be judged valuable by others” (Dyson 1988, p. 246). 5.4 Discussion of findings 5.4.1 Difference in the Variety of Genres between the School and the Home Settings A major finding of the study was the diversity and richness of multiple genres in the home context. The children’s more variable use of genres in the home writing samples could be related to their functions for writing.  In composing out of school, the  138  children were writing for themselves; they made a writing task their own and invested it with their personal interests, conceptions, and beliefs.  The primacy of purpose (Swales,  1990) was just as relevant for these second language children as for college students engaged in written academic discourse.  Writing on a self-initiated basis, the children  wrote to fulfill a real purpose like what they observed their parents and other adults did, and definitely not to practice writing or the English language (Taylor, 1982). The social contexts outside the classroom generated a wide range of purposes and motivation for writing.  Social purposes were the driving forces that determined writers’  selection of genres when composing (Clark & Ivanič, 1997).  The children produced  more varied and extended written language than when they were writing in school, such as creating poems from familiar ones and elaborating on their wishes.  The findings  about the children’s home writing were in line with those reported by Yi (2007) from her study of a biliterate adolescent’s composing practices out of school.  Despite the  differences in age, ethnic and linguistic background, the focal children in the study exhibited similar patterns in their writing practices at home: they engaged in a variety of composing activities in multiple contexts, with multiple text genres for multiple purposes. Similar to the third-grade children in the study by McGinley and Kamberelis (1993), these second graders wrote for a variety of purposes.  They created texts that have  personal symbolic or affective significance for them to savor or recall individual experiences or events.  The children’s writing functions, genres, and content reflected  “their interests, needs and issues most central to their individual sensibilities and life histories” (p. 1). In the course of writing, the children engaged in a process of self-representation and self-discovery.  Writing out-of-school, they examined their home and social lives  across the many contexts that constituted their mental world.  They wanted to express  their interest in the other participants in the community, a desire to be part of the social structure, and to be accepted and admired by others (Dyson, 1988. 1989).  They wrote to  affirm social relationships with their family members and friends, explore their power relationships with them, and adopt certain power positions within particular social formations (Dyson, 1989).  For instance, with the use of notes, greeting cards, and  diaries, they liaised with an intended audience to express their feelings and concerns,  139  while choosing an appropriate genre to match their purpose for writing and framing their ideas within the specific discourse pattern.  Their diaries, drawings, and descriptions of  favourite things were self-revelations of their perceptions of what they were and a particular identity that they would like to assume.  In their non-fiction writing, poems  and jokes, the child writers displayed their knowledge, capabilities, and sophisticated textual engagement in particular areas, to frame an authorial self as an owner of information and creativeness. (Vygotsky, 1978).  Their stories were creations of imaginary situations  And imaginary as they were, they were derived from real life  situations; the children infused their intentions, fears and desires in their stories, an attempt to transcend situational constraints through the use of language.  Their journals  were all experiential writing providing snapshots of lived experiences that had particular meaning for them.  They reflected the children’s awareness of social power positions,  the meanings of social actions and the consequences of such.  As inferred from the  children’s comments on the texts they produced, they made conscious and willful choice of language and genre in their writing (Dyson, 1997; Vygotsky, 1978). They decided on what to write and how to write with regard to purpose, function, genre, content, and the use of verbal and visual symbols.  Through writing, they strove to rise above the  constraints of daily life, to foster a sense of belonging in their social world among their cultural as well as the mainstream community.  To achieve such goals, the children had  spent a lot of their “intellectual and social energy trying to figure out how to position themselves among others in the world” (Dyson, 1997, p. 12). 5.4.2 Genres and Social Contexts The written texts reflected the impact of literacy activities in the children’s daily life in and beyond school.  As they searched for a sense of self, the children listened to  and appropriated the voices of adults around them, their functions for writing, and the linguistic resources and conventions they used for achieving them.  They observed and  appropriated their parents’ use of written language, Chinese or English, for different daily personal and social purposes: for memory aid, management of daily routines, establishing and maintaining social relationships, and recreation.  Being junior members of the  family, they did not participate in translations for their parents or family writing activities  140  that involved literacy as reported in related previous studies (e.g., Moll & Diaz, 1987). Rather, they wrote for themselves, for personal, social, and recreational purposes. The children’s writing also served “mimetic” functions as reported in literature on related research (e.g., Heath,1983; Hudson,1986). According to McGinley and Kamberelis (1993), mimetic writing involves “modeling the voices, styles, and genre characteristics of other writers” (p. 5), or published authors that they admired or respected.  These researchers likened such appropriation to a child putting on her  mother’s clothing and approximating her speech style.  Such modeling should not be  seen as passive imitation or copying from models, but rather as active processes initiated by the children involving discursive experimentation.  From a sociocultural perspective,  the genres the children wrote in were related to those embedded in their literacy environment.  The genres in their home writing samples should be identifiable in their  classroom writing, but for some reasons they were not.  They might have been  constructed by themselves or appropriated from stories, fairy tales and other print media that they read in school or at home.  The issue of intertextuality is outside the scope of  the present study, but it should be noted that the children showed resourcefulness and creativity in their construction and appropriation of genres from academic discourse, pleasure reading, and popular culture.  Elaine’s non-fiction writing was reflective of  how a child writer adopted design features, layout, and use of images from the informational books that she read in class or at home.  The other genres in the home  writing samples that were not found in their school writing could well be an interaction of their home literacy practices and multimedia in either setting.  For instance, the diary  could not be found in the children’s school-based writing during or prior to the data collection period.  The child writer, John, was not able to explain the source or the  rationale for the choice of the particular genre.  A possible explanation was that he  observed his parents writing a diary, or even more likely, he could have encountered it in his reading.  What was impressive was not just the genre and the formal features that he  appropriated but also the functions a diary is usually employed by writers more capable and sophisticated than a second grader.  This phenomenon has been reported by children  literacy scholars, for example, Duff (2002a), and Smith and Hiles (2006) who contend  141  that children develop their genre sense by borrowing their conceptions of genre from texts and other media. 5.4.3 Children’s Genre Knowledge Social contexts provide not only purposes for writing but also input and practice with writing conventions.  Children develop their genre awareness early on before they  start school (Donovan, 2001).  Literacy instruction in school imbues them with  knowledge and understandings of written genres.  This could also be internalized from  their reading and writing experiences (Vygotsky, 1978), and appropriated from their discourse community.  Second language children living in western communities have  always been surrounded by different kinds of print media in their home in both English and Chinese (Chang, 1998).  They construct their genre knowledge from the English  language texts they encounter in their social worlds, and their writing is a response to their literacy environment (Chapman, 1995). Such development of genre was observed in the focal children as reflected in their text production.  Their emergent knowledge of genre was displayed in three aspects.  Firstly, they possessed a certain repertoire of genres which they acquired in their school literacy instruction and home literacy experiences and activities as shown in their self-initiated writing.  Although they were second language children, their writing  showed that they had considerable implicit knowledge of the different kinds of genres as they traversed from one to another for individual expression and social communication. Secondly, the children showed awareness of the use of specific genres for particular social contexts and writing purposes.  They had categorized and labeled the genres of  their home writing samples appropriately, demonstrating their capability in matching textual form with purpose, context, and content, such as writing a note to communicate information.  Thirdly, they had knowledge and understandings of the syntactic and  textual features and design layouts in genre conventions, for instance, the denotation in a note to indicate the sender and the receiver of the message.  The genre elements of, for  example, a greeting card, were well incorporated: the salutation, the greeting, and a pictorial component to convey or supplement the message.  The child writers also  showed awareness of how to match lexico-grammatical features with the particular genre, such as the use of present tense verbs to describe feelings and relationships.  142  The children had at their disposal a repertoire of text types for meeting various writing demands. home settings.  But their practice of genre was different between the school and the  When writing out-of-school, they used it as linguistic and cultural  resources; genres were specific textual forms for making literacy responses to social contexts.  Armed with such awareness and understanding, they moved smoothly and  freely among multiple genres as they composed at home.  Had the children not been  feeling competent and comfortable with the use and features of different types of writing, they would not have invested so much time and energy engaging in the many different genres.  They were familiar with genres commonly found in the school discourse, such  as stories and journals.  But they also ventured to try out new genres outside school, or  even invented new ones.  Their creativeness was an indication of their abiding interest  in composing.  They showed diversity and intricacy in their composing practices that  were quite different when they were writing on assignments in the school context. Where the choice of function, form, context, and sometimes even content, had been made for them, their writing was less inclusive in genre and topic.  They followed instructions  and wrote in accordance with the conventions of particular genres, such as fantasy stories and descriptive journals.  However, the child writers were not constructing meaning  with their own writing intentions and materials through genres in the way that form follows function (Halliday, 1978). Although prescriptive in limiting the children’s production of genres, the school writing curriculum had a definite role to play in achieving specific educational goals. Programmed to facilitate students’ literacy development and learning of subject content, the writing tasks in the classroom manifested institutionalized programme planning by the language arts department in the school, and systematic preparation and implementation on the part of the teacher.  The writing activities were structured around  thematic projects or units, providing a series of related writing practices for the students spanning across different genres.  For example, as part of the class study unit on insects,  the children wrote an imaginary fantasy story in which they imagined themselves being shrunk to the size of an ant.  A related writing task was a descriptive journal titled ‘If I  were an insect.’ The children had to choose a particular insect, describe it and justify the choice.  This was followed by a related task in which the children described the most  143  amazing bug they had ever seen.  Though the texts were imaginary, the children had to  make use of the factual knowledge they had learned about the names and features of the different body parts of an insect. in the community.  Another instance was the class project on social issues  The children wrote a story on an encounter with the poor or  homeless people in the community.  Then they drew up a list of the wonderful things  about their community and ways they thought would make it even better. There was both factual and evaluative writing.  The tasks provided not only the practice of  language and writing skills but also the consolidation of knowledge, and exercise of critical thinking skills and reflection, intertwining academic learning with realistic daily life events and imagination.  Home writing, produced on a self-initiated basis with free  choice of genre and topic, was not able to bring about such structured and comprehensive literacy learning without the teacher’s scaffolding.  While school writing merited in  being systematic, home writing excelled in authenticity, personalized and inclusive by embracing a wider spectrum of social contexts and writing purposes. 5.4.4 Conclusions A comparison of genres between the two settings bore witness to the children’s diverse composing activities at home as found in Yi’s (2007) study; they engaged in a large amount of writing that was “comprehensive and inclusive in nature” (p. 30).  In  their school-based writing, there was greater variation within each of the genres than in the home-based texts, for example, chronologies included fantasy, fictional, and experiential writing, and descriptions encompassed both fantasy and realistic content. However, in their self-initiated writing, the children composed in a greater variety of genre categories that indicated more extensive ways of interpreting and representing their personal and social worlds.  They produced chronologies and descriptions of their  personal experiences and imaginations, interactions to explore their social positions, and word plays to play with words and ideas. attached to their writing outside of school.  Moreover, there was a seriousness of purpose They invested more time and effort as shown  in the greater number and variety of functions enacted that reflected their interests, needs, and issues that were central to them as individuals.  They enriched their work with use  of images and language to represent speech, showing sustained creativity and dexterity in their social dialogue with texts.  Compared with the first-grade children in Chapman’s  144  (1995) study, these second graders showed more sophistication in their use of genres for achieving particular communicative functions.  They demonstrated a wider range of  basic and immediate forms of social relationships, such as notes and greeting cards for interactions other than narratives, as they approximated mature genre forms in their social dialogue with texts both in school and at home.  These findings are encouraging, since  acquiring genre knowledge is an important educational goal that will empower children for adult life in academic and professional contexts (Hyland, 2003).  The data analyses  have shown how these second language children demonstrated their developing awareness of genre elements, organizational structures as well as the functions of writing. Each child writer incorporated and constructed his or her notions of what writing was about from literacy experiences, a topic to be dealt with in the following chapter.  145  Chapter 6 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION (3): FUNCTIONS OF GENRES IN SCHOOL AND AT HOME This chapter presents findings and discussions on the second phase of the functional analysis that focused on the distribution of specific functions within particular genres in school and at home.  In answer to Research Question 3 on how children  constructed meaning with writing functions and genres, the following analyses were made.  First of all, frequency counts of the functions enacted in particular genres in the  two sets of writing samples as a group and at an individual level are calculated.  The  figures are then compared to show the overall as well as individual variation in the children’s enactment of functions in relation to genres between school writing and home writing.  Secondly, the relationships between categories of writing functions, personal,  social, recreational, and learning, and specific genres or genre groups, such as stories, journals, and interactions are analyzed and compared across the settings.  The  percentage of the various categories of functions show how certain categories of functions are more frequent than others in particular genres, and how this differ for the same genre between one setting and another.  Thirdly, individual profiles of the case  study children are set up to illustrate their choice of genres and the unique ways in which they enacted multiple functions to serve interrelated writing goals in the two settings. 6.1 Functions of genres in school writing and home writing It has been pointed out in Chapter 4 that the children in general enacted more functions in their home writing than in their school writing, a home mean of 2.91 versus a school mean of 2.16 (Table 3).  A comparison of the enactment of functions in specific  genres in the two settings will provide insights into how the individual children evoked functions when engaged in different types of writing in different contexts. 6.1.1 Frequency of Functions of Individual Genres in School Writing There was not much diversity in the frequency of functions in individual genres in the school setting.  As seen in Table 9, journals carried the greatest number of functions  with an average of 2.29 functions per text.  They were followed by stories (2.07), and  146  Table 9: Frequency of functions of individual genres in school writing School mean: 2.16 Elaine {1.93} Katie {2.06} John {2.22} William {2.44} Total  Journal (2.29) 1.88 2.11 2.44 2.56  [8] [9] [9] [9] [35]  Story (2.07) 2 2 1.75 2.67  [3] [5] [4] [3] [15]  List (2) 2 2 2.2 1.75  [4] [4] [5] [4] [17]  Total no. of text [15] [18] [18] [16] [67]  ( ) Overall average number of functions { } Personal average number of functions across all genres [ ] Number of texts then lists (2), where the mean of functions for school writing in general was 2.16 (Table 3, Chapter 4). The journal was not only the most frequent genre in both settings (Table 5 and Table 6, Chapter 5) but also the genre with the highest frequency of functions in school writing.  The focal children wrote more or less the same number of texts in each  of the three genres, but there was more individual variation in the frequency of functions for stories than for the other two genres; the frequency counts ranged from 1.75 for John to 2.67 for William, showing a difference of 0.92 functions.  The diversity was smallest  for lists, a difference of only 0.45 functions between the highest frequency (2.2) and the lowest one (1.75).  It should be noted that, being regulated by instructions and  requirements for the writing tasks, the lengths of the texts produced by the individual children did not show much difference except for John who wrote longer texts than the other children in general.  It seems that the amount of control rather than the length of  texts was more pivotal in the diversity of functions. The number of functions enacted by the individual children did not particularly relate to their writing ability.  Of the four participants, Elaine and John were considered  high in terms of writing abilities while Katie and William were average, according to their classroom teacher.  With reference to Table 9, Elaine, the high ability girl, did not  enact functions more frequently in any of the three types of writing than Katie who was deemed only average in writing performance.  In fact, when writing journals, Katie  incorporated more functions than Elaine for each piece of entry, 2.11 versus 1.88.  As  for the boys, John evoked more functions than the girls in journals and the most functions amongst all in lists.  William in general wrote in smaller quantity and fairly shorter texts 147  than John, the most prolific writer among the four. But he had a much higher personal average number of functions than the other three children for stories (2.67) and journals (2.56).  The same situation was found in the personal average number of frequencies  across all the three genres: the ranking was deviant from the teacher’s assessment of the children’s individual writing ability.  As shown in Table 9, William ranked first (2.44)  and John came next (2.22), with Karen the third (2.06), and Elaine the last (1.93). 6.1.2 Frequency of Functions of Individual Genres in Home Writing While considerable uniformity was found in the children’s school writing in the variety of genres and the number of pieces produced in each (Table 9), the pattern was quite different in the home setting.  As shown in Table 10, the range of genres and the  number of pieces in each of them varied significantly among the four focal children. Diaries scored the highest frequency of functions, with 5.0 functions on average.  This  was followed by descriptions of ‘my favourite things’, greeting cards, notes, poems, and jokes all of which had frequency counts higher than the mean of functions for home writing, namely, 2.91 (Table 3, Chapter 4).  The genres with frequency counts lower  than the mean of home writing were drawings, journals, stories, and non-fiction writing. There was also considerable individual variation in the children’s enactment of functions in journals, the only genre that all of them wrote in.  Interestingly, journals had the  greatest individual variation among all the home genres, ranging from 5.0 functions for William to 2.5 for all the other children.  The smallest diversity was found in stories,  where both Elaine and John enacted 2.0 functions in each of their stories on average.  In  terms of personal averages across all genres in home-based writing, William again took the lead as in the school setting, averaging 3.4 functions per piece of writing.  Katie (3.1)  came second, with John (3.0) and Elaine (2.58) in tow. The only difference between the two settings was John and Katie switching for the second and third position in the home setting.  William remained first and Elaine last in both settings.  But it should be  noted that the Karen and John’s personal average number across all genres differed by only 0.1 functions in the home setting which was minimal.  148  -  [2]  3.4 -  -  [5]  [5]  ‘My favourite things’ (3.4) -  3.33  4  3  -  [6]  [3]  [1]  [2]  Greeting card (3.33)  5  -  -  [4]  [1]  2.67 [3]  Note (3.25)  E: K: J: W:  Elaine Katie John William  -  -  [6]  3.33 [3]  2.67 [3]  Poem (3)  ( ) Overall average number of functions { } Personal average number of functions across all genres [ ] Number of texts  Total  W {3.4}  [2]  -  K {3.1}  5  -  E {2.58}  J {3.0}  Diary (5)  Home mean: 2.91  Table 10: Frequency of functions of individual genres in home writing  149  3  -  -  -  [5]  [5]  Joke (3)  3  2.5 -  -  [3]  [1]  [2]  Drawing (2.67)  5  2.5  2.5  2.5  [15]  [1]  [8]  [2]  [4]  Journal (2.67)  2  2  -  -  [7]  [4]  [3]  Story (2)  -  -  -  2  [1]  [1]  Non-fiction writing (2)  [54]  [5]  [20]  [10]  [19]  Total no. of text  6.1.3 Differences in the Frequency of Functions of Individual Genres between School and Home Writing The children in general enacted more functions in their home writing than in their school writing, a home mean of 2.91 versus a school mean of 2.16 (Table 3, Chapter 4). Likewise on a personal basis, the average number of functions across all genres in home writing for each of the four children consistently exceeded the school equivalents.  For  example, by comparing the figures in Table 9 and Table 10, it can be seen that Elaine’s personal average in the school setting for all genres was 1.93 functions where her home equivalent was 2.58. The difference in the frequency of functions enacted between the two settings could best be illustrated by comparing the overall and personal average number of functions in genres that were common to both settings, namely, journals and stories. With reference to Table 9, the overall average number of functions in school journals was 2.29, but for the home setting, it was 2.67 as seen in Table 10.  The figures indicate  that more functions were enacted on average in home-based journals than in school-based journals.  And this was consistently the same for all four children on an  individual basis, as seen by comparing figures from Table 10 (home setting) with those from Table 9 (school setting) for journals: 2.5 versus 1.88 for Elaine, 2.5 versus 2.11 for Katie, 2.5 versus 2.44 for John, and 5.0 versus 2.56 for William.  However, when it  came to writing stories at home, the children evoked fewer functions than they did in school in general.  The overall average number of 2.0 functions for home stories was  below the school equivalent of 2.07. 6.1.4 Categories of Functions of Genres in School Writing and Home Writing In the analysis of the distribution of writing functions among the various genres, certain relationships could be found between the categories of functions and specific genres or types of genres in both the school and the home setting.  For such analysis,  certain genres in the home setting were grouped together just as in the analysis of their frequency and distribution in Chapter 5.  For example, descriptions of my favourite  things, non-fiction writing, and drawings were grouped together as descriptions.  The  same applied to interactions and word plays.  150  Table 11 shows the percentages of the different categories of functions identified in the children’s writing samples in the two settings within specific genres or genre groups. The function categories were personal, social, recreational, and learning as analyzed in Chapter 4 (Table 4).  It can be seen from Table 11 that specific genres were  more closely associated with particular categories of functions than with others. School-based stories carried more recreational than social and personal functions because of the imaginary nature of the content.  The recreational functions assumed  38.72 percent of the total instances of functions in school stories.  In contrast, the  functions in the home-based stories were dominantly personal in nature; personal functions made up more than half of the functions (57.14 percent).  Journals in both  settings were marked by the prevalence of personal functions, 61.25 percent for the school setting, and 80 percent for the home.  Social functions ranked second for both  sets of journals; they assumed 35 percent in the school setting and 20 percent in the home setting.  As for lists, social functions were more frequent than the other categories,  making up 35.3 percent of the total instances of functions coded in the genre.  Their  relatively high frequency was probably due to the informational nature of some of the worksheet exercises.  Ranking second in lists were recreational functions and learning  functions both of which took up 23.53 percent of the total instances of functions coded. The high percentage of recreational functions in lists could be ascribed to the fictional content of some of the writing practice. only 17.64 percent of the total.  Personal functions came last in lists assuming  The percentage of the learning function for lists was the  highest among the three school genres; it was 23.53 percent as opposed to 12.9 percent for stories and 2.5 percent for journals. For home-specific genres, the functions in descriptions were divided between personal and social functions, the former taking up 59.26 percent while the latter 40.74 percent. ones.  The functions in interactions were also shared between social and personal  In this genre group, the social functions were overwhelmingly dominant; they  comprised 60.47 percent of the total instances of functions coded in the interactive genres. Personal functions (39.53 percent) made up the rest of the functions.  As for word plays,  personal functions were pervasive; they assumed 63.64 percent of the total.  The rest  151  57.14 14.29 28.57 -  19.35  29.03  38.72  12.9  100%  Personal  Social  Re-creati onal Learning  Total  [  [7]  [15]  100%  2.5  1.25  35.0  61.25  [35]  Journals (school)  100%  -  -  20  80  [15]  Journals (home)  ]: number of texts in the particular genre or type of genres  100%  Stories (home)  Stories (school)  Category of functions  100%  23.53  23.53  35.3  17.64  [17]  Lists (school)  100%  -  -  40.74  59.26  Descriptions (home): ‘my favourite things’, non-fiction writing, drawings [9]  Table 11: Percentages of categories of functions of genres in school writing and home writing  152  100%  -  -  60.47  39.53  [12]  Interactions (home): greeting cards, notes, diaries  100%  -  21.21  15.15  63.64  [11]  Word plays (home): poems, jokes  were recreational functions and social functions, assuming 21.21 percent and 15.15 percent respectively. 6.1.5 Summary of Findings The descriptive statistical analysis of the frequency of functions in specific genres shows differential enactment of functions in relation to genres in both settings.  In the  school context, journals had the greatest average number of functions among the three genres, followed by stories, and then lists.  Within the ten genres identified in the home  setting, some of them carried more functions than the others.  Two characteristics were  found in these genres: they were specific to the home setting and were either interactive or expressive in nature, or even both in certain cases.  Home-based journals and stories  were among those with the lowest frequency counts that fell below the mean of functions for home writing in general.  With regard to genres common to both settings, namely,  stories and journals, the children enacted more functions when writing stories in school than at home in general.  But it was the other way round for journals which carried more  functions in the home setting than in school for all the children alike, although its ranking was low among the other home genres. On a personal basis, there was more individual variation among the four children in the frequency of functions they enacted in specific genres in the home setting than in school.  The personal average number of functions across all genres in the home-based  texts was greater than the school equivalent for each of the four children.  With regard  to individual ranking in their enactment of functions across all genres, the order was almost the same for both settings.  The average ability boy enacted the most functions  on average and the high ability girl the least. The analysis of specific functions in genres shows differential association of particular categories of functions with specific genres or types of genres in both settings. Journals, home-based stories, descriptions, and word-plays evoked more personal functions than social and recreational ones. percentage of social functions in them.  Interactions were noted for the high  About a third of the functions in lists were  social functions, followed by learning and recreational ones.  School-based stories  were more closely associated with recreational functions than with other categories. Personal functions had the greatest percentage in the home-based journals, followed by  153  word plays, school-based journals, descriptions, and home-based stories.  Social  functions were most dominant in interactions, then descriptions, lists and school-based journals.  The proportion of recreational functions was highest in school-based stories,  followed by home-based stories, lists and word plays.  The learning function was more  prominent in lists than stories or journals in the school setting. 6.1.6 Discussion of Findings Relationships between functions and genres The findings suggest that the frequency and the category of functions in a piece of writing were related to the particular genre of a text, the nature of the genre, the amount of freedom the child writer had when composing, and the amount of appeal the genre might have to a given writer.  In the present study, some genres seemed more disposed  for conveying a greater number of functions than others, for example, a note as compared with a story.  And some genres were more likely to evoke certain categories of  functions than others, for instance, social as opposed to recreational functions in interactions. The finding that the highest ranking school genre in terms of functions was the journal was not at all surprising.  Being personal entries of daily experiences and  activities, the genre provided a ready and open communication vehicle for realizing a wide range of writing functions.  A more contributing factor might be the relative  amount of freedom the children enjoyed in writing some of the journals even as school assignments.  There being less restriction on the language and discourse than the other  school-based genres, the writer could freely use the journal to achieve any perceivable writing purpose.  It was a site for expression of feelings and emotions, reflections as  well as recording of activities and events.  This was revealed by the high frequency of  personal and social functions in them. In the home setting, journals were also very closely associated with personal functions which assumed a large majority of the functions embodied in them.  However,  in terms of the frequency of functions as compared with the other home-based genres, the journals did not evoke as many or as wide a variety of writing functions as might be expected.  No recreational functions were included.  to write journals in their self-initiated writing.  All the four focal children chose  Their familiarity with the writing  154  purposes and structural features of the genre, in addition to its openness and versatility, should have accorded it a greater number of functions than other genres in the home as well as in the school writing context. reasons.  The present situation might be explained by two  Firstly, the children wrote a lot of journals as school assignments and, as a  result, had habitually associated the genre with a specific selection of functions.  The  children’s view of journals for realising personal and social writing purposes was thus somewhat restricted.  In fact, both sets of journals manifested more or less the same  group of personal functions, namely, expressing, referring to experience, and reasoning. Secondly, the children, when given the freedom to write in any genre as they saw appropriate to their writing intentions, would want to venture to other less ‘explored’ territories, that is, genres that they did not often practise writing in school.  They tried  their hand at these ‘new’ text forms, together with their social and cultural underpinnings, to make sense of and give expression to the lived experiences of their choice. School-based stories seemed more restricted in their conveyance of functions than journals in terms of frequency and capacity for personal expression.  Story writing  assumed a dominant role in the writing classroom; creating stories seemed a major activity to achieve pre-determined learning goals, such as imaginary writing.  Most of  the stories produced by all the four children were written to prompts assigned by the teacher.  Writing with prescribed topics and following the teacher’s instructional agenda,  the children seemed left with relatively little room or motivation to evoke functions in personal ways when creating stories.  Moreover, they were all fantasies that might have  been too culturally distant from the children’s lived experiences as discussed in Chapter 4. They had not much appeal to them as a tool for personal expression and making sense of their world.  This explains the dominance of recreational over social or personal  functions in them.  Even for stories created on a free choice writing basis, the functions  were limited to imagining-fiction and representing oral language. The narratives tended to follow a certain pattern in accordance with the story grammar the children were often exposed to in school or at home. The low frequency of functions in home-based stories was also quite unexpected. One possible explanation for this might be that for these children, stories seemed closely aligned with classroom learning where story writing seemed dominated by imaginary  155  chronologies, fantasy or fiction.  When writing on their own at home, they significantly  used them for personal expression, as illustrated by the dominance of personal functions in them.  However, the small number of home-based stories produced and their  relatively low frequency of functions suggest that in voluntary writing the children did not seem to care much about writing stories that they had written in abundance in the language arts programme.  The explanations for the low score of functions for home  journals could be applied to this genre.  Stories and journals were hence less appealing  to the children when writing on a self-initiated basis. much capacity for expression.  They did not accord them that  Neither did they work on them with as much rigor as  they did with the other genres that they seldom had the chance of working on in school. When physically and emotionally away from an instructional setting, they seized upon the opportunity to try out different types of writing as they manoeuvred the world of composing on their own. The frequency and category of functions in particular context specific genres were significant.  The lists used for classroom writing practice carried the least number of  functions on average; these were mostly recreational in nature and the learning function was also prominent.  In the home setting, certain genres stood out from the rest and  carried more functions than the others.  As pointed out previously, those genres with  high frequencies of functions bore two common features: they were specific to the home setting, and they were interactive or expressive in nature, and in some cases both.  This  finding could be explained by the relationship between the nature of the specific genres and the range and characteristics of the functions they carried.  The interactions were  predominantly associated with social functions while descriptions and word plays were heavily imbued with personal functions for expression and enjoyment.  For example,  greeting cards and notes (interactions) were used for conveying greetings and messages in social discourse; they carried interpersonal as well as ideational meaning to affirm or transform relationships with an intended audience.  The descriptions of ‘my favourite  things’ (descriptions) were highly expressive of the writer’s opinions, feelings, and aspirations.  As for poems (word plays), they were literary forms designed for  expression of emotions and feelings.  The jokes were actually riddles in disguise, and  were written to entertain self and others.  156  Besides home-based journals and stories, certain descriptive genres in the home setting were low in frequency of functions.  For non-fiction writing, there was only one  sample and it was a straightforward piece imparting information and expressing opinions. The child writer might have aligned the type of writing with functions that were informational and academic in nature and no others. lowest ranking genre in the home setting.  Drawings was also among the  While all four children included drawings and  pictures in their texts to varying degrees, only the average ability boy and girl included drawings as a genre by itself in their writing samples.  Kindergarteners and first graders  in general showed a general disposition to drawing pictures to provide a context for their writing, to communicate ideas, and to support the flow of ideas in their early exploration of the use of written language (Bissex, 1980; DuCharme, 1991; Dyson, 1983, 1988). Vygotsky (1978) argues that using drawing and writing with make-believe play could be perceived as different points in the process of language development.  While young  children look at both writing and drawing as direct semiotic systems in which meaning is embedded, older ones would gradually move towards the use of text for realizing meaning.  The group of second graders in the present study could well be in a  transitional stage where they learned to compose using print as the major medium and visuals for a supporting role. Relationships between the frequency of functions and writing ability Another significant finding from the descriptive analysis is that a child writer’s enactment of functions for serving personal and social purposes might not be directly related to his or her writing ability as assessed by classroom writing performance.  The  ranking of the individual children in their enactment of functions across the genres in both settings gave evidence of this.  Academic and language ability might not play so  much a role as other factors in the enactment of functions for these second language children. Many issues are involved in the making of meaning using written language.  For  a developing writer and a second language learner, the symbolising systems of the language have first to be dealt with - the use of graphophonic, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic cues to represent meaning.  But according to Halliday (1978), how language  makes meaning within these systems at a given time is further determined by the social  157  context. This in turn contains three variables – the field, the tenor, and the mode of the writing activity.  Every act of writing carries an ideational purpose to convey a message,  and an interpersonal purpose to define or negotiate relationships between the writer and the reader(s).  But what purposes are generated depends on the determinants of language  use and development: field, tenor, and mode. When applied to the present study, the concepts of field, tenor, and mode highlight the differences between the school and the home setting.  In school, the field  of writing is defined by the instructional setting and the ongoing learning activities in the classroom; these set the thematic, linguistic and social content and the directions of writing activities.  At home, the situation is different in that the writing act is embedded  in the social and cultural discourse of the family and that of the community that often cast their influence on the home.  This affects the activities of the writer and the choice of  subject-matter for writing in the setting.  The structure of the tenor at school is  composed of teachers, other children, and non-teaching staff members.  At home, there  is tenor between the writer and the members of the family that include parents, siblings, grand-parents, pets, and friends and community members as well. with others as well as the social structure of the tenor are different.  The emotional ties The mode of  symbolic interaction at school is usually governed by the nature and the type of writing activities assigned, including the choice of writing materials and surfaces in terms of size and shape.  It also pertains to the semiotic systems to be employed, although the use of  linguistic text, images, and design features may be less prescriptive than other aspects of writing, such as topic and genre.  As compared with the classroom, the home as a social  context often allows more freedom and personal space for children to experiment with different modes of presentation in terms of variety and combination. The categories of field, tenor, and mode collectively serve to predict text (Halliday, 1978).  As they determine the writer’s purposes of the writing act, they also  act upon the functions to be fulfilled to achieve the purposes.  The enactment of  functions, in terms of frequency, variety, and appropriateness, is hence reflective of a child writer’s social responses to the field in a writing act, the structure of the tenor that he/she wants to negotiate or confirm, and the availability or freedom in the choice of mode to represent meaning.  In the present study, these factors seemed more influential  158  than a child writer’s language proficiency or general writing ability as assessed by the teacher based on a less than comprehensive impression of their writing performance manifested in instruction-oriented writing. The writer’s agenda in school and at home The findings about the frequency of functions, and in particular the categories of functions in specific genres, point to the fact that the enactment of functions in writing is a nexus of the issues that a writer is focusing on at the moment, and his/her understanding of the uses of written language for serving personal and social goals within a particular setting.  Based on such understanding, the child writers made decisions regarding the  issues, paying greater attention to those that were most ‘urgent’ or important for them to address their writer’s agenda (Meyer, 1992). In the course of this, they employed available resources to enrich their writing, solve problems and remove issues of urgency. For child writers, such resources were generally derived from daily life experiences and learning.  Meyer (1992) relates the agenda of a developing writer to his/her experiences  in the following way: A developing writer’s agenda is grounded within and across the settings in which she lives.  The agenda spans all setting and grows and changes as a function of the settings  and the writer’s developing understanding of the uses of written language within the settings.  A writer’s agenda is then transactional (Rosenblatt, 1978), and exists within  the social web of her experiences.  A writer might address her agenda within, because of,  or in spite of the different settings in which she finds herself. (p. 8)  This perspective brings the understanding of the child writer to another level, the embedding of a writer’s agenda in his/her web of daily life experiences, personal, social and cultural, in all settings.  But according to Meyer (1992), the notion of a writer’s  agenda is based on the writer engaging in authentic writing activities.  It has to originate  from the writer him/herself rather than imposed by an external authority, such as a school writing curriculum.  When engaged in classroom or teacher-assigned writing, students  might well have to set aside their personal writer’s agenda to succumb to the demands of more powerful individuals.  In choice of theme, they are limited to topics and prompts  suggested or set by the teacher. classroom.  There is also a lack of a real audience outside the  The restricted repertoire of genres and functions with which students write  at school is distinctly different from that of the writing they produce at home for a wide 159  range of purposes (Bissex, 1980).  Real discourse for personal, cultural and social  development could be found beyond the classroom.  However, even within the school  context itself, the frequency of functions increased with a decreasing amount of control exercised upon the writing activity.  For instance, journals, written with less constraint  in the form of task prompts as found in stories and lists, evoked a greater number of functions than the other two school genres for all the four children.  Moreover, a vast  majority of the functions were personal while most of the rest were social, indicating how the children employed the genre for personal expression and social communication. The child writers were free to follow their writer’s agenda when they were writing on a self-initiated basis at home.  To convey a message that assumed urgency or a  particular meaning for them, they approached the act of writing from a personal perspective with a genuine purpose.  Where writing was produced more for  self-fulfillment than to be judged by an audience for whom the text was seldom actually intended, it seemed to generate more functions when compared with school writing as suggested by the descriptive analyses.  For example, there was a positive relationship  between high frequency counts of social and personal functions and types of genres normally used for fulfilling interactive functions, such as diaries, notes, greeting cards and poems.  Interestingly, these genres can be aligned with the three general text types  identified by Britton et al. (1975) in a widely cited study on children’s genre development - the expressive, the transactional, and the poetic.  The phenomenon could be explained  by relating the children’s writing development to their home literacy experiences.  Their  writer’s agenda would likely be affected by their understanding of the role of written language conceptualised from home literacy practices and actual experience with writing. Other contributing factors could be the issues that captured their attention and their emotional state as they planned and carried out their writing.  Whatever the factors  might be, the children embodied a wide range of personal, social and recreational functions when writing on a voluntary basis.  It was a private practice separate from  school writing (Schultz, 2002), one in which they experimented intertwining multiple functions with multiple genres using an acquired language for a multitude of purposes.  160  6.2 Constructing meaning with functions and genres in school and at home After a quantitative analysis of the children’s enactment of writing functions in specific genres, their writing samples were studied qualitatively to examine how they constructed meaning for personal and social purposes writing in a multitude of genres in school and at home.  The profiles given below show different composing practices of  the individual child writers in relation to functions and genres.  For each of the four  focal children, the analysis began with their writing practices and their characteristics. These were then illustrated with discussion of selected writing samples, and interpretations of their significance in relation to meaning making for the individual focal child.  Finally, connections were made between writing purposes and their realization in  the enactment of functions and the choice of genres. 6.2.1 Elaine the Inventor: Writing for Fun Elaine was rated above average in writing ability by her teacher. was the second most prolific writer in the group after John. writing in total, 15 in the school context and 19 at home.  Indeed, she  She produced 34 pieces of Despite her high productivity,  the texts she wrote in both contexts were usually short and simple in structure as compared with those of the other focal children.  Moreover, her personal average  number of functions was the lowest among the four focal children in both settings, an unexpected finding in view of the fact that she was a high ability girl in the teacher’s judgment. Nevertheless, Elaine showed resourcefulness in the functions she embodied in her writing when composing.  There was a good spread of functions among the different  categories in both her school and home writing.  However, the function of imagining,  fiction or fantasy, was not found in any of her home writing.  Elaine was more of a  practical and academic person who chose to express herself based on real experiences rather than imagination when allowed to follow her writer’s agenda.  It was thus not  surprising that the personal functions of expressing and referring to experience were most prevalent in her writing in both settings.  Ego enhancing and enjoying were two  other personal functions that distinguished her home writing from that of the others. They were most frequent in her notes, poems and jokes that made up the bulk of her home-based texts.  Of all the four children, Elaine seemed to enjoy writing the most.  It  161  not only provided her fun but also heightened her self-esteem, serving a self-fulfillment purpose.  She incorporated informing in what she wrote for entertainment, the jokes in  her home writing.  She enjoyed displaying her knowledge as someone who possessed  information to be shared with others.  The informing function was also significant in her  free writing in the school context, the journals that were written with relatively little control by the teacher. With regard to genres, Elaine was distinctive in her creativeness and endeavour. In the school setting, she wrote in three genres as did all the children in the group.  Her  home writing included six different genres, the widest range among the focal children. The genres spanned across all the categories of genres, chronologies, descriptions, interactions, and word plays in which she excelled.  She displayed her ingenuity in  writing by revisiting a recurring theme across a number of different genres.  Winning  the raffle ticket sale competition, she wrote about it in one of her school journals, a story and a note in her home writing.  She spoke excitedly about her achievement, “I sold the  most tickets in the class, in a raffle draw… I was so happy about that, I won a prize, and also that if we sold the most tickets in the whole school, we would win an ice-cream cake.” Writing was a way of celebrating for this child writer. Disposed to write for self and other entertainment, Elaine wrote poems and jokes. She wrote poems for fun, sometimes rewriting a familiar one and sometimes creating original ones. form.  The poem in Figure 16 shows representing written language in verse  The major intent was enjoying and expressing.  Putting the sentences in separate  lines, she presented it as a poem although the lines did not rhyme at all. kind of playfulness around the poem.  There was a  Fun was derived from the sing-song tune of the  numbers 1, 2, and 3 written in a forward and a backward chain alternately.  This  repetitive pattern was echoed by the description of the action of putting on costumes in the first and the third line.  The Jack-o-lantern in the picture that accompanied the poem  bore the typical scary facial features.  However, the girl who was carrying it showed a  big happy face and was actually drawn to the writer’s likeness.  The drawing was  intended to illustrate the last line of the poem with which she expressed her feelings for the festival where children always played the central role.  Writing poetry was a  162  pleasurable process for her, a way to express what she saw and enjoyed in the world (Schultz, 2002).  (Transcript) Halloween 123 we put our costume on. 321 we took off our costume. 123 we put our costume on again. 321 we put our mask on! 123 happy Halloween!  Figure 16: Elaine’s poem about Halloween Elaine’s jokes were actually riddles in essence.  By calling them jokes, she  aligned them with the jokes that she had read or heard in or out-of-school, a separate genre by its own right.  She created a genre for herself to fit her writing purpose which  was having fun with language, and to give more weight to her written artifacts. asked why she wrote the jokes, she said, “I like jokes. enjoyment derived from the writing act was satisfying.  When  They are funny.” The As put forward by Graves and  Stuart (1985), “[t]he source of the sensation may be a minute yet precise detail…It is that moment of simultaneous surprise and recognition that gratifies both writer and readers” (p. 101). Her notes were another example of how she interpreted genres in an unconventional way.  They were not the traditional scripts for communicating messages  from one person to an intended audience.  Rather, they were notes written to her own  self to savour significant experiences and the feelings given rise by them. showed her audacity as a young writer.  Such practice  It was also illustrative of her awareness and  knowledge of genres, their contextual situatedness and social nature.  She played around  163  with them, interpreting them in her own way.  Her aptitude for creating genres can also  be illustrated by her piece of non-fiction writing about dinosaurs, the only one among the two sets of writing samples.  Not knowing how to categorize the piece of  text-cum-drawing aimed at informing and expressing into a particular genre, the child writer simply invented one for the occasion. The finding was different from existing literature on children’s development of genres.  Dyson (1997), for example, demonstrated from her study of elementary  children’s writing that they appropriated genres from their discourse community rather than inventing them themselves; the genres they wrote could be identified in their classroom.  In the present study, invention as well as appropriation was observed in this  particular child writer.  Nevertheless, while it was not certain whether the genre of jokes,  as interpreted by Elaine, was among the written discourse embedded in the classroom, the notion of non-fiction writing had definitely been introduced to the class as they worked on their informational writing project.  Hence, in a certain way, the genre was derived  from the learning discourse, as its nature and content showed.  But it had been given a  twist to fit in with the writer’s purpose of demonstrating academic knowledge. Given to creating with a free spirit, Elaine spared no effort to follow her writer’s agenda when engaged in self-initiated writing at home.  To illustrate how her school and  home writing differed, two writing samples were taken for comparison and contrast. One of them was a school journal, produced as a routine school assignment (Figure 17), and the other was a journal from her voluntary writing (Figure 18). were selected because they were similar in length, genre and content.  The two samples Friends and daily  life experiences shaped the theme in both journals that were short as typical of Elaine’s writing. text.  The major difference between them was the writing functions evoked in the  They varied in both nature and quantity. For the school journal (Figure 17), the writing function was referring to  experience, a personal function.  The text started with the temporal adverbial “On the  weekend” which was also found at the beginning of many school journals written by her and the other focal children.  It could well be a prompt suggested by the teacher and one  that they always fell back on when starting a journal.  The journal was a chronological  description of a series of activities she did on the weekend.  She played on the computer.  164  (Transcript) Journal On the weekend I play the computer. My friends came over. We heard some music. It was time for dinner. When we finish, we ride our bike to the park and then, we play. We went to Rupert Park. We went with my uncle.  Figure 17: Elaine’s school journal about her weekend When her friends came over, they listened to music.  Then they had dinner after which  they rode their bikes to the park with her uncle and played there.  The text was  accompanied by line drawings of some gymnastic facilities in the park, two flower beds and what looked like part of a football goal.  It was a straightforward text giving a  monotone picture of some of her daily experiences. response to her journal was “Sounds fun”. imparted by the writer herself though.  A comment given by her teacher in  There was no expression of fun or enjoyment  However, simple and plain as it was, the recount  included activities and people in her family, extended family, friends, and the community. These were part of her social life that she lived in and portrayed in her writing. The home journal, as shown in Figure 18, was quite different in tone and depth. Unlike the school journal which started with the commonplace ‘on the weekend’, the text began with a topic sentence. ‘Today I went to Chinese school” signifying the theme of the piece. hard.  Right after that she commented on her experience, complaining that it was  Then she explained why it was so – the students had to do lots and lots of  homework there. Chinese tutor.  Next, she talked about her friend, Monica, who wanted her to be her  This was followed by a dialogue, direct speech in quotation marks  between her and Monica in which they negotiated the day of the week on which her help 165  (Transcript) Journal Today I went to Chinese school. It is hard there. We have lots and lots of homework. Monica want me to be her Chinese teacher. I said, “Sure.” She said, “I want it every Thursday.” I said, “Sure.” Then she said, “Thank you.” I said, “No problem.”  Figure 18: Elaine’s home journal about Chinese school was needed.  There were several writing functions underlying the short text. She  referred to her experience of going to Chinese language school.  Then she expressed her  opinions on what happened there, and gave reasons to justify her judgment.  Finally,  perhaps to illustrate how hard it was, she described her friend seeking her help with her Chinese language learning, substantiating the description with oral language represented in written form to give a more real life like sensation of the situation.  To accompany the  text, the writer drew a stack of thick volumes which she labeled ‘Books’.  It could be  considered an expression of her disapproval of her experience in the Chinese language school where there were books and work all the time and little else. Thus, writing in the same genre and using more or less the same number of words, the child writer evoked a different number and different types of functions through the text.  The school journal seemed like a stereotyped response to a task prompt writing  about what you did on the weekend, a pure chronology of events and activities with little expression of feelings or opinions.  It was the field of the writing activity that seemed to  have limited the child’s perception of the nature and demand of the task which in turn affected the amount of investment she was ready to make.  In her home journal in  private writing, she felt at liberty to deal with a subject of a more sensitive and personal  166  nature; she ventured to describe her experiences at the Chinese language school and reveal her opinions about them.  With regard to tenor, the writer would dwell on the  relationships with those related to her in the context. linguistic text and drawing in both samples.  The mode was a combination of  But it was in the home journal that the  drawing carried a functional role to add to the force of the text. Thus, for presenting both ideational and interpersonal meaning, the home setting seemed more conducive to purposeful writing and generated more intensive and varied writing functions for expression and communication. The home setting also provided a more favourable social environment leading to purposeful and invested writing than the classroom for Elaine.  As a student in class,  Elaine was active and restless, roaming about the room and talking with other students during on-task time.  She was highly alert to whatever happened around her and jumped  at every opportunity to join in group chit-chat or play.  The writing she produced in the  school context was never too strong but just met with what was expected of a competent second language learner.  Hence, she was rated high in writing ability amongst the  Chinese girls with ESL background in the class. quantity might be another reason.  Her high productivity in terms of  When writing at home, she was more demanding of  herself because of her social position among her peers.  She was the oldest child in a  small group of girls from two families that always got together during the day as well as for social activities.  One of the girls was her younger sister.  and her baby sister.  They were her aunt’s children that her mother was babysitting.  The children got together for play in their spare time.  Then there was a cousin  Elaine, being the oldest and the  most knowledgeable member of the small community, was often encouraged to write by her mother in her free time while the younger ones would just play.  The parent’s  intention was for her to practice English language writing rather than for any sociocultural purposes.  Elaine would show her writing to her peers, as a more learned  individual, a poet and a ‘joker’ among them.  Although they could hardly read it, their  admiration and her mother’s approval were worth all the time and effort she invested in the work.  167  6.2.2 Katie the Weaver: Writing with a Voice Katie, the average ability girl, did not produce as much writing as Elaine did. She wrote 18 pieces in the school setting and 10 in the home, making a total of 28. However, she was noted for her use of multiple functions in combination in specific genres in her writing.  It was not a practice unique to her; most of the writing samples in  either setting were written with multiple, interrelated writing functions.  Yet the artistry  and intensity with which she weaved a tapestry of written words to express herself was very impressive and specific.  The identity of Katie as a weaver was derived from the  metaphor of the web of experiences in which a writer is situated.  According to Meyer  (1992), a social web of experiences “extends across all the settings in which the writer lives and grows,… consists of school experiences, home experiences, and experiences in the community.., relationships with individuals and the tenors (Halliday, 1978) of those relationships” (p. 3).  Children are often caught in the webs of understanding as they  develop their language and literacy (Gregory et al., 2004). To engage in writing is to weave webs of meaning, using the written word for linguistic expression in complex ways (Chapman, 1997; Dyson, 1988).  Writing as a human activity must be understood  in terms of both the individual writer and the context in which the writing occurs (Rogoff, 1990). In the children’s weaving of multiple functions, a social function often formed the core around which other functions emerged, a pattern found in most of their writing, as shown in one of Katie’s school journals (Figure 19).  The teacher set the prompt for the  journal – ‘If I were an insect’, a home assignment as part of a class project on insects. The children each chose an insect that they would like to be and described it.  While  informing was Katie’s major intent of the writing, her secondary ones were reasoning and expressing, a social function integrating with personal ones.  Besides providing various  kinds of information on butterflies, such as body parts and colour, the writer also gave reasons to justify her choice and expressed her thoughts about the insect.  The text was  accompanied by a picture of the insect spreading its wings under the sun and two clouds. The heavenly elements of nature were expressing their admiration for the butterfly about its being able to fly.  The drawing did not provide any additional academic information  but served to strengthen the expressing function in the text.  168  (Transcript) Journal If I were an insect, I would be a butterfly so I can fly and see the sky. Because I butterfly is my favourite insect so that’s why I like to be a butterfly. I have wings to fly too. And fly just like the other insects. I have antennae too. And all different colours on me.  Figure 19: Katie’s informational journal about her favourite insect Incorporating functions of quite different nature like informing, reasoning and expressing, the piece of writing illustrated how the writing purposes of expression and transaction (Britton et al., 1975) were served at the same time.  The multiplicity of  functions shown in Katie’s writing and that of other focal children corroborated findings made by McGinley and Kamberelis (1991) in their study of the reading and writing functions of third and fourth graders.  The child writers in the present study selected  content from their personal or social experience to match with their writing intentions. Then, they expressed their opinions, attitudes, or emotions about them.  Next, they  explained to justify their judgments based on reflections on events, and finally drew conclusions.  These formed the basis for a particular ‘directional’ purpose for which the  piece of writing was created, whether to anticipate, to inform, or to interact with others. Katie’s intertwining of multiple functions was particularly significant in her home-based writing in which she was able to project a voice of her own. and at home, Katie was shy and demure.  Both in school  She was a well-behaved student in class,  working silently and obediently following the teacher’s instruction.  Her class  169  performance was satisfactory and was hence rated average in writing ability.  She was  submissive in front of her parents who were always pushing her to work harder in her studies.  She behaved in the manner expected of a young junior member of the family as  held in traditional Chinese culture, especially one who was not achieving too well.  Her  restrained demeanor, however, was dropped when she talked with the researcher whom she might align with the school community.  While Katie was usually quiet in her ways,  she was definitely very interactive in her writing.  She spoke to different people she was  concerned with in a strong and highly charged voice, as shown in the following example of a note she wrote to her parents in her home-based writing (Figure 20).  The piece  illustrates how a child writer could direct her writing at a specific and real audience for authentic purposes, and use it as a tool to convey information and feelings for negotiating social relationships and constructing her identity. As in her school journal, Katie’s note was embedded with a multitude of social and personal functions.  Interacting and ego enhancing were the major ones, supported  by informing, referring to experience, and representing oral language. In this short note, the little girl greeted her parents good morning, expecting them to read it early in the day as they got up.  She used linguistic expression to represent oral language,  speaking directly to her parents as if she was interacting with them in person.  The  (Transcript) Note Good morning, mommy and daddy! I already brush my teeth and changed clothes. You don’t have to worry about yelling at me. So I finished everything. To: mom and dad From: just Katie  Figure 20: Katie’s note to her parents 170  central message was informing them that she was being able to look after herself by referring to her experience that morning – brushing her teeth and changing her clothes on her own before her parents told her to do so. She was also expressing her opinion that she was becoming more independent, and that they did not have to worry about yelling at her to do all those things. causal flare. did.  Finally, she signed her name with “just Katie” giving it a  The style signified the function of ego enhancing as much as the note itself  The little girl had composed a message to display her competence and  independence, and expressed her pride in them.  The way she signed it off was a gesture  with which she proudly congratulated herself at having established a reformed identity in the eyes of her parents.  She did it with her own efforts, and spoke about it with a clear  and ringing voice to declare her capabi