Genre Instruction and Critical Literacy in Teacher Education: Features of a Critical Foreign Language Pedagogy in a University Curriculum

This paper focuses on critical pedagogy and EFL teacher education and it argues that it would be unrealistic to expect students who have been educated through traditional university curricula (aiming to deliver content through a ‘banking model’) to become critical foreign language teachers and educators. The education of future teachers requires new university curricula which view literacy as a critical social practice and prepare them through transformative pedagogies, encouraging them to examine critically their values and beliefs by developing a reflexive knowledge base, an appreciation for multiple perspectives and a sense of critical consciousness and agency.

Based on this premise, the article presents the case of Genres in English, an undergraduate language course at the Department of English Language and Literature of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, aiming to raise students’ critical literacy. Using the tools of Systemic Functional Grammar and drawing on a genre-based approach to writing development, the course initially invites students to take up the role of critical text analysts deconstructing academic and media texts and at a later stage to engage in a popularization of science writing task mediating information from an academic to a media text. Through language tasks which approach genres as historical constructs, students are introduced to the ideological nature of discourses and genres and they explore the conditions of production, distribution and consumption of texts. To evaluate the effectiveness of this approach, the paper presents the findings from a small-scale research conducted with students who have attended the course.