Thematic Progression Analysis in Teaching Explanation Writing
(Free ELT Journal)
Thematic Progression theory explains textual meanings of how experiential and interpersonal meanings are organized in a linear and coherent way. Employing the rationale of T-P theory, this article analyses a lesson plan of teaching Explanation, and shows that T-P analysis can be employed in teaching writing.
Keywords: Thematic Progression, Teaching writing, Rationale
The using of Themes reveals the organization of a text on all levels. Theme, according to Halliday (1994:38), is “what the message is concerned with: the point of departure for what the speaker is going to say” in a clause. At the level of a clause complex (paragraph), the first clause will be taken as the theme (topic sentence), while at the level of a text, the first clause or clause complex will be regarded as the departure of what the author is going to say in the article (Butt, Fahey, Feez, Spinks & Yallop, 2000). On the other hand, Rheme includes what the author wants to tell about the Theme, which should be new and interesting to the reader (accordingto the writer). While using Theme as signposts and Rheme as information fills-in in presenting new knowledge to readers, a writer used to develop new Themes from elements (Themes or Rhemes) mentioned in the last clause or clause appeared not long ago or the topic clauses. In doing so, he/she can keep the article a well-organized unity with a clear line of information development and a clear focus on the topic. The progression of new Themes is called Thematic Progression (Butt et al, 2000), which has textual meanings of how experiential and interpersonal meanings are organized in a linear and coherent way. The following example text shows one of the styles of Thematic Progression. For example:
//Phonetics and phonology are concerned with speech—with the ways in which humans produce and hear speech.//Talking and listening to each other are so much part of human life//that they often seem unremarkable.//
In this lesson, I am going to use Thematic Progression in teaching my students Explanation writing.Explanation genre writing is a requisite in the syllabus of the writing course for non-major English learners in Chinese universities, especially for sciences majors. This is because one of the students’ goals of learning English is to communicate with international counterparts in their majoring disciplines, and Explanation genre is very often used in such areas to account for why things are as they are.Students for whom this lesson plan is designed are geography majors. In the discipline of geography, Explanation is often used to explain natural phenomenon.
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