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Home Teaching English Skills Research Proposal Using text type to improve students' writing skill in narrative writing
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Tuesday, 24 May 2011 07:36


Using text type to improve students' writing skill in narrative writing


It has been argued that narrative is a natural way of making sense of experience and narrative writing helps the students to write easily by exposing them to the motivation of telling about themselves, using their everyday information and therefore improve their writing skill. Because of the importance of narrative writing, this action research will be taken to make an improvement in learning English in  High school. I. It looks at the teacher’s using of text type approach to improve students’ skill in writing narrative. The study also focuses on the students’ perceptions of using the structure and the language features of narrative writing in order to help them write well about their life as well as to write for academic and occupational purposes. Through it the students will learn and retain control of the text type more deeply and better, they will become adept at using correct text type in writing narrative. Additionally, implementing writing narrative can cause me to emphasize the use of correct text type and encourage my colleagues to use it.  As a result of this research, I plan to refine my proposal and continue to use text type approach with other classes.


1. Research questions

This research will focus on the effectiveness of text type approach in the teaching of writing narrative, and explore the students’ improvement of  learning to write with this approach. This research is designed to find out the answers to the following questions:

1.1. To what extents does the use of text type approach improve students’ writing

a narrative?

1.2. How do students feel about the use of text type approach in  narrative writing ?

2. Definitions of terms:

2.1. Text type:

“A text type is a specific linguistic pattern in which formal/structural characteristics have conventionalized in a specific culture  for certain well-defined and a standardized uses of language” (Gorlach, 2004, p. 105)

The term text type describes texts with different purposes, such as to inform, persuade or describe. The writers must master the structure and language features of the text type to achieve their purposes.

2.2. Narrative:

According to http://www.units.muohio.edu/technologyandhumanities”:

“A narrative is some kind of retelling, often in words, of something that happened (a story). The narrative is not the story itself but rather the telling of the story - which is why it is so often used in phrases such as "written narrative," "oral narrative," etc”.

Jordan Henley (1988) shows that”In essays the narrative writing could also be considered reflection or an exploration of the author's values told as a story. The author may remember his or her past, or a memorable person or event from that past, or even observe the present”.

On the other hand, a narrative is a piece of text telling a story in chorological order. In teaching writing, narrative writing is used most widely because the writers have a chance to think and write about themselves. They have various experiences in their memories which are worthy of sharing with readers.


1. Rationale

Over the past decades there have been a lot of changes in EFL teaching. Among the skills used to improve the students’ competence, writing can be one of the most effective means of learning. The act of writing is not just a matter of transcribing ideas waiting fully developed in the writer’s mind. It is a powerful process for discovering and sharpening

meaning. That’s why writing seems to be the most difficult skill to teach for each teacher. In each writing session of my school, the teachers try to help students with vocabulary, grammatical points or structures, some modeling, and then students are required to write a paragraph, an application form, or a comment on a book, a story or a film. This procedure often takes time and the products seem not to meet the demand of teachers. This problem brings me to the question: Why it should be changed? If the teacher still carries out with this strategy, students will have no interests in writing and then get no improvement in learning English.  In order to help them have the final products, the teachers must provide them different text types such narrative, recount, procedure, exposition, informative report, or explanation, which depend on their age, interests and level. Among them, narrative is one of the most common forms of writing used by students.  Applying the text type approach in teaching writing a narrative must be an effective way which gives much improvement in learning English.

2. Background:

I am teaching at Dong Hoi High School located in the suburb of a city in a central province of Vietnam. In my school, teaching writing causes many difficulties for both teachers and students because of the following reasons. First, according to the curriculum of the MOET, there are three English lessons per weeks for the students in high school, and the level of the students is pre-intermediate when entering high school but in fact, many of them are not good at the four skills, especially writing. Second, each of the lessons lasts 45 minutes. The students have to read the model, study the text type and write their writing in such a short time so they cannot practice well. Another important reason is the fact that in the final examination, the students always do MCQs instead of writing sentences. Therefore in teaching and testing, the teachers usually use MCQs to measure their knowledge and skills. In writing lessons, the students are helped with vocabulary, model, grammar but they

encounter great difficulty in applying them in their writing as well as using the correct text type in their work. Besides, the opportunity of self-correction and classmates’ evaluation is also lacked. This causes students’ failure to improve their skill. For these reasons, the students can rarely produce a good piece of writing. In order to solve these obstacles, the theory of teaching writing which I have been taught at RELC and the results of the research I have studied when studying during Action Research course give me the confidence to apply successfully new method of teaching writing.


Because of the importance of narrative writing, many researches have been done to improve the students’ skill in writing.. Among six main text types, narrative writing is most widely used in teaching writing for the learners of ESL.

To improve writing skill, the students have to understand the purpose, types, structure and language features of a narrative, which are shown as followed:

Purpose: Derewianka (1996, cited in Ian Bruce, 2008) emphasizes “The basic purpose of a narrative is to entertain, i.e. to gain and hold the reader’s interest in a story. But narrative may also seek to reach information, to embody the writer’s reflections on experience, and – perhaps most important, to nourish and extend the reader’s imagination. The focus of the text is on a sequence of actions”.

Types of Narrative: There are many types of narrative. They can be imaginary, factual or a combination of both. They may include fairy stories, mysteries, science fiction, romances, horror stories, adventure stories, fables, myths and legends, historical narratives, ballads, slice of life or personal experience.


Anderson (1997, cited in Narith, 2000) shows that a narrative text has main parts:

Orientation: (introduction) in which the characters, setting and time of the story are established. They usually answer the questions:  Who? When? Where?

Complication or problem: This is the event that influences what will happen in the story.

Resolution: In resolution the characters sort out the complication of the story.

Coda (optional) – lesson from the story ( a moral message)

Sequence of events: In a traditional narrative, the focus of the text is on a series of actions which describe the characters’ reactions to the complication.

Language features of a narrative:

Anderson, K. & Anderson, M. (1995) emphasizes that the writer has to use specific forms to describe the characters, the time words that connect events to tell when they occur, the verbs to show the actions that happen in the story and descriptive words that portray the characters and settings.

To apply these methods I have to design the model texts and introduce the structure and language features to the students. After that, they will use them to practice so that they can produce their own writing and improve their writing skill.

In conclusion, the research indicates the approach to improve the students’ skill of writing narrative.  I choose to do the research ‘Using the text type approach to improve students’ skills in writing narrative’ with the hope to help my students achieve their competence in learning English.


1. Independent and Dependent Variables:

2. Research design

The table below illustrates the research design adapted in this study.

3. Data collection Procedure:

The flow chart below shows how the data was collected and based on:

3.1. Selection of subjects:

This study is carried out in Dong Hoi High School with the students of class 11A1. I decided to select them because although they major in Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology, they are interested in learning English.  They are excited with learning speaking, reading, grammar but still find it difficult to write. They are confused about idea arrangement, word choice and applying the correct text type into their writing.  Students are not offered any chances to write in class-time in order to take what the teacher gave them into practice. Being used to considering the final product  the homework,  the students are not acquainted with a variety of  types of writing or the teachers themselves fail to classify which text types writing is being used. The great deal of work needed to be done in a lesson such as vocabulary and structure providing squeeze teachers’ energy.  Therefore, it is necessary to explain the need of the teachers’ responsibility for finding out the way to better the students’ competence in the subject. The using of text type will be attached in selected subjects to improve their skill in writing narrative.

3.2 Lesson plans:

During the period of the research, four lesson plans will be designed based on the text type approach. They will be used to teach students to compose narrative essays.  Each of the lesson will be taught in a 45-minute class. In every lesson plan, the researcher is going to explain the structure and language features of narrative text type. Then the students are going to practice writing their own work.

3.3 The writing test

The writing test will be used for all students in class 11A1, one pre-test (before text type is applied in teaching a narrative) and two post tests. (After every 2 lessons). Each test lasts 45 minutes to determine if the students have changed and which features of narrative writing have been affected. The students will write a narrative on different topics for each test but the topics should be familiar with students’ background knowledge and vocabulary.

3.4. Student Questionnaire

Before the pre-test and after the 2nd post-test the students will be given the questionnaires to discover if the treatment has any effect on students’ attitude, feeling and knowledge about using text type approach in the class. The 30 minute questionnaire includes 8 items written in English.

4. Data Analysis

4.1. Quantitative methods

The marks from three writing texts will be collected and analyzed by using a simple counting method - Frequency count. Then the results will be reported in tables as frequencies and percentages. In order to reveal the degree of success in using this method, the result of each text will be examined and compared with the other. Besides, the students’ responses to the questionnaire are collected and notes are also taken to convey the students’ attitudes to the use of text type approach in teaching writing.

4.2. Qualitative methods:

The researcher will use Critical Discourse Analysis to analyze students’ test papers, teacher’s lesson plans, open-ended questions. The students’ papers will be read and marked. During the process of marking, the evaluation of the students’ ability and proficiency level in writing narrative is based on the way their text organization as well as vocabulary and structures use. In this way, the efficiency of the text type approach in teaching narrative can be recognized, thus some adjustments to improve the lesson plans can be adapted.

5. Research Schedule


It is hoped that with the detailed schedule and procedure above, this research will result in positive changes in students’ narrative writing. They can follow the correct structure, the language features as well as selectively use vocabulary and verb tenses. The new method will make the students feel more confident and more interested in writing narrative. They will employ their skill in reading model text, studying text type to write their own texts. I believe that students can enhance their ability skill in writing a narrative, and developing their writing competence can be done through it.

However, my colleagues and students may be quite unfamiliar with this research.  Therefore, it may be refused to apply in teaching writing. Besides, the tests do not require students to write narrative essays, so they might not be interested in the use of the new approach.


In this proposal, with the identification of the research problem, reviewed the literature, planned the data collection procedure and research schedule, I also anticipate some positive results as well as challenges. I am going to implement the research plan in my class when going back to Vietnam in the hope that the research’s findings will help to improve teaching and learning writing, especially writing narrative in my school.

This is the link for you to



1. Anderson, K. & Anderson, M. (1995). Text Types in English. Australia:

Macmillan Education.

2. Bruce, I. (2008). Academic writing and genre: a systematic analysis. London Continuum

3. Gorlach, M. (2004). Text Types and the History of English, [online].

Available: books.google.com.sg/books?isbn=3110132168...

4. Jordan-Henley, J.(1988). A Brief Guide to Writing Narrative Essays [online].

Available: www.roanestate.edu/owl&writingcenter/.../narration.html

5. Narith, K. C. (2000). Teaching narrative writing at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

RELC Regional Language Centre.

6. Narrative writing definition, (online).Available:


7. Porto, M. (2001). Cooperative writing response groups and self-evaluation.

ELT Journal. Vol 55. 38-46

8. Vickers, C.H and Ene, E. (2006).  Grammatical accuracy and learner autonomy in advanced writing. ELT Journal. Vol 60., 109-115




Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 May 2011 10:23

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