PhD Research School in Linguistics and Philology

Sigrid Ørevik

Genres in the “digitized” EFL classroom

Main content

The project “Genres in the ‘digitized’ EFL classroom” will analyse genres used for teaching and testing students’ reception and production in English in the first year of Norwegian upper secondary school, general area of study. A central starting point will be the aim of developing digital competence, or digital literacies, set out in the national curriculum guidelines of 2006 and the reform by which each student now has his/her own laptop. Analyses of genres presently taught and used in textbooks, pedagogical websites, and exam questions will be carried out and compared to genres used in Norwegian EFL teaching prior to the introduction of digitized learning activities. Changes in the reception and production of classroom texts brought on by electronic media for text production represent a field of research not yet sufficiently investigated and discussed.

Research questions

  • To what extent is new technology and new forms of communication such as blogs, chat rooms and hypertext represented in material for teaching and learning in Norwegian EFL classrooms (Vg1 upper secondary education) during the period of investigation (1998-2012)? 
  • Which are the most significant changes in the role and use of genres during the period of investigation? Has new technology (ICT) influenced the range of genres employed in teaching and learning material provided for the EFL classroom, and the genres represented for reception and production in written tasks and exam questions? Textbooks, pedagogical websites, and genres assigned in tasks and exam questions will be analysed. 


  • The four dominating textbooks used in Norwegian EFL Vg1 courses during Reform 94 and LK06 respectively, including separate exercise books where provided.
  • Pedagogical websites constructed by the same textbook publishers, as well as the pedagogical material for EFL included in NDLA’s (norsk digital læringsarena/Norwegian Digital Learning Arena) web resources.
  • Sets of exam questions, national written exam for EFL first year of upper secondary education, from the years 1998-2012, along with pertaining guidelines for external examiners.
  • Assessment guidelines issued by Norwegian education authorities.


I have conducted a pilot study for the present project, investigating the role of genre in exam papers for English Vg1 between 1992 and 2010. My research shows that genres used in attached text material (texts for reception) have been undergoing a slight change in the direction of multimodality, whereas genres assigned for production remain all but unchanged. Furthermore, my study discovered a considerable degree of vagueness and ambiguity concerning the role of genre in written assignments given in EFL Vg 1 exams, a tendency that is more or less constant through all three curriculum periods. 

The pilot study will be an important element and point of departure for the PhD project. The findings concerning the role of genre in the exam papers will be compared to genre-related findings in EFL textbooks and websites. Moreover, the study of exam papers will be continued to comprise the 2011 and 2012 exams.

I intend to perform a qualitative and comparative analysis of genres used in the EFL first year course in Norwegian upper secondary schools in the period from 1998 to 2012, where the main focus will be the nature of changes in genres used and taught in the EFL classroom, and to what extent recent teaching material encourages multimodality in students’ text creation. I will primarily draw on genre definitions within the three research traditions outlined above in the range and typology of genres used in EFL material for learning activities. In addition, I will cooperate with my supervisor Professor Skulstad in a project of redefining the concept of genre to allow for multimodal elements, hybridity, heterogeneity and the relationship between stability and change.

Theories of genre change will also be important to my Ph.D. project. In addition to genre analysis, multimodal analysis of “texts” will be central.

My analysis will provide important background material for a discussion of changes in the EFL Vg1 students’ text competence and digital literacies and suggest consequences for teaching material, didactic approaches and testing methods in Norwegian EFL courses.