of the text type labels remain opaque, such as “situated reportage” or “intimate interpersonal interaction” (Biber, 1989). They are indeed interesting interpretations of the linguistic phenomena found in a corpus, but they are more similar to learned language analysis than intuitive types of text.
2.2.5 Genre and Text Type
One way of making a distinction between genre and text type is to say that the former is based on external, non-linguistic, “traditional” criteria while the latter is based on the internal, linguistic characteristics of texts themselves (Biber, 1988, pp. 70 & 170; EAGLES, 1996).1 A genre, in this view, is defined as a category assigned on the basis of external criteria such as intended audience, purpose, and activity type, that is, it refers to a conventional, culturally recognized grouping of texts based on properties other than lexical or grammatical (co-)occurrence features, which are, instead, the internal (linguistic) criteria forming the basis of text type categories. Biber (1988) has this to say about external criteria:
Genre categories are determined on the basis of external criteria relating to the speaker’s purpose and topic; they are assigned on the basis of use rather than on the basis of form. (p. 170)
In theory, two texts may belong to the same text type (in Biber’s sense) even though they may come from two different genres because they have some similarities in linguistic form (e.g., biographies and novels are similar in terms of some typically “past-tense, third-person narrative” linguistic features). This highly restricted use of text type is an attempt to account for variation within and across genres (and hence, in a way, to go “above and beyond” genre in linguistic investigations). Biber’s (1989, p. 6) use of the term, for example, is prompted by his belief that “genre distinctions do not adequately represent the underlying text types of English …; linguistically distinct texts within a genre represent different text types; linguistically similar texts from different genres represent a single text type.”
Paltridge (1996), in an article on “Genre, Text Type, and the Language Learning Classroom,” makes reference to Biber (1988; but, crucially, not to Biber 1989) and proposes a usage of the terms genre and text type which he claims is in line with Biber’s external/internal distinction. It is clear from the article, however, that what Paltridge means by “internal criteria” differs considerably from what Biber meant. Paltridge proposes the following distinction:
Table 2.1. Paltridge’s Examples of Genres and “Text Types” (based on Hammond, Burns, Joyce, Brosnan, & Gerot, 1992)
Genre Text Type
Personal letter Anecdote
Police report Description
Student essay Exposition
Formal letter Exposition
Format letter Problem–Solution
News item Recount
Health brochure Procedure
Student assignment Recount
Biology textbook Report
Film review Review
As can be seen, what Paltridge calls “text types” are probably better termed “discourse/rhetorical structure types,” since the determinants of his “text types” are not surface-level lexicogrammatical or syntactic features (Biber’s “internal linguistic features”), but rhetorical patterns (which is what Hoey, 1986, p. 130, for example, calls them). Paltridge’s sources, Meyer (1975), Hoey (1983), Crombie (1985) and Hammond et al. (1992) are all similarly concerned with text-level/discoursal/rhetorical structures or patterns in texts, which most linguists would probably not consider as constituting ‘text types’ in the more usual sense. Returning to Biber’s distinction between genre and text type, then, what we can say is that his “internal versus external” distinction is attractive. However, as noted earlier, the main problem is that linguists have still not firmly decided on or enumerated or described in concrete terms the kinds of text types (in Biber’s sense) we would profit from looking at. Biber’s (1989) work on text typology (see also Biber & Finegan,1986) using his factor-analysis-based multi-dimensional (MD) approach is the most suggestive work so far in this area, but his categories do not seem to have been taken up by other linguists. His eight text types (e.g., “informational interaction,” “learned exposition,” “involved persuasion”) are claimed to be maximally distinct in terms of their linguistic characteristics. The classification here is at the level of individual texts, not groups such as “genres,” so texts which nominally “belong together” in a “genre” (in terms of external criteria) may land up in different text types because of differing linguistic characteristics. An important caveat to mention, however, is that there are many questions surrounding the statistical validity, empirical stability, and linguistic usefulness of the linguistic “dimensions” from which Biber derives these “text types,” or clusters of texts sharing internal linguistic characteristic and hence these text typological categories should be taken as indicative rather than final. Kennedy (1998) has said, for example, that some of the text types established by the factor analysis do not seem to be clearly different from each other. For example, the types “learned” and “scientific” exposition … may differ only in some cases because of a higher incidence of active verbs in the “learned” text type. (p. 188)
One could also question the aptness or helpfulness of some of the text type labels (e.g., how useful is it to know that 29% of “official documents” belong to the text type “scientific exposition”?).
It therefore still remains to be seen if stable and valid dimensions of (internal) variation, which can serve as useful criteria for text typology, can be found. Biber (1993) notes that it is more important as a first step in compiling a corpus to focus on covering all the situational parameters of language variation, because they can be determined prior to the collection of texts, whereas there is no a priori way to identify linguistically defined types … [however,] the results of previous research studies, as well as on-going research during the construction of a corpus, can be used to assure that the selection of texts is linguistically as well as situationally representative.
The EAGLES’ (1996) authors say that we should see progress in corpus compilation and text typology as a cyclical process:
The internal linguistic criteria of the text [are] analysed subsequent to the initial selection based on external criteria. The linguistic criteria are subsequently upheld as particular to the genre … [Thus] classification begins with external classification and subsequently focuses on linguistic criteria. If the linguistic criteria are then related back to the external classification and the categories adjusted accordingly, a sort of cyclical process ensues until a level of stability is established. (p. 7)
Or, as the authors say later, this process is one of “frequent cross-checking between internal and external criteria so that each establishes a framework of relevance for the other” (p. 25). Beyond these rather abstract musings, however, there is not enough substantive discussion of what text types or other kinds of internally-based criteria could possibly look like or how exactly they would be useful in balancing corpora.
In summary, with text type still being an elusive concept which cannot yet be established explicitly in terms of linguistic features, perhaps the looser use of the term by people such as Faigley and Meyer (1983) m
ay be just as useful: they use text type in the sense of the traditional four-part rhetorical categories of narrative, description, exposition and argumentation. Steen (1999, p. 113) similarly calls these four classes “types of discourse.”4 Stubbs (1996, p. 11), on the other hand, uses text type and genre interchangeably, in common, perhaps, with most other linguists. At present, such usages of text type (which do not observe the distinctions Biber and EAGLES try to make) are perhaps as consistent and sensible as any, as long as people make it clear how they are using the terms. It does seem redundant, however, to have two terms, each carrying its own historical baggage, both covering the same ground.
This study was instigated to investigate the relationship between EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and comprehension of expository and argumentative texts across different proficiency levels.
This section comprises a full account of the procedural steps taken in this study in order to collect data and find answers to the following research questions:
Q1: Is there any significant relationship between EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and expository text comprehension across different proficiency levels?
Q2: Is there any significant relationship between beginner EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and expository text comprehension?
Q3: Is there any significant relationship between intermediate EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and expository text comprehension?
Q4: Is there any significant relationship between advanced EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and expository text comprehension?
Q5: Is there any significant relationship between EFL learners’ use of reading strategies and argumentative text