An ELL’s journey in learning to demonstrate solidarity in job application letters
Keywords:Appraisal theory, English as a second language, Business English, Job application letters, Genre learning, Systemic functional linguistics, employment mobility, capacity building
In recent years, tertiary institutes worldwide have begun to emphasize capacity building of their students for future employment, particularly with regard to international mobility. An integral part of building such capacity among English language learners (ELLs) is to equip them with the ability to apply for jobs in English. This paper reports on a research project which tracked, over the course of eight weeks an Israeli English language learner's improved understanding of how to write a US-oriented job application letter. Using the theoretical framework of systemic functional linguistics (cf. Halliday and Matthiessen, 2004), we present the results of a fine grained linguistic analysis of the texts produced by a student at three different points in the learning process. Against the background of a large corpus of linguistically analysed successful job application letters, the paper focuses on the extent to which the student developed in managing the applicant-potential employer relationship, which we call 'demonstrating solidarity', as evidenced through his changing use of interpersonal linguistic resources. We interpret the student's development in light of cross-cultural differences that might have influenced his learning trajectory. The paper concludes by setting out the most significant implications of the findings for pedagogic practice and institutional policy, especially important for English language learners.
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