Text genres, discursive types and possible developmental effects

Submitted by: Antónia Coutinho
Abstract: Text genre is nowadays a consensual notion in text and discourse linguistic studies as well as in didactic approaches. In Portugal, the notion appeared recently in the official documents for compulsory education, replacing the notion of text types, explicitly or implicitly referred in previous documents. Besides all discussion concerning current programmes, in Portuguese context, this evolution appears as a positive one, once it allows a balanced work, dealing with contextual dimensions as well as macro-organizational and (micro)linguistic (or grammatical) features. The importance of contextual features has already been pointed out by several authors, among which we will emphasize the founding contribution of Voloshinov ([1929]1973), arguing for a top-down methodological option regarding the study of language. Following Voloshinov, as well as Vygotsky ([1934]2007) and Saussure (2002), the Socio-Discursive Interactionism framework (Bronckart, 1997) defines itself as a logocentric approach, assuming the role of language as fundamental in the development of superior psychic functions and in the development of the individuals during their life. Based on this epistemological and theoretical framework, we want to discuss, in this paper, what specific developmental effects can be attached to the progressive mastery of text genres. More specifically, we will argue that the referred mastery is supposed to contribute to the development of praxeological capacities and the development of personal identities, besides the development of formal contents (Bronckart, 2008). Both dimensions (praxeological capacities and personal identities) depend on a differential approach (Coutinho & Miranda, 2015): to deal with the differences between different genres and to deal with differences between different examples (specimen) of the same genre. However, the development of personal identities depends particularly on discursive capacities (as they are conceived within the Socio-Discursive Interactionism framework): to deal with different socio-subjective roles, to deal with the grammatical solutions (as technical solutions) to configure those roles.
The theoretical dimension of this contribution will be supplemented by practical experiences in classroom Portuguese contexts, in mandatory education and in higher education (first year). The available data highlights the benefits of a genre-oriented teaching approach, developing different and complementary dimensions of the person – including their social and discursive capacities.


Bronckart, J.-P. (2008). Un retour nécessaire sur la question du développement. In M. Brossard & J. Fijalkow, Vygotski et les recherches en éducation et en didactiques (pp. 237-250). Bordeaux : Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux.

Coutinho, M. A., Miranda, F. (2015). Les propriétés différentielles des genres et leurs implications didactiques. Le Français dans le monde. Recherches et applications, 58: 17 - 26.

Voloshinov, V. N. ([1929]1977). Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. Harvard: Harvard University Press and the Academic Press Inc.

Saussure, F. de (2006). Writings in General Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

text genres - discourse types - differential approach - personal development - EXPERIENCE