Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 15. Number 1, March 2024                        Pp.144-165

 Full Paper PDF

Investigating Saudi EFL Female University Students’ Command of Journalistic Writing:
An SFL-based Study on Textual Organization

 Abdulmohsin A. Alshehri
Department of Languages and Translation
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Taibah University, Medina, Saudi Arabia

Received:12/02/2023         Accepted:03/05/2024                 Published:03/20/2024

This study examines written literacy outcomes among Saudi female university students undertaking an EFL journalistic course over fourteen weeks. It specifically aims to explore their competence in the English hard news genre. It, thus, seeks to address the following question: after completing the course, to what degree did students create texts structurally matching the conventional English news report? The significance of this study lies in its integration of media and education, employment of linguistic analysis based on Systemic Functional Linguistics, and use of English expert news reports for comparison with students’ journalistic texts. It deployed the genre-based pedagogy devised within the Sydney School to design the news writing course. Twenty-five students undertook such a course during the 2022 academic year. This study gathered those students’ writing to subject it to linguistic scrutiny, assessing each student over one news report after completing the course. It reports that, after the course, half of the class developed their ability to produce the genre of the standard English language hard news report. Those students created texts that matched the professional news articles in the corpus, thus effectively following the textual features of such a genre.
Keywords: Saudi EFL female university students, journalistic writing, SFL-based study, conventional
English news report, textual organization

Cite as:  Alshehri, A. A. (2024). Investigating Saudi EFL Female University Students’ Command of Journalistic Writing: An SFL-based Study on Textual Organization.  Arab World English Journal, 15(1): 144-165 DOI:


Adams, D. M., & Hamm, M. (2001). Literacy in a multimedia age. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon Publishers.

Aull, L. L., & Lancaster, Z. (2014). Linguistic markers of stance in early and advanced academic writing: A corpus-based comparison. Written Communication, 31(2), 151-183.

Buckingham, D. (2003). Media education: Literacy, learning and contemporary culture. Cambridge: Polity Press. Available at–9780745628295

Chamberlin-Quinlisk, C. (2003). Media literacy in the ESL-EFL classroom: Reading images and cultural stories. TESOL Journal, 12(3), 35-39. 

Christ, W. G., & Potter, W. J. (1998). Media literacy, media education, and the academy. Journal of Communication, 48(1), 5-15. 

Crosthwaite, P., Cheung, L., & Jiang, F. K. (2017). Writing with attitude: Stance expression in learner and professional dentistry research reports. English for Specific Purposes, 46, 107-123.

Derewianka, B. (2003). Trends and issues in genre-based approaches. RELC Journal, 34(2), 133-154. 

Feez, S. (1998). Text-based syllabus design. Sydney: NCELTR, Macquarie University.

Feez, S. (2002). Heritage and innovation in second language education. In A. Johns (Ed.), Genres in the classroom (pp. 43-72). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Hinchey, P. H. (2003). What’s new In…: Introduction: Teaching media literacy: Not if, but why and how. The Clearing House, 76(6), 268-270. 

Iedema, R. A. (1997). The structure of the accident news story. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics20(2), 95-118. 

Iedema, R., Feez, S., & White, P. R. R. (1994). Media literacy. Sydney, NSW: Department of School Education.

Kim, M. (2007). Genre-based approach to teaching writing. Teaching English as Second Language, 33-39.

Kongpetch, S. (2006). Using a genre-based approach to teach writing to Thai students: A case study. Prospect, 21(2), 3-33.

Mardh, I. (1980). Headlinese: On the grammar of English front page headlines. Malmö, Sweden: CWK Gleerup.

Martin, J. R. (2009). Genre and language learning: A social semiotic perspective. Linguistics and Education20(1), 10-21. 

Martin, J. R., & Rose, D. (2008). Genre relations: Mapping culture. London: Equinox.

Martin, J. R., & White, P. R. R. (2005). The language of evaluation: Appraisal in English. Basingstoke: Palgrave/Macmillan.

Miller, C. R. (1984). Genre as social action. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 70(2), 151-167. 

Nagao, A. (2019). The SFL genre-based approach to writing in EFL contexts. Asian-Pacific Journal of Second and Foreign Language Education4(6), 1-18. 

Nagao, A. (2022). A Genre-Based Approach to Teaching Descriptive Report Writing to Japanese EFL University Students. TESL-EJ26(3), 1-28.

Paltridge, B. (2001). Genre and the language learning classroom. Michigan, US: University of Michigan Press. 

Rose, D. (2007). A reading based model of schooling. Pesquisas em Discurso Pedagógico, 7(1), 20. 

Rose, D. (2008). Reading genre: A new wave of analysis. Linguistics and the Human Sciences2(2), 185-204.

Rose, D., & Martin, J. R. (2012). Learning to write, reading to learn: Genre, knowledge and pedagogy in the Sydney school. London: Equinox.

Rothery, J. (1994). Exploring literacy in school English (Write it right resources for literacy and learning). Sydney: Metropolitan East Disadvantaged Schools Program.

Signes, C. G. (2001). Language teaching and media literacy. In Ferrer, H. et al. (Eds.), Teaching English in a Spanish setting (pp. 123-136). València: Universitat de València.

Srinon, U. (2011). A longitudinal study of developments in the academic writing of Thai university students in the context of a genre based pedagogy, (Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation), University of Adelaide, Australia. Available at

Swales, J. (1990). Genre analysis: English in academic and research settings. New York: Cambridge University Press.

van Dijk, T. A. (1988). News as discourse. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

White, P. R. R. (1997). Death, disruption and the moral order: The narrative impulse in mass- media ‘hard news’ reporting. In F. Christie & J. R. Martin (Eds.), Genres and institution: Social processes in the workplace and school (pp. 101-133). London: Cassell.

White, P. R. R. (1998). Telling media tales: The news story as rhetoric. (Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation), University of Sydney, Australia. Available at

Woodward-Kron, R. (2002). Disciplinary learning through writing: An investigation into the      writing development of undergraduate education students. (Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation), University of Wollongong, Australia. Available at


Received: 12/02/2023  
Accepted: 03/05/2024 
Published: 03/20/2024   

Dr. Abdulmohsin A. Alshehri is an assistant professor of Linguistics. He was awarded a doctorate degree from the University of New South Wales, Australia, after being awarded a master degree from the University of Adelaide, Australia. His research interests lie within the areas of applied linguistics, discourse analysis, educational linguistics, literacy development and ESL/EFL, genre-based pedagogy and Systemic Functional Linguistics. ORCID: