Within the migrant education ESL sector, the same principles and teaching procedures have been applied, but advocating the use of ‘workplace texts’ (Joyce 1992). Genre-based literacy education aims to empower learners to participate fully in society, through control of its accepted ways of ‘meaning’. In the workplace, Joyce argues, significant industrial changes taking place over recent decades, including award restructuring, multi-skilling and broadbased training, have placed far greater literacy demands on workers at all levels than ever before. Getting and maintaining employment is more difficult than in the past and workers without appropriate English and general language skills will be greatly disadvantaged.

Workers will encounter and be expected to produce many texts including recounts (e.g. shift handover reports), procedures (equipment instructions), notices, meeting agendas, application forms, and safety booklets. These need to be incorporated into language classes, as research has shown that more general approaches to reading and writing do not prepare workers for the literacy tasks of the workforce (Joyce 1992:4).

The recommended teaching cycle starts with building knowledge of the field/context (differentiating the text from others, identifying social purpose), then moves through modelling (identifying generic structure, distinctive language features), joint construction, and independent construction (Joyce 1992:51). With its emphasis on the interlinking of social context, whole texts and linguistic forms, genre theory is eminently a form of discourse analysis and provides useful tools in both ESL (migrant workers) and EFL (e.g. assignment writing in Canada) situations, as Section 3.5, in particular, will attempt to illustrate.