Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, Vol 12, No 3 (2015)

The reception of US student motivation letters: The function, form and significance of the genre in the Spanish university discourse community

María Jesús Fernández-Gil
Issued Date: 28 Aug 2019


Although student motivation letters are yet to receive interest within Spanish scholarly circles, the genre is starting to be used to gauge students’ potential for university admission, especially at the master’s and doctoral levels. This paper intends to establish the current status of motivation letters in the Spanish university discourse community and to determine the genre’s basic features (communicative purpose, structure, content and style) as it is developing in Spanish. Public information on Spanish motivation letters, drawn from a survey of online and print material for writing effective motivation letters and from a selection of 25 Master of Business Administration programmes, indicates that the genre is not well established. Genre analysis of eight samples specifically tailored by Spanish universities further points towards genre instability and differences – as regards salient features – from its counterpart in the United States. My findings show that the communicative purpose of the genre within the Spanish context is informed by the cultural norms and preferences shared by members of the Spanish academic milieu.

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DOI: 10.1558/jalpp.34870


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