- Slides: 19
WRITING SKILLS Lecture 5
Developing Skills 5. 1 The importance of demonstrating progress • At the post-elementary level, it is essential that, whatever the scope of the writing programme, it should not lose direction and momentum. • This means that the writing programme must be carefully planned to develop a mastery of new skills, which the learners can use for a continually expanding range of tasks. • At the same time, since the writing will still be guided to a large extent, we need to make the activities as varied as possible, avoiding a monolithic approach which relies on a limited range of exercise types.
5. 1. 1 The main features of the writing programme (a) The writing programme should continue to provide opportunities for reinforcing language learned orally (b) The writing programme should be designed to include a greater range of the resources of the written language (c) The amount of control over what the learners write should be reduced (d) The range of communication tasks should be extended
5. 1. 2 The role of the teacher • It has been emphasized that this is a delicate and crucial stage of the writing programme. • It is especially important, therefore, too: (a) Get the right balance of writing activities. (b) Ensure that the type of writing activity and the formats used to practise these are sufficiently varied so that the students do not get bored. (c) Gauge carefully the amount of guidance required.
5. 2 Reinforcement activities • The need to provide opportunities for practicing what has been learned orally continues throughout this stage, although the increasing use of texts other than dialogues now makes it possible to introduce writing activities which are based more directly on a reading text. • As dialogue writing has almost outlived its usefulness as a writing activity, in order to continue using it, we must look for fresh ways of presenting it to the learners. • The suggestions for reinforcement activities can be classified according to the type of writing involved.
5. 2. 1 Dialogue writing (a) The students are given a model dialogue, together with cues for writing parallel versions. (b) The students are given an incomplete dialogue, together with instructions for completing it. These do not specify the actual words to be used. (c) The students write the complete dialogue. They are given an outline or ‘map’ of the dialogue, but none of the actual words to be used. (d) The students write a dialogue for which the setting is defined and some suggestions are given for the language to be used.
5. 2. 2 writing notes and letters • By this stage the students are already familiar with writing informal letters, but there are various things we can do to give this activity a new slant. • For example, we can teach new ways of beginning and ending letters. • We can also see that the students are given systematic opportunities to practice writing letters which have, overall, a specific function such as making an apology (a complaint, an excuse), sending congratulations, giving directions, etc. , and at the same time show such tasks will require very different uses of language on different occasions and in particular how these depend on the relationship between the writer and the person he is addressing.
(a) The students are given a model text, together with cues for writing parallel versions. (b) The students are given an incomplete text, with suggestions or instructions about how to complete it. (c) The students complete a text by expanding notes. (d) The students write the complete text. They are given guidance for the content but not for the language to be used.
5. 2. 3 Writing short reports • The students may also be given a guided introduction to writing reports. • For this, guidance should focus chiefly on the organization and orderly presentation of ideas. (a) As a preliminary step, the students complete forms similar to this one. (b) The students are given a model text, together with cues for writing parallel versions. (c) The students are given a model text and, after focused practice (e. g. identifying advantages and disadvantages) are asked to write a parallel one.
5. 3 Sentence linking and sequencing activities • It has been suggested that this component of the writing programming should be extended and strengthened by varying the formats for practice to include formal letters (for this the students must be given appropriate models) and reports, and by expanding the basic kit of linking devices. • Following suggestions for activities are given next.
(a) The students complete a short text by using suitable linking words or phrases. (b) The students combine sentences so that they form an acceptable sequence. (c) The students rewrite texts within the frameworks of a related outline. (d) The students form texts from a list of jumbled sentences. (e) The students do exercises which specifically direct their attention to the way ideas are organized in a text. (f) The students write texts based on a model that has a clear logical development.
5. 4 Reproduction exercises • These resemble dictations, in that the students have to listen to a text which is read aloud to them. • However, instead of being asked to take this down segment by segment, which makes dictation a somewhat artificial exercise, they listen to the complete text a number of times (usually three or more) before they are asked to write. • They are then required to ‘reproduce’ the text they have heard as accurately as possible, but they may fill in with their own words where their memory of the original fails them.
• Like dictation, this type of activity also involves careful listening and the transformation of what is heard into its written form. • However, it focuses much more on grasping the overall meaning of a text and in particular how one sentence relates to another. • We can also make our own ‘rules’ for this activity. • For example, the students may be allowed to make brief notes during the final reading. • Alternatively, we may write key words and phrases on the board, to remind the students of some of the main ideas. • In either case, we thus ensure that the activity does not become just a test of memory. • We may also write a framework of linking words and sequencing devices on the board, so that in effect we give the students a structural ‘skeleton’ around which the text can be ‘reproduced’.
5. 5 Communication activities • At this stage, it is important that communication activities should match the growing ability of the learners to express themselves through the written form of the language. • They should, therefore, in first instance be on a much more extensive scale, compared with the modest tasks of sending messages and notes. • They must also be more challenging. • With this type of writing activity, the students may of course make mistakes, as with free oral expression, but the important thing, from the point of view of motivation, is to demonstrate that writing is a purposeful activity.
• You should also encourage and help the students to find penfriends as a way of extending communication practice. • From time to time you can also conduct all or part of the lesson entirely through the medium of writing so that the students really appreciate what is involved in giving and receiving instructions, requests, etc. in this way. • In the activities below, more use is now made of roelplay, although not to the exclusion of other activities where the students write as themselves. • The list of suggestions below, which is intended to indicate typical activities rather than to be exhaustive, frequently involves some form of collaboration in the writing task.
5. 5. 1 Roleplay activities (a) The Estate Agency (b) The Magazine Advice Column (c) The News Desk (d) Job vacancies (e) Complaints (f) Campaigns (g) Notices (h) Rules and regulations (i) Market research
5. 5. 2 Report writing activities (a) Our town (b) Public interviews (c) Private interviews (d) Book reports (e) Noticeboard (f) Refrences (g) Class wallsheet
5. 6 Writing for fun • We can go on using many of the activities suggested for fun writing in Chapter 4. In fact it is important to do this because it demonstrates to the students how much more they can get out of an activity as their proficiency in the language increases. • Amongst the activities suggested, it is especially important to go on using questionnaires and quizzes, jumbled texts, role descriptions, imaginary diaries and writing about pictures and speech bubbles. • For writing about pictures in particular we can begin to expect more than just a few sentences and ideas jotted down.
(a) Posing problems (b) Writing clues for crosswords (c) Instructions for a game (d) Role descriptions (e) Scenarios (f) Inaccurate accounts (g) Jumbles stories (h) Jigsaw writing (i) Instructions for drawing a map or picture (j) Headlines (k) Graffiti