Becoming proficient in writing

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Becoming proficient in writing

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1. Becoming proficient in writing Omaggio chapter 7

2. What is “writing”? How is writing – or the various skills associated with writing – presented, taught and practiced in the course you teach? Are you satisfied with this approach?

3. What is “writing”? Learning to write in any language is more than just writing things down. What does “writing” entail? Brainstorm a list of skills needed to write in the L2…

4. How to define “writing” Some scholars suggest using more precise terminology to capture the complexity of “writing” (Bizzell, Dvorak, Magnan, Rivers, etc.) Composing (all processes; focus on meaning) Writing (transcription of material) Transcription (focus on form)

5. Continuum of skills For second and foreign languages, we might best view “writing” as a continuum of skills, ranging from basic to complex:

6. Magnan (1985): at beginning levels of FL learning writing can be viewed as a “support skill” for speaking and later developed as a communicative art. Rivers (1975) distinguishes between skill-getting and skill-using activities Skill-getting: how the language works Skill-using: purposeful communication HOW TO BRIDGE THIS GAP? Choose personal and meaningful tasks

7. What do we know about writing? Writing in an L2 may be more complex than in an L1 due to psycholinguistic complications (Kroll 1990) We should not assume that proficient L1 writers will be successful in the L2 automatically Learners use different approaches and different processes General lack of research on L2 writing (except ESL)

8. What is a “good” writer? Knowledge of conventions of written discourse. Linguistic skills and variety. Different genres are approached differently; not all writing is linear.

9. Krashen (1984) – characteristics of good writers Good writers plan. Good writers stop to reread often. Good writers revise. Proficient writers often write recursively. If this is true, then, we should encourage these things in our L2 learners as they learn to write.

10. L1 research on writing Teaching grammar in isolation does not impact grammatical accuracy in writing. Sentence-combining practice, if regular, can improve composition skills. Using models of good writing may benefit learners. Using criteria/checklists for editing/peer revisions has positive effect. Free writing practice may not be beneficial. Inconclusive findings regarding teacher feedback.

11. L2 research on writing Far less work has been carried out, and findings are inconclusive. Evaluation Students should be involved in their own correction; some studies find that form-focused feedback is not helpful, while others find it is How should we point out errors? Should we correct them? Which errors should we mark?

12. L2 research on writing Focus on form Studies find that supplemental grammar-focused activities may result in increased accuracy in writing. Peer evaluation Peer reviews may focus Ss’ attention more on content than accuracy

13. Teaching writing as creating communication There are different approaches to writing (ESL): Controlled-to-Free (accuracy) Free-Writing (fluency based, little correction) Paragraph-Pattern (organization) Grammar-Syntax-Organization Communicative Process However, there is overlap and there is no one right way. Be ECLECTIC!

14. Editing Having Ss write multiple drafts of a composition allows them to focus on form and content at different times.

15. Evaluation Teachers generally respond with: Corrective feedback on microlevel Overall macrolevel content evaluation (grade) Holistic scoring – highest construct validity; multiple criteria Analytical scoring – separating elements for separate grading Primary Trait scoring – scores assigned holistically based on specific features What do you think is best?

16. What would you say? Two of your language teacher colleagues are having an argument: one feels that students must correct all of their writing errors if they are ever to learn the right forms. The other feels that errors will disappear over time if students have enough opportunity to practice writing. These teachers ask for your opinion. What do you say?

17. Sample activities and topic ideas

18. Free writing Dialogue Journals Can be used at any level Free composition provides students outlet to express themselves and carry on dialogue (written) with instructor Generally graded only for content/completion, not accuracy What are some advantages and disadvantages?

19. Teaching writing at the Low Proficiency Levels Teaching writing as a support skill Skills should be practiced in an interdependent fashion Even at this stage there is concern for structuring tasks so that students can begin to write in discourse-length frames

20. Sample Activity Ideas Simple description with visuals Content: Objects in a room Functions: Identifying, listening, description Task: Ss describe simple picture using recently learned vocabulary; can be given guiding prompts in L2 Follow-up:T provides own description; Ss share and compare descriptions, etc.

21. Sample Activity Ideas Guided description with student-generated visual Content: Personality traits, physical description Functions: Describing a person; likes/dislikes Task:Ss draw a picture of someone they know and several sentences describing the person Follow-up:??

22. Sample Activity Ideas Dictations Filling in Forms Ss listen to description of items in restaurant and fill in blanks on a menu Ss listen to “dating” personal ads and fill in the personal info they hear on a form Ss send an electronic postcard online (site asks for specific information) Cinquain (or other) – Ss write “poetry” by following a simple framework

23. Teaching Writing at Intermediate Level At this level Ss can begin to progress from structured writing (as skill) to writing at advanced levels. Intermediate writing tasks can ask students to create in familiar contexts, using relatively simple language As skills develop, a wider variety of tasks and skills can be incorporated.

24. Sample Activity Ideas Slash sentences Context: Summer leisure activities Function: Simple narration in present Task: Ss write short narrative by using cues given; narrative is about someone else’s summer Follow-up and variations: Ss write about their own summer; Ss write in the past; Ss embellish narration with details regarding weather, setting, etc.

25. Sample Activity Ideas Telegraphic sentences Context: “Current” events Function: Reporting facts of a story Task: Ss given notes from an interview and asked to write up the story as a journalist Follow-up and variations: Ss interview other students for initial notes/story; Ss share stories; class votes on best, etc.

26. Sample Activity Ideas Partial translation Context: Visit abroad as exchange student Function: Writing a thank-you letter Task: S has just returned from study abroad and is writing a note to his host family; English is provided and partial L2 version provided; Ss complete the letter in L2 Follow-up and variations: ?

27. Sample Activity Ideas Sentence combining Context: Story in a film Function: Narrating a story Task: Ss given short, separate sentences that describe a visual and combine them logically/creatively; can focus on specific linguistic skills Follow-up and variations: ?

28. Sample Activity Ideas Paragraph completion Context: Personal appearance Function: Description Task: Ss given photo and partial description, asked to complete it Follow-up and variations: ?

29. Sample Activity Ideas Guided compositions Many researchers believe that presenting writing as a process approach is beneficial to learners (Hillocks 1986; Applebee 1986) Ss are presented with specific tasks, step-by-step, to engage students in the process of writing Generally progress from pre-writing and planning through writing, and finally revising

30. Sample Activity Ideas Guided composition: Trip abroad Context: A trip abroad Function: Narration, description Task: 1. Ss given visual and asked to brainstorm ideas; develop list of words, places, verbs, etc.; can be done in groups 2. Ss write more detailed description based on a sample first sentence given 3. Ss add details according to questions provided by instructor 4. Revision? Follow-up?

31. Sample Activity Ideas Guided composition < oral interview Context: Anything personalized Function: Narration, description Task: 1. Ss given list of topics and generate interview questions as a class 2. Ss interview someone in or out of class 3. Ss write up the interview (a number of possible formats, focuses) 4. Revision? Follow-up?

32. Sample Activity Ideas Writing Letters and Notes In general, intermediate learners are capable of writing 2-3 paragraph compositions on familiar, personal topics. Letters/notes are a perfect and realistic format for this kind of writing Postcard from vacation; letter home; etc.

33. Advanced level writing At the advanced level students can write on a wider variety of topics and need less structured guidance. However, they should still be provided with the process framework to help them structure their work.

34. Advanced level writing See pages 326-331 for sample advanced/superior activities for L2 writing.

35. Putting it in practice Create a realistic contextualized situation in which a Novice-level writer will carry out a communicative task. Look at the samples on pp. 286-288 in Omaggio for guidance. Explain the student task, indicate the functions, and, indicate how the writing sample will be evaluated.

36. Short response topic to prepare for next week’s readings... Do you think it is important to emphasize the teaching of culture in language classes? Why or why not? How do you see the relationship between language and culture? What are potential problems teachers might encounter in teaching culture?

37. Homework see calendar

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