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ESL Teacher Blog
The teacher's point of view: thoughts, observations and ideas about ESL teaching.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

ESL Teacher Blog: Write It Down Again, Again and Again

Writing is a difficult skill to learn and a difficult skill to teach.  Any students who plan on attending high school or post-secondary school in an English speaking country will need to improve their writing skills. 


When I’m teaching writing, I often assign students compositions about famous people.  I like using this topic because information is readily available to the students and they don’t have to spend a lot of time researching.  I also like using this topic because it’s quite impersonal.  I don’t want the compositions turning into reflective pieces. 


In class I review the structure of the composition--introduction, a body of at least 3 paragraphs, and a conclusion.  I remind students not to write the introduction or the conclusion until they have written the body of their composition.  I review paragraphs with the class, and remind them that each paragraph should be about only one main point.  I remind students that each paragraph should have an opening and a closing sentence.  Students dutifully write down everything I say in their notebooks.  Then for homework they start writing their compositions.


I check their first drafts for sentence structure and organization.  The students make the necessary changes.  Then I check their next drafts for spelling and grammar.  Again the students make the necessary changes.  Then I check their third drafts for logic, cohesion and content.  The students make the necessary changes a third time and submit a final copy to me to be marked.


Students usually don’t understand why they need to write so many drafts of the composition, or why I won’t point out all their mistakes on their first drafts.  But realistically they would be overwhelmed by the amount of red ink on their papers if I made all the corrections at once.  They must realize that writing is a process that takes time.  It’s important to have the strong foundation of good sentence structure and organization, before focusing on spelling, grammatically errors or style.


When teaching writing I stress to my students that their writing will not improve immediately.  They must be patient and not expect to immediately become competent writers of English.


POSTED BY Cecelia Sumi AT 5:08 PM   2 Comments  Add Comment


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