Monday, March 28, 2011

TEACHING WRITING IN VARIOUS TEACHING METHODS


INTRODUCTION

English has four basic skills which are divided into productive and receptive skills. Productive contains speaking and writing while receptive consists of listening and reading. Among those four skills, writing is often considered as the most difficult one to master.  It is easier to speak than to write. People may not think when speaking but surely they will think when wanting to write.


In speaking it is not to fatal to ignore the role of grammar and structure of a sentence. It is not difficult to find people make a lot of grammatical disorders when they speak. As long as the ideas are uttered, and the listeners understand, no one complains about the mistakes. But it will be a different case in writing. Readers will easily notice the mistake and get bothered by them. When this thing happens, they will stop reading and the writer’s idea will not be delivered.

There fore, it is not a mistake to say that writing is both art and craft. It is an art because it forces the writer’s inspiration in uttering their ideas. It is a craft because it demands skills, patience, and practice to do well. However, the process is sometimes boring and tiring. 

Learning to write is one of the most difficult tasks a learner encounters and one that few people can be said to fully master. Many students leave school with a poor ability of writing. Yet good writing skills are essential to academic success and a requirement for many occupations and profession.[1] For students who are beginning to study writing, the teachers play an important role in teaching and encouraging them. Teacher should be able to deal with the boredom and desperation of their students in order to help them learn writing skills. Many methods of teaching are helpful for teachers and this paper will presents to you some of them.



TEACHING WRITING IN VARIOUS TEACHING METHODS

Many students have the mistaken idea that being able to write well is a talent that one either has or doesn’t have. This is not absolutely true. Students can learn to write effectively if they are willing to work hard with the help of teachers.

Good writing in English requires the ability to write good sentences and to organize them logically into paragraph and essays.[2] That’s why teaching writing is a little bit difficult. It may be easier if the students have mastered grammatical rules and know the way to write single sentence. However, many teaching methods are offered for the teachers. Yet the explanation will be preceded by approaches and strategies of teaching writing.

A.    APPROACHES
There are a number of different approaches to the practice of writing skills. Teachers need to choose between them, deciding whether we want students to focus more on the process of writing than its product, or vice versa.

a.       The product-focused approach
As its name, the focus of this approach is essentially on the ability to produce correct texts or ‘products’. The primary emphasis is to provide practice in producing different kinds of texts. A secondary goal is to prevent students from producing errors. Hence, instead of allowing students freedom to create their own compositions, techniques of controlled composition or guided writing are used, for they do not require the students to do any actual composition.[3]

b.       The process approach
In its simplest form a process approach asks students to consider the process of putting together a good piece of work. The aim is to get to the heart of various skills that should be employed when writing.[4] The teachers might discuss the concept of first and final draft with the students.

B.     STRATEGIES
Teachers who are concerned about helping students to be better writers tend to be pragmatic. They want the ideas and suggestions that they can use immediately to improve students performance. Teaching writing, however, has become a complex endeavor.[5] All have a significant influence on methodologies. But knowing the strategies will help teachers deal with it.

a.       Introduction
The most important factor in writing exercise is that students need to be personally involved in order to make learning experience of lasting value. Encouraging student participation in the exercise, while at the same time refining and expanding writing skills, requires a certain pragmatic approach. Teachers should be clear on what skills they try to develop. When the skill areas are defined, teachers can focus on developing the skills.

b.      Choosing a target area
Choosing the target area depends on many factors; what level are the students? What is the average age of the students, why are the students learning English, Are there any specific future intentions for the writing. Once these factors are clear in the mind of the teacher, the teacher can begin to focus on how to involve the students in the activity thus promoting a positive, long-term learning experience.

c.       Which means?
Having decided on the target area, the teacher can focus on the means to achieve this type of learning. As in correction, the teacher must choose the most appropriate manner for the specified writing area. If formal business letter English is required, it is of little use to employ a free expression type of exercise. Likewise, when working on descriptive language writing skills, a formal letter is equally out of place. 

d.      Planning the class
With both the target area and means of production clear in the teacher's mind, the teacher can begin to consider how to involve the students by considering what type of activities are interesting to the students. By choosing a topic that involves the students the teacher is providing a context within which effective learning on the target area can be undertaken. Most importantly, by choosing the correct means of correction the teacher can encourage rather discourage students.[6]

1.      Guided Writing
Guided writing is an individual or group activity where learners use word maps to organize their ideas and write texts.

Here are the steps to follow to use guided writing:
  1.       Choose, or have the learner choose, a topic to write about
  2.       Make a word map.
    •       Write the word map for the beginning learner.
    •       Help the intermediate learner write the word map.
    •       Have the advanced learner write the word map.
  3.       Have the learner create a text from the map and write it down.
    •       Allow the beginning writer to use inventive spelling.
    •      Help the intermediate learner write the text.
  4.        Have the learner read the text out loud, or help the learner read the text

2.      Free Writing
Free writing — also called writing free stream-of-consciousness writing — is a prewriting technique in which a person writes continuously for a set period of time without regard to spelling, grammar, or topic. It produces raw, often unusable material, but helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and self-criticism. It is used mainly by prose writers and writing teachers. Some writers use the technique to collect initial thoughts and ideas on a topic, often as a preliminary to formal writing. 

C.     METHODS
After the teachers have implemented the strategies, they may use many teaching methods that appropriate with the class. Here are three methods they can use.

a.       Grammar translation method
This method is an old one. People have used it through centuries in teaching foreign language, especially in comprehending literature works. Even though the fundamental goal of this method is to be able to read literature written in the target language, it is also believed that the primary skills to be developed are reading and writing. Little attention is given to speaking and listening, and almost none to pronunciation.[7]

In this method, teaching writing can be done by giving students an articles or a passage written in their native language and asking them to translate it into English. Sometimes it is also good to ask students to write down the conclusion of the passage. Teachers also may give students a topic to write about in the English. The topic is based upon some aspects of the passage they translate. So it is such a very basic way that writing is done by translation.

b.      Communicative Language Teaching
The communicative approach has stressed the significance of language function than focused on grammar and vocabulary. “How to teach” aspect of this method is closely related to the idea that language learning will take care of itself. Activities in CLT usually involve students in realistic communication. The students may be asked to perform a drama, simulate a television program and so on. 

Besides, teacher who teach writing using this method have their students to write a script about what they will perform. In this way, learning writing will need students to work together as a group. Sometimes they have to write a poem or construct a story together. In writing, the students should be focused on the content of what they are writing rather than on a particular language form.[8] Because the purpose of this method is to gain the ability to communicate, the accuracy of language they use is less important.

c.       Peer editing method
One of the biggest consumptions of teachers’ time is the correcting and grading of writing. As with all instruction, it is important to give the students the maximum amount of feedback but the process of evaluation should also provide a venue for the maximum amount of learning. 

Writing and evaluation are two sides of the same coin. To grow as writers, the students must learn to develop an editorial eye by continuously re-engaging each piece of text. In this case, peer editing should be an integral part of your instructional design.

Here are four steps in implementing peer editing method:
1.                     1. Have the students exchange papers and evaluate each other’s work using the colored rubric sheets. It is always hard to edit one’s own work so exchanging papers gives each writer a fresh pair of eyes and it also allows them the new perspective in which to apply their editorial skills.
  1.       The students should put their own name as the “editor” at the top of the colored feedback sheets that they fill-out. The editorial process should be viewed as its own assignment.
  2.       When the editor finds an error, they should not only mark it but find a relevant reference in their text that explains why this is an error and how to fix it.
  3.       Based on the feedback they receive, have the student writers correct their own papers. When they turn the assignment in to you they should staple or clip together (a) the revised paper and (b) the editing sheet they received with a classmate’s name on it.[9]


CONCLUSION

The methods of teaching writing are not separated from its approaches and strategies. To apply some methods successfully, teachers usually need the help of -or know about- those two things. Basically, there are two approaches in teaching: The Product and The Process approach. The name of the methods indicates what they concern about.

Strategies of teaching writing usually divided in to four parts: Introduction, Choosing the Target Areas, Which Means, and Planning the Class. Then, teachers can start teaching using methods like Grammar Translation, Communicative Language, and Peer Editing.

Current approaches, strategies, and methods to the teaching of writing appear to be more effective. However, any attempt to reduce teaching of writing to a system or sets of formulas, or to turn the process approach into a method with prescribed techniques and practices, should be avoided. The effective writing teacher is not one who has developed a method for the teaching of writing, but one who can create an effective environment for learning, in which students feel comfortable and can explore the nature of writing, and lead to discover their own strengths and weakness.








REFERENCE

Harmer, Jeremy. The Practice of English Language Teaching.  London: Longman.
Larsen – Freeman, Diane. 1986. Techniques and principles in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
William, James D. 2003. Preparing to Teach Writing Research, Theory, and Practice. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
 Richard, Jack C. 1995. The Language Teaching Matrix. Cambridge University Press.
Hoshima and Ann Hogue, Alice. 1998.  Writing Academic English. London: Longman.



[1] Jack C. Richard, The Language Teaching Matrix, Cambridge University Press 1995, p. 100
[2] Alice Hoshima and Ann Hogue, Writing Academic English, 3rd ed., Longman 1998, p. xi
[3] Jack C. Richard, The Language Teaching Matrix, Cambridge University Press 1995, p. 107
[4] Jeremy Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching, Longman p.257
[5] James. D. William, Preparing to Teach Writing Research, Theory, and Practice, 3rd ed., Lawrence Erlbaum Associates New Jersey 2003, p.3
[7] Diane Larsen – Freeman, Techniques and principles in Language Teaching, Oxford University Press 1986, p.16
[8] Jeremy Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching, Longman London ,p.85
[9] http://www.thewritingteacher.org/

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