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Adriana Cabrera Fiat

Helping students develop the writing skill. There are a wide range of writing activities that can be included inside and outside the classroom. However, there are some important things I take into account when introducing any of these activities. That is to say, writing should be enjoyable, a way of conveying thoughts and feelings, as well as a way of communicating with others. In general, with beginner writers I focus on the meaning of what they wish to say rather than the form so that they can begin to think of themselves as capable writers. In this way, they would be willing to take risks so as to express their own ideas in detail. Once this has been achieved, I introduce the process of editing and re-writing. Reflecting on some reasons why my students are reluctant to write: On a whole, students have had little positive writing experiences and they are afraid of spelling incorrectly, or producing pieces of writing which look sloppy. Moreover, they are not used to writing even in their mother tongue and thus having to acquire a new habit in foreign language, can be quite the challenge. Some steps I usually follow to help students develop the writing skill: First I help students discover what they want to say or write about. I believe that it is the teacher who has to guide students to prepare and present their ideas for writing, activating their prior knowledge and experiences, as well as introducing and practising useful vocabulary they will need at the moment of putting pen onto paper. . Secondly, I assist them in planning and gathering information, according to the topic and type of writing. It is a good idea to give students good models, practising form as well as meaning. For instance, the teacher and students create a cooperative writing

either orally or on the board. I also provide them as much authentic writing as possible. If there is enough time, I encourage group or pair writing before independent writing. This can be done in class or outside, although in class is

Adriana Cabrera Fiat


prefereable. Once this stage has been completed, they swap their pieces of

writing for correction. The independent writing stage can be done for homework. Students should be aware of the fact that independent writing has many stages, that is to say: drafting, revising (I always have students read over what they have written) and editing. It is crucial to give students time to write and rewrite their production. Last but not least, it is essential to give proper feedback. I tend to give positive feedback on the content of their work. Then, on the process of rereading, revising and editing, I encourage them to correct their own work. This is not an easy task; however, it gives them a sense of independence and ownership. I do not expect them to correct everything, but at least it is worth encouraging them to do so. Feedback should be given along with the composition process, not just at the end. As far as I see it, there is no single writing process that everyone follows. It can be taken into account the pinball machine metaphor, in which the teacher can plan a certain sequence of events; however, he/she might find the whole process taking a very different course depending on each student. This includes many points to consider; to mention: class participation, reading course materials, brainstorming, listing, clustering, talking to classmates, searching the internet, starting a draft, spell-checking and editing among others. Finally, I ask my students to keep a portfolio of their writings. It should include not only the editing, but also the previous versions. I make them be aware of their own process, needs, progress and achievements. They are fully aware that I also use this as part of their assessment and I strongly recommend it to other teachers as well. Bibliography Marianne Celse-Murcia,,Heinle (2001)Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language. Nunan, David (1998) Second Language Teaching & Learning Nunan, David (2011)Teaching English to Young Learners

Adriana Cabrera Fiat


Harmer, Jeremy (2012) Teacher Knowledge