November 19, 2009

“Word DO come easy”… What do we think when we think about writing??

Traditionally, teacher had thought that producing a good piece of writing should have been innate in the students mind. A writing task was seen as a product required to be passed at a certain level in the English class. As we can see in Gladys Baya's presentation, mental blocking and frustration were very common feeling for our students.

There has been a movement for almost twenty years to consider writing within the learning process, and as Tricia Hedge defines in her Teaching and Learning in the language Classroom, writing became "the result of employing strategies to manage the composing process, which is one of gradually developing a text". With this change in the way writing was perceived, we will need to focus on our responsibility as facilitators of the learning process on training our students into process writing and on the new role this skill has acquired, a productive skill for real communication.

Gladys suggests us several techniques for training our students into process writing; ideas that Hedge would categorize as "helping students to generate ideas" and "providing opportunities for planning". She will go a bit further and she will give us tips for correcting and giving feedback to pieces of writing that had gone through the process. It is up to us, encourage our students writing for authentic audiences such us blog readers (have a look at Maria's students writing) or students from other classes in other parts of the world (have a look at Gladys' students interaction with other classes), the more meaningful we can make writing for them, the easier it would be for them to find the words to express themselves.

I invite you to discover all you can learn from this teacher who enabled me as a facilitator for my students own processes. Only by becoming aware of the role we want writing to have in our classes and in our students' lives is that we can change the fossilized image of writing as a static product.

Based on Tricia Hedge, Teaching and Learning in Language Classroom, Oxford, 2000
(Chapter 9)


  1. I really loved your entry, Yohi!
    I trully believe that before giving our students any writing tasks we should definitely decide first what role we want writing to have in our classroom.
    Because as soon as we decide on a specific role we will have to decide as well on the requirements, the evaluation criteria and the types of texts that we want our students to handle.
    Obvious as it may sound, it is essential for us to be coherent with our evaluation criteria. Teachers tend to focus a bit too much on language accuracy and, consequently, should keep in mind what the objective of that writing piece was: if it was communication then what we must evaluate is whether communication really took place and not merely the tenses and vocabulary our students used...
    Excellent post!
    And Gladys's presentation is also very good, I saw it when I was working with the one I chose.
    See you tomorrow,

  2. Thanks for your comment!!! I totally agree with coherent as the main characteristic for our correction criteria!!!

    Keep on commenting!!!

    see u tomorrow :)

  3. Excelletn post! I must say I agree with both of you. I cant talk from a teacher's position here, cause most of my teahing experience is giving particular accademic help and my students dont usually get writing tasks. But I can comment from the place of a student, and, particularly, an English student.
    I can remember my CAE composition teacher, she'd give us two comopsitions every week. I remember at first I always got band B- or even C and I couldn't understand why if I paid a lot of attendtion to the structure of the different thigs to write (letters, essays, etc) But when I read what the teacher wrote on the papers, some of them would say: Task: complete (Great! I though) Organization: well-organized (Again, great!) Accuracy: minimal errors (Not too bad!) But, at the end she'd put: Target reader: might be confused (Oh! I thought, wtf?!) But after finding that in two or three papers I finally got the idea, even though accuracy, structure, and following the task, was important, one of the most important things was that the writing actually communicated something... Once I got that, I could reach my goal of getting my so wished As in the writing paper ^_^ and find the beautiful phrase after Target reader: "will be well informed" :D. And thats the main point of writing after all, of course, trying to use that to learn how to write an accurate paper, well-organized and following the task correctly.



  4. Dear Yoha: Allow me, for once, to give up this "game" of wearing a different hat from the one I wear when meeting you f2f in class, and focus on one line in your entry: this teacher ... enabled me as a facilitator for my students own processes.

    First, let me simply say "THANKS!!!" I believe your words are the best "reward" a trainer might expect. Now, changing topics, I'm glad you've come to see yourself as a facilitator of your students' learning. They'll be so lucky to have you as their teacher!!!
    Whereas you focus on the importance of thinking of the purpose for writing, Dido's comment helps us understand how feedback can contribute to enhancing a learner's writing, instead of just encouraging or frustrating them. And Alez reminds us of the need to be coherent in our evaluation criteria... All of you have identified crucial aspects of teaching writing. Needless to say this is a complex task, but I'm positive the 3 of you are on the right track to making outstanding writing teachers!
    Way to go!