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Writing First

By Mubarak Abdessalami

          It would be suitable for teachers to start training their students get acquainted with writing as early as their first year since their starting point with the target language should be based on solid basis and make them adapt good writing strategies. Actually, as it is not hard for the students to write a simple single sentence paragraph writing to write a compound one then to compose a paragraph of two or three sentences until writing becomes a habitual activity for them.

          It is advisable for the teacher not to ask them to write but about the topics they have already come across in the classroom like favourites for example. In this paper I'll try to show how things will go on slowly and with meditation.

          Normally beginner learners are taught to talk about their favourite sports, food, actors, actresses, singers and so on. Therefore, instead of writing separate discrete sentences, the students should be given the necessary tools and techniques to expand their product and shift from the boring broken sentences to a whole unified group of sentences.

          The teacher's job will be based on the two firsts the students should master about writing notably the form of the paragraph and its content. The latter is up to the students' background knowledge to achieve whereas the teacher's obligation in the first place is to show them how a paragraph is normally written so as to be logical and convincing thus eligible. This method engenders a trouble-free paragraph writing that will evolve with time and further studies.

          The students should first and foremost own the skill to develop a paragraph based on the three famous cohesive components namely:

          They should be encouraged to decide upon their favourites, let's say a dish or a meal for dinner. As their tastes differ so their topic sentences will, too. The topic sentence is normally stated in terms of each one's taste and preference. Let's make our way into the method through a prearranged sample.

Topic sentence:

My favourite dish for dinner is couscous.

          After the student has decided about his or her favourite dish, He or she should think about the motives behind choosing this dish not a different one. Surely he or she did for some reasons. So he or she should provide ideas that justify and reinforce his or her very choice of Couscous, (other students might choose Tagin, Soup (Harira), spaghetti or anything else). Each one has to be able to shape the exact ideas in accurate statements that correlate with the topic so as to be coherent and cohesive.

          Since this paragraph is partly persuasive, it has to focus on the detailed qualities of each specific choice. This would make the proof reader able to spot the very things which make this or that dish different, special and likable. The writing should be purposeful. It has to focus on convincing or at least making the reader believe that the student is sincere not just writing for the sake of writing. The student should avoid vague or confusing arguments like:

          These things have nothing specific and convincing about them. We definitely don't choose a dish just because everybody else does. So the student should show the merits of the choice. His or her individual view is worth underlining.

          Supporting details come to do this perfectly well. They should be topic related ideas and persuasive for both the student and the reader. Some of them may be set in this way:

Supporting details

          With time the students will be able to back each supporting detail with an example or two to make the paragraph rich, complete, realistic, credible, and hence believable.

          Once these ideas presented, the concluding sentence should be written in accordance with what has been stated in the topic sentence.

Concluding Sentence:

Couscous is my most preferred dish for dinner.

          The final outcome is so uncomplicated that the student surely gets astonished and therefore enjoys being able to write an authentic paragraph. The more training the student is used to, the more perfect his or her output will be. Moreover, once the student is exposed to opinion paragraph in advanced levels, he or she'll realize that writing a paragraph is not that complicated. He or she has just to formulate the appropriate layout and content to control the topic. This method will later help the students assimilate the thesis statement when they grow with writing difficulties in their higher studies.

          The trouble is that most teachers hang around until their students own a strong vocabulary, grammar and structure repertoire, before introducing them to the writing experience. This time the writing becomes a real ordeal. Nevertheless, if the students are trained and given the chance to write from the very beginning, writing will be as usual and easy as any other multiple choice or gap-filling exercise for them.

Circus technique in writing:

          Before anything can be done in this respect preparatory training to writing seems profitable to the process of accumulating techniques and background knowledge the student needs to face the "ordeal" of writing with confidence.

          No two would disagree that it is impossible for a teenager to do the trapezes unless he or she was trained to do so from a very early age. Our tough systemic error in teaching foreign languages is that we ignore teaching writing until it is too late for the students to get familiar with.
          Once the student is able to formulate a simple sentence composed of a subject, verb and object, he or she immediately is encouraged to venture into developing the sentence to a compound structure then a complex one.

          It is universally agreed upon that in order for anyone to excel in an act and to become a good performer, he or she has to lead through hard training and exercise so as to master the act.
          You cannot bring whoever from wherever and ask him or her to do tricks at the top of sway poles unless he or she has grown within a circus atmosphere. More than this, not anyone in the circus family could do that unless he or she is specialized in it. Each child in the circus should have a zest for a particular act before he or she is trained to take it for a career.

          In the circus they train them from an early age to swing from a trapeze, walk a wire, juggle or ride a unicycle through repetitive exercises in which they fall and have accidents before they could master it perfectly well. So we, teachers, must do with the writing skill. From an early level or learning English the students should be given the necessary techniques to write a paragraph and above all a lot of exercises with a lot of drafting and through repetitive mistakes and errors they'll quickly own a certain level of authority over the cohesive relationship between form and content in a writing act.

From one-sentence to two-sentence paragraph writing:
          The students learn to express their likes and dislikes at an early stage of their school years, so why don't we exploit this for more productivity. They can say for instance:

If the teacher provides the linker "because" and asks:

          Another level of combined learning strategies opens widely and the student's mind starts whirling looking for the reasons. If his or her first sentence was just built out of a model not sincere, he or she would reconsider it and looks for a more sincere one that he could justify. It is a matter of accuracy not just parrot like style.

          These steps could be dealt with in terms of many practices in the classroom. The students consequently will be enticed into writing without even being aware that what they are doing is practising an act to be a good performer with time.

Matching exercises:

  • Match the numbers with the letters to make correct statements
  • 1. Ali has usually had breakfast at homea. because my house is not far from school.
    2. Sandy can't ride a horseb. since he was at the primary school.
    3. I don't go to school by bikec. while her mother is preparing her meal.
    4. I like citrus fruits d. but she can drive a bus.
    5. The little boy is watching TVe. such as oranges and limes.

              As an outset to teaching writing and training the students to befriend with it, this step is necessary. They should recognize how the parts of speech work together to make meaning. The linkers or connectors are the backbone of good writing. This exercise tests the students' ability to make meaningful utterances. This exercise can be adapted to the students' levels. Later on you can assign the same exercise but a little modification to make it a bit more challenging:

  • Fill in the blanks using the appropriate linkers from the list:

    Becausebutsincesuch aswhile

    1. Ali has usually had breakfast at home he was at the primary school.
    2. Sandy can't ride a horse she can drive a bus.
    3. I don't go to school by bike my house is not far from school.
    4. I like citrus fruits oranges and limes.
    5. The little boy is watching TV her mother is preparing her meal.


    1. Ali has usually had breakfast at home he was at the primary school.
    2. Sandy can't ride a horse she can drive a bus.
    3. I don't go to school by bike my house is not far from school.
    4. I like citrus fruits oranges and limes.
    5. The little boy is watching TV her mother is preparing her meal.

  • Match the following sentences using the appropriate linkers from the list:

    Becausebutsincesuch aswhile

    1. Ali has usually had breakfast at homea. my house is not far from school.
    2. Sandy can't ride a horseb. he was at the primary school.
    3. I don't go to school by bikec. her mother is preparing her meal.
    4. I like citrus fruitsd. she can drive a bus.
    5. The little boy is watching TVe. oranges and limes.

              Once the meaning is gotten and the linkers are used appropriately another step shows in. The assignment could be more production directed exercise when it is done this way:

  • Complete the following sentences using your own words:
  • 1. Ali has usually had breakfast at home since
    2. Sandy can't ride a horse, but
    3. I don't go to school by bike because
    4. Last summer I visited many cities such as
    5. The little boy is watching TV while

              This method is aiming at giving the students the opportunity to gain sane self-based writing strategies. They would learn that content is eventually what makes the difference. The form or skeleton of the paragraph is nothing if it doesn't bear a strong content totally competitive. The student is not writing alone. His or her writing is to be evaluated in comparison with his or her classmates'. Besides the mastery of the correct syntactic structure of compound sentences, one has to have enough imagination and logic combined together to make one's writing the best. When the culminating step arrives, the student should have been able to harness the content and the form in a coherent and cohesive way. He or she should be prepared to write something legible with a great amount of 'whys' first then with 'whats' and 'hows'. Here is perhaps the very scrupulous question for which all those thing are needed. What makes it scrupulous? It's its being based on one's own ideas and feelings not on important or ready made arguments. This same question, however, could ask to assess you on any other personal view.

                        What would you like to be in the future? And why?

    Some students wrote,

    Aren't these good paragraphs after all?

              The more the topic is opinion based; the more valid it is to make way into good writing.

  • Which Imperial City in Morocco do you like best?

              I like Marrakesh best because it is one of the oldest Imperial Cities in Morocco and it is the most exciting one. It has got a lot of interesting Historic Monuments such as Koutoubia Mosque, Elbadie Castle and so on. Also it has many famous places like El Mamounia Hotel but Marrakesh is very hot in the summer. To my mind, Marrakesh is the greatest Moroccan Imperial City.

              For a beginner this is more than just good taking into account his or her level or performance and English language background knowledge. Good students make their way into more perfection with hard work and intensive exercises. No doubt, they'll soon be good performers and may introduce a thesis statement to enlarge their writing into two paragraphs or more as they master the different facets of the skill.

              In Morocco there are a lot of Imperial Cities such as Marrakech, Fes, Meknes, Rabat and so on but I actually like two best.

              I am fond of Marrakech because it is exotic and very exciting. It has got a lot of interesting Historic Monuments like Koutoubia Mosque, Elbadie Castle. It also has many famous places to visit like El Mamounia Hotel but it is hot in the summer.

    Besides, I like Fes best as this city is more interesting. It is the oldest of them all. Like Marrakech, it has a lot of Historic Monuments but it is full of unique places for example the leather manually colouring site as well as it is on the World heritage list.

              In my opinion, Marrakech and Fes are the best Moroccan royal cities of all.

              This one is bind to the layout and scheme of a two-paragraph essay writing stating the thesis statement but it is hastily done. Such topics need research for data, that's why another restraint breaks into the rule. In addition to the basics of the writing skill namely accuracy, coherence and cohesion; the student should care about the information afforded in the writing. Both Fes and Marrakesh (especially Djamaa L'fna) are on the World Heritage list, not just Fes. All in all this is our primary concern here. What we intend to reach above all is an illegible piece of writing which improves with time.


              These samples are chosen at random in their originality. CLICK TO ENLARGE:

  • "If you have got melted chocolate all over your hands, you are eating it too slowly".


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