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Make Them Write Right

By: Mubarak Abdessalami

                Most of us, educators, believe that there is no proper way to teach writing. Therefore many elaborate methods have been adopted to alleviate the toughness of writing. It is true that despite all endeavours, writing is still the most frightening task for both teachers and students, but this doesnít mean we neednít seek more other means to ameliorate our techniques and approaches. EFL teachers are still trying innovative approaches to overcome this apprehension so as to tame writing for the learners to get well with. Boosting motivation could be the pivot around which all the approaches must revolve. What is absolutely important, thus, is how to motivate the students to like writing because for a student, to write is the most challenging task of all. The majority of learners generally hate writing because it requires a lot of hard work and agility besides a lot of reading, practice, drafts and much more. Teachers don't like to teach writing either. It is generally because of its need for permanent pursue and follow to evaluate throughout the phases the writing process goes through. Yet, teachers are not the only protagonists in this battle to win the challenge of getting the students to like and start on writing willingly. Parents' role is not to be taken too lightly. They can do a lot about this tough mission especially if they are literate and are involved themselves. The family is the corner stone in the whole issue. If they keep encouraging their children to continuously write, writing as a school assignment will gradually become an ordinary chore.

               In a purely classroom context, now, the "best" way to incite the students to write is either by making the tasks very easy or by making them look huge and colossal. I have tried both. Yet the easiest method worked for a while only but step by step students and I lost control. Writing is complicated due to many factors related to it as a creative work like,

In addition to these style types, there are other factors related to writing as a product like

               This multiplicity of components makes writing tough as each of the above types of writing requires a number of other tools like, conjunctions for instance:

               Although the students enjoy studying grammar, they cannot practise it normally in their production. The syntactic structure of their sentences is generally distorted. They often misuse adverbial and relative clauses for instance. In addition to this, tense use constitutes another difficulty. How to stick to the appropriate tense like the past tense in narrative, or the eternal present in argumentative essays.

               Vocabulary on the other hand is an enormous discouraging component of writing. The learnersí repertoire is mostly poor. They should know what diction for which genre. Vocabulary is usually scarce when it comes to writing even in the mother tongue let alone when writing in a foreign language like English. They cannot stop thinking in their mother tongues while writing in the foreign language. Looking for equivalents is actually an ordeal. Most learners of English rely too much on the inner translation while speaking or writing. Synonyms and antonyms which could enrich their writing lexis are almost inexistent. They are not used to reading, unfortunately.

               Another nightmare for learners is spelling. They make a lot of spelling mistakes because they donít write so often. Worse than that is the fact that this generation of learners prefer to communicate using emoticons, acronyms, dingbats and smileys. Spelling accuracy regression among the students is apparent even in their own mother tongues.

               The toughest of all is how to keep coherent and respect cohesion. They sometimes completely err in their writings. No logical connections between the parts of their pieces of writing. They have a false concept of writing: they think that the longer the piece of writing is, the better it conveys ideas. That's why most of the students endeavour to be long in their writing on the expense of the unity. While the longer the writing is, the greater the risk to make mistakes and errors will be.

               Now what if the teachers ask the students to respect punctuation? The use of punctuation is the least worried about. The learners who can get through all the above mentioned obstacles, they will surely apply the appropriate punctuation automatically and without difficulty.

               The learners today cannot go beyond simple sentences. Their essays are void of adjectives, comparatives, simile, allegory or metaphor. Is their artistry contaminated as well?

               Arenít these quickly selected problems enough to make the learners emigrate to Antarctica just not to sit for a writing assignment?

               For my part, to encourage students to write is by making writing alluring for them. How can this be put into action? Well, first the learners should be supported in their writing ordeal by Ėat least- reading their writing carefully and praising the effort supplied to accomplish the task. Verbal reward is mainly one of the most important motivating factors which make learners write voluntarily surpassing their phobia a little. Generally the students think writing is not just a school assignment they should avoid but an extra load they have to get rid of as quickly as they can. Isnít there enough back-up on the part of teachers and parents? I guess, some more assistance and forbearance from teachers and parents will surely help the learners Ėmost of them- take risks. They need to exteriorise their feelings and give their impressions about different issues of life and about the world round them.

               Moreover, the students are not free in writing, they are always asked to write about a topic, a theme, or a subject they donít feel like writing about at all; or they have no idea about. I think if they are given the opportunity to write about something which connects to them and their emotions directly, they would write poems. What they need is a topic which meets their interests and their personal concerns or affairs; accuracy and mechanicals will be dealt with in remedial work. The first and foremost concern for now is to assist the students in conquering their phobia from writing and start composing.

               All things considered, I reckon that some students never do their writing assignments just because they hate doing it being complicated and too much demanding. It is not because they are not used to it only but because they were not taught how to deal with it the simplest way I should guess. Instead of bringing me the homework done, they bring me a poem or a short essay about very personal issues. This basically means that they donít hate writing as such but they hate writing about a topic they donít feel like writing about whatsoever. And what makes it worse is the fact that they were not introduced to writing from the beginning.

               I have previously published several articles on how to train the students to get friendly with writing from the early years. You can find one here. Now I will introduce you to two different ideas about tricking the students into writing willingly. One is for the beginners (Common Core) and it is about writing a   mini-book  ; whereas the other is for intermediate students (2ème Bac.) on how to manage a   writing workshop   about essay and report writing.


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