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5Teaching an ESL EFL Writing Course

5Teaching an ESL EFL Writing Course

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11/15/2012

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eaching an ESL/EFL Writing Course
Considerations for Teaching an ESL/EFL Writing Course
provides a general guide to shaping writingclasses for English language learners. Among the topics addressed are syllabus design, techniques to helpwriters get started, assignment design and teacher and per responses to writing. It shows how the choices thatteachers make are clues to their underlying philosophy of teaching.
A.
 
Building Background Knowledge
Steps in the model for teaching composition (The Traditional Paradigm by Hairston1982):1.
 
Instruct the students in principles of rhetoric and organization, presented as “rules” for 
writing;2.
 
Provide a text for classroom discussion, analysis, and interpretation preferably a work of literature;3.
 
Require a writing assignment (accompanied by an outline) based on the text; and4.
 
Read, comment on, and criticize student papers prior to beginning the next assignmentin this cycle.
B.
 
Syllabus Design
A syllabus should be designed to take into account curricular goals and theparticular students the teacher will face.Aspects of Course Planning:1.
 
How much writing students are expected to complete during the term, divided intoless formal work such as journals and more formal work such as assignments;2.
 
What the timelines and deadlines are for working on and completing papers;3.
 
H
ow many of the formal writing assignments will be done in class as “timed” pieces;
 4.
 
What aspects of the composing process will be presented;5.
 
What aspects of English grammar and syntax, if any, will be directly addressed inclass;6.
 
What will be seen to constitute “progress” in acquiring improved writing skills as the
term moves along;7.
 
How much reading (and possibly which specific readings) will be covered; and
 
8.
 
How the student’s grade or a decision
of credit/no credit will be determined.
C.
 
Techniques for Getting Started
1.
 
Brainstorming-
often a group exercise in which students are encouraged to sharetheir collective knowledge about a particular subject.
 2.
 
Listing-
a quiet and individual activity. The student is encouraged to produce aslengthy a list as possible of all the main ideas and subcategories that come to mind ashe or she thinks about the topic at hand.
 3.
 
Clustering-
this begins with a key word or central idea place in the center of a page(or on the blackboard) around which the student (or the teacher, using student-generated suggestions) quickly jots down all of the free-associations triggered by thesubject matter, using words or short phrases.
 4.
 
Freewriting-
also known as by various other terms such as “wet ink” writing, “quick writing,” and “speed writing”. The main idea of this technique is for students to write
for a specified period of time without taking their pen form the page (usually aboutthree minutes for a first attempt and then typically for about five to eight minutes).
 
D.
 
Using Readings in Writing Class
 
Readings serve some very practical purposes in the writing class, particularly forELLs who have less fluency in the language.
 
Reading provides models of what English language texts look like, and even if not used for the purpose of imitation, they provide input that helps studentsdevelop awareness of English language prose style.
 
Reading helps students develop and refine genre awareness, an importantcriterion for being able to produce a wide range of test types.
 
Readings is used as a basis to practice such skills as summarizing, paraphrasing,interpreting, and synthesizing concepts.
E.
 
Writing Assignments
All assignments and the topics they contain must be carefully designed,sequenced, and structured so that the teacher know exactly what the learning goal of each paper is and the student gains something by working on any given assignments.Guidelines for the preparation of successful writing assignments:
 
1.
 
A writing assignment should be presented with its
 context
clearly
 
delineated
(described) such that the student understands the reasons for the assignment.2.
 
The
 
 content
 
of the task/topic should be
accessible
to the writers and allow formultiple approaches.3.
 
The
language
 
of the prompt or task and the instructions it is embedded in shouldbe
un-ambiguous and comprehensible
.4.
 
The
 task
 
should be
focused
enough to allow for completion in the time or lengthconstraints given and should further students knowledge of classroom content andskills.5.
 
The
 rhetorical specifications (cues)
should provide a clear direction
of likelyshape and format of the finished assignment, including appropriate references toan anticipated audience.6.
 
The
evaluation criteria
should
be identified
so that students will know inadvance how their output will be judged.
F.
 
Responding
It is a complex process which also requires the teacher to make a number of critical conditions.
G.
 
Goal-Setting
The teacher should focus on implementing a variety of response types and ontraining students to maximize the insights of prior feedback on future writingoccasions. Without training, it is impossible that students will either ignorefeedback or fail to use it constructively.H.
 
Shaping Feedback
Students should be taught to process an
d work with a teacher’s
comments,
whatever that teacher’s commenting style is.
 
I.
 
Forms of Feedback
Teachers should bear in mind that feedback can be oral as well as written.
1.
 
Oral Teacher Feedback-
conferences of about 15 minutes seem to work best andcan provide the teacher an opportunity to directly question the student about intendedmessages which are often difficult to decipher by simply reading a working draft.2.
 
Peer Response -
simply putting students together in groups of four or five, each withrough draft in hand, and then having each student in turn read his or her paper aloud,followed by having the other members of the group react to the strengths andweaknesses of the paper to indicate where their needs as readers have not been and

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