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ICELT DISTANCE UNIT

TEACHING AND RESPONDING TO
WRITING

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ICELT distance unit: teaching and responding to writing

Teaching Writing and Responding to Written work

Aims
In this module, we will explore the issues involved in teaching writing and will look at how to
teach writing at various levels. In addition, we examine how to mark written work.

Aims
By the end of this unit you should

• Have developed awareness of what is involved in the skill of writing.

• Have a better understanding of the purpose and value of writing in the English
language classroom

• Be able to prepare effective and meaningful writing activities at the appropriate level
for your learners

• have developed clearer understanding of how to give effective and appropriate
feedback to your learners about their written work.

Coursework in this unit:
Language Task 3: Focus on the Learners’ Written language (page 46)

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ICELT distance unit: teaching and responding to writing

Part 1: Developing writing skills in the EL classroom (teaching writing)

Reflection
It is very important to consider your own feelings about writing in English. This will effect how
you teach writing in the English language classroom.

1 Do you believe writing is a skill in its own right, which can be taught in the
classroom through a range of tasks and activities or is it just a way of
practising language structures?

2 Why do your students write in their English classes? Make a list of all the
reasons why you think that writing is important in English lessons.

3 Do your students have to pass examinations in English? What types of
writing are required by these examinations?

4 What type of 'texts' do students write in their English classes? Make a list
of typical writing tasks. How much time do they spend on:
a) writing sentences?
b) writing whole 'texts' e.g. narratives and descriptions etc

5 Do you think that writing in English is a language problem or writing problem?

6 Do you work with your students when they are writing, encouraging them to
revise and edit their work as they go along?

7 Do your students ever collaborate on writing tasks?

8 Do your students ever mark their own or each other's work?

9 Does writing take place in separate 'writing' lessons or is it integrated with
other work?

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The purpose of writing and teaching writing

What is writing?

Task 1
What is the purpose of writing?
Think about how you use writing in your everyday life in your first language.

Commentary
The purpose of most writing is to communicate with one or more readers (a friend, a relative,
a colleague, an institution, a teacher etc.) Of course, we sometimes write for ourselves but
even then, we read this material at a later date.

As the main purpose is to communicate, the writer needs to send a clear message. This
will depend on:

• Knowledge of skills and strategies necessary to produce an effective piece of
writing, i.e. how to start, how to take notes, how to plan

• Awareness of how to use language according to situation.

• Knowledge of how to sequence and organise written language

• Ability to use grammar correctly to convey precise meaning

• Awareness of the importance of presentation

Task 2
a) Think about the last 48 hours. Make a list of the things you wrote in your own
language?

b) Look at the list and answer the following questions:
* What was the aim? (i.e. to remind, to apologise, to inform)

* What was the audience? (the person who reads the text)

* What was the genre, or text type? (i.e, shopping list, a telephone message)

c) What implications does this list have for the English language classroom?

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Commentary 2

Nowadays we do very little writing in our everyday life. Most of it is short, for example, taking
telephone messages, writing brief notes to friends or colleagues, writing emails etc. But in all
cases it is important to know the aim (a purpose), the audience and the text type. This
should be reflected as far as possible in the classroom.

However you may ask, as there is not such a great real-life need for formal written work, 'why
do we need to teach writing?' This leads us to our next point.

What is the purpose of teaching writing?

Task 3
Why do your students write in their English classes? Make a list of all the reasons why
you think that writing is important in English lessons.

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Some teachers in South America were asked 'What is the purpose of asking students to
write? Here is what they said.

Which views are similar to yours?

Writing is a useful follow-up. It
helps to consolidate what has I see writing as an end
in itself. Just as my
been learned.
learners want to be able
Guillermo, Venezuela to speak English, so they
Isabel, Perú need to write too.

Luz Stella, México
The main purpose of
writing is accurate use of I think one of the most
language - especially important reasons for
grammatical structures. having students write is
to be able to assess
their formal knowledge

Maria, Ecuador
Miguel, Colombia
I use writing both to
Writing is just another form of
practise language and
communication. My learners
to encourage my
expect to be given writing practice
learners to be creative. to improve their all-round English.
That's why I do it.

Eduardo, Chile
Juan José, Colombia
I make my students
write things down. Writing is more reflective
They need it as a that speaking. I think it
reference. gives learners more time and
Blanca, Perú they can be more accurate in
Paola, Bolivia what they write. I think they
expect to do quite a lot of
The purpose of writing is writing.
simply to practise writing.

If you really think you know English,
then you really need to be able to
Richard, Colombia write fluently in English. I believe you
can only get that through constant
practice. My aim is to increase their
confidence when writing and to
improve their written fluency.

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Commentary 3
There are a number of very good reasons why it is useful to include work on writing in
English language classroom:

To consolidate and reinforce language work done in class: - most students find it useful
to see language written down and to practice a new structure at sentence level after they
have studied it. Writing is often used to help students remember new items of language.

To develop writing skills - like reading, speaking and listening, writing is a basic language
skill. Students need to know some of writing's special conventions (punctuation, paragraph
construction etc) just as they need to know how to pronounce spoken English appropriately.

To prepare them for exams - Many students have specific needs which require them to
develop their writing skills, for example examination preparation, expectation in schools of
essay writing, project writing, poems etc.

To assess - writing allows students to see how they are progressing and to get feedback
from the teacher. As teachers we often use writing as a way to monitor and diagnose
problems.

To develop accuracy - using writing to develop ability in producing grammatically correct
sentences as well as following writing conventions of different text types (for example writing
a formal letter compared to a postcard to a close friend), correct spelling, punctuation etc.

To encourage the development of fluency - developing the students' ability to
communicate ideas and experiences creatively and confidently in a written form.

For classroom management and to change the pace of the lesson - writing can give the
teacher a break. It can quieten down a noisy class. Although with collaborative writing it may
even liven up the class.

To encourage students to work together and share their ideas and experiences - writing
requires a different type of mental process - unlike speaking there is more time to think,
reflect, prepare, make mistakes, find alternative and better ways of expression an idea or
opinion. Writing in class allows students to work together in the process of writing, through a
process of generating and sharing ideas, making decisions on what to include in the writing,
how to express ideas and revising what has been written.

For enjoyment – there are many students who, with the proper support and guidance, can
grow to enjoy the process of writing.

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Writing in the English language classroom

Attitudes to writing

Task 1

♦ How do you feel about teaching writing?

♦ How do your students feel about writing?

Commentary
Writing often receives less attention by teachers because it is at the bottom of the list of
teachers' priorities: classroom time is limited and writing is time-consuming. In addition, it is
one of the most difficult things to tackle on the syllabus and students often do not respond in
the way that teachers want them to. Some feel that writing 'takes care of itself', a less
important issue that is best taken care of in the form of an occasional homework task.

The situation is not helped by the negative feeling students often have about writing. Do your
recognise these:
Why do we have
Finished! to do writing, it's
(When they have only written 2 lines.) so boring!

I don't know
Oh no not what to write
writing…can't we about….
just talk?

Many see it as hard work, boring, unrewarding and, perhaps because writing is often
associated with homework and/or exams, not a lot of fun. Motivation can be a huge problem
for the teacher.

This is not helped by teacher over-reliance on writing in the classroom for ‘speaking’ practice
activities, which is generally not appropriate practise, and also connects writing to boring
activities.

Writing can be one of the most enjoyable and satisfying activities for teachers and students to
do together. But how can we encourage our learners to write and enjoy writing?

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First we need to consider a number of factors:

– to motivate our students to write we need to provide a reason, especially a fun
reason or a personally important reason. If I asked you to write about your holidays, the
probability is that you might give me a quick summary. If I asked you more specific
questions and gave you a reason for writing (for a wall display, for a short book
recommending different holiday activities), you would probably produce a much more
interesting piece of work. Having a clear sense of 'audience' (who is going to read this) is
also motivating. This doesn't have to be the teacher, it could be the rest of the class for
instance.

– students respond better if they are given guidance. Learners need more guidance
than just a title to write successfully. They may need help in how to approach their
writing, in generating ideas, how to make notes, how to organise ideas etc.

– allow your students to work together on writing. As a group they can generate lots of
ideas, select the content and organise their ideas. The teacher can move around from
group to group monitoring the work and helping with the process of writing. Encourage
your learners to ask you for advice. By giving them the right to choose when they want
your help, you are helping to develop their sense of responsibility in their own learning.

– The key to motivation is the choice and variety of activities. Give learners plenty of
opportunities to try out different kinds of writing (letters, reports, articles, posters, and
public notices for example) as well as 'the composition'. Remember that form can be
interesting as well as content. Similarly give them activities that you know they will find
fund

– As a teacher, be positive about writing, be supportive and flexible, and allow them
to be creative with their ideas.

Let's look at the types of writing activities done in the classroom.

2 Types of writing activities

Task 2
1 What types of writing do you ask your students to do?
2 How often to you do writing activities:
In the classroom?
As homework?

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Commentary 1
Q1 Most writing in the classroom falls on a continuum from copying to free writing:

Focus A - types of writing B - definitions and example activities

Controll Copying Students copy from the board or from books.
ed They generally copy grammatical structures,
(accuracy grammatical rules and items of vocabulary.
focus)
This provides the students with a written
record of the language presented and
practised in class.
Written Exercises These exercises practise grammatical
structures. For example, writing sentences
from prompts following a particular structural
pattern, answering questions using a
particular structural pattern, completing
sentences, matching halves of sentences and
writing out a complete sentences, gap-filling
using the correct tense or word.
Freer Guided writing Students are involved in a process of writing
(fluency and the teacher gives help during this process
focus) (thinking through ideas, ordering them, co-
operatively preparing notes, writing draft
copies, editing and writing final versions)
Free writing Students come up with a topic and title for a
composition themselves and do not receive
any help from the teacher.

Writing should be practised in the classroom everyday. Even very short pieces of writing, with
drawings to illustrate points should be encouraged and discussed. If your learners are only
writing at home, this means that they are always writing without support. Of course writing
tasks as homework are often essential because of pressures of time and curriculum, but
make sure you prepare for them in class. (See more discussion on guided writing)

What kinds of writing should students do?

Of course it will depend on the age, interests and level of the students but there are some
very important factors to consider:

Students need time in the classroom for writing. It is the teacher's task to select or design
activities which support them through the process of producing a piece of writing (guided
writing).

Students need to be given a context for writing. In order to know exactly what to write
they need to know why they are writing (THE AIM), who the reader is (THE AUDIENCE -
this needs to vary and should not just be the teacher). They also need to be aware of the

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type of text (THE GENRE), for example a formal letter compared to an e-mail message
to a close friend (different type of language and different layouts).

It is important to think about what you (as the teacher) are going to do with the learners
writing. For example, use the wall space in the classroom to display letters, ideas, jokes,
poems, stories, recipes etc that have been written by learners. This public display of work
is highly motivating and encourages learners to take pride in their finished product.
Furthermore, the written work can be extended to other members of the school. For
example your classes can write to other classes at the same level. Projects can be
displayed in a public space for all in the school. This motivates learners to concentrate on
presentation. The learners should be encouraged to decide for themselves which work
should be displayed and how- as a hand-written text, retyped text, in book form or poster
form and with what kind of illustrations. Try to keep a collection of old magazine pictures
for learners to use to brighten up their work, or download images from the Internet.

4 Analysing writing activities

Task 1
Look at the six example of writing activities taken mainly from coursebooks. Identify
the following characteristics for each writing activity:

a) aim
b) audience
c) genre
d) level (elementary, pre-intermediate, etc)

For some there may be some missing elements. Here’s an example:
Write a one-page magazine advertisement for a new style of trainers (sneakers) that your
company produces.

a) aim: not specified (implied aim is to sell a pair of trainers to a prospective customer)
b) audience: a potential customer
c) genre: a one page advertisement
d) level: pre-intermediate to advance (suitable for a range of levels)

Writing activity A

You are a famous singer. Make a poster for your concert.

Commentary
Aim: to give information about a concert/to persuade
Audience: music fans
Genre: poster
Level: beginners/elementary

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Writing activity B
A friend is coming to stay with you. Write a letter a suggest some things to do

Dear….
I'm really glad that you are coming to stay at my house for a few days. I'm sure you will like it
here. I've got lots of ideas for things to do. First of all why don't we …..[Explain why this is
interesting] Then we could….And how about……? Or perhaps you'd…….
Anyway, we can decide all this later. I'll be at the airport at 11.30 to meet you.

See you soon
[Your name]

Commentary
Aim: to make some suggestions
Audience: a friend coming to stay
Genre: a letter to a friend
Level: pre intermediate

Writing activity C

Design and write an information leaflet about your town/city for tourists.

Commentary
Aim: to give information
Audience: tourists
Genre: leaflet/brochure
Level: low-intermediate

Writing activity D
Work in groups of three to five. As a group, you are going to write a story of a dream by
completing the text below. Before you begin, each student choose 2 pictures from a set of
pictures (they can be any small pictures, but one idea is to use Reward Pre-Intermediate
Resource Pack (31) ) in an envelope. You must include these pictures in your dream.

I was sitting in front of the television late one evening, when I fell asleep and had a strange
dream.

In the dream I was… (Where were you? What were you doing?)
Suddenly (What happened?)
To my surprise (What happened next?
Unfortunately (What happened?)
Finally (What happened in the end?)

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Commentary
Aim: to describe a dream (imaginary)
Audience: classmates
Genre: a story of a dream
Level: pre - intermediate and above

Writing activity E

Write a recipe for an interesting dish. First list the ingredients you need. Then
describe how to make the dish.

This recipe is for shepherd’s pie. For this dish you need minced beef or lamb, onions,……

First you chop up the onions, and then fry them lightly in oil…

Exchange recipes and read them. Is there a recipe you would like to try?

Commentary
Aim: to give instructions
Audience: classmates
Genre: a recipe
Level: pre intermediate

Lesson Planning
What do writing lessons look like?

Writing is a productive skill like speaking. Like speaking, writing activities do not occur in
isolation. It is important to think what comes before it - pre-writing, and what comes after it -
post-writing.

Task 1
Describe what might happen during the pre-, while- and post- stages of a writing
activity. What does the teacher do? What are the learners doing?

Commentary:

The Pre-writing stage prepares the learners to write. The students could be asked to
brainstorm ideas on a particular topic and share experiences. They may be shown models of
a text and be asked to identify the conventions (language, form etc) of the particular text type.

While-writing stage. Learners produce their texts, from the ideas generated in the previous
stage or by following a model text previously presented and analysed. The teacher helps
and guides learners in their writing style, organisation, content and presentation and
encourages them to help each other.

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Post-writing - two things happen after writing:

Dealing with the product (displaying the poster, sending the letter, reading the poem to
classmates etc). This might lead to a role play or some other type of speaking activity, or
reading activity.
Responding to the writing (evaluating, rewriting, appraisal of the form and ideas by the
other learners or teacher). This will be looked at in detail in part 2.

The focus of a writing activity

Writing is a complicated skill and it is impossible to deal with all aspects of what makes good
writing at once. It is therefore important to have a particular TASK FOCUS for each writing
activity. Task focuses could be:

Imagination development and vocabulary expansion
Types of writing that need imagination and a great variety of vocabulary are the creative
types of writing such as:
• stories and fairy tales
• poems
• articles
• reviews
• personal communications

Form and organisation are also important, but a variety of vocabulary is crucial.

Register of language (formal and informal expressions)
Types of writing for which register is important include:
• typed letters
• business communications

As these often depend on a received communication, such as a letter from a business
partner, the need for vocabulary brainstorming will be less important.

The use of formulaic phrases
• beginning and endings of letters, (' Dear Sir/Madam', 'I look forward to hearing from
you', yours faithfully, bye for now)
• internet language, as formulaic phrases are especially popular in chat and e-mail
• formal invitations

Text organisation
• summary writing
• essays
• academic writing
• magazine articles
• lecture notes

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Presentation and layout
This is important for:
• letters
• applications and CVs (curriculum vitae)
• posters
• projects
• advertisements

You can also work with particular learners for whom presentation is a problem because of
handwriting.

Grammatical features of types of writing, joining sentences

It can be useful to have a grammar focus where there are useful patterns to look at, for
example:
• the use of the past simple and past perfect in stories
• present perfect and past simple in newspaper articles or letters of application

Any text that depends on contrast and comparison (essays, reports, even the text of an
advertisement) will benefit from work done on joining sentences logically- from 'and' vs. 'but'
for beginners to 'notwithstanding' vs. 'taking this into consideration' for advanced students!

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Task 2
Look at the following pre-writing activities (1-6) and decide:
What the task focus is?
What the product will be (the text)?
What you could do with the product (post writing task)?

Activity 1: Three words story
Put three words on the board: for example man, restaurant, ring.
Tell the students they are going to write a story containing a man, a restaurant and a ring.
On the board, draw a table:
Man Restaurant Ring

Ask the learners what the man looks like, what he is wearing, what he does etc. As they call
out ideas, put them on the board. Accept all of the ideas. Now do the same for 'restaurant'
and 'ring'

As the learners to put a story together using some of the ideas on the board.

Commentary
Task focus: This is a brainstorming activity for vocabulary expansion, especially adjectives.
Product: a story
Post writing task: could be a cartoon strip for a wall or a drama activity in groups acting out
the stories

Activity 2: Skeleton Thanks
Give the learners the following skeleton of a letter

Dear …………
Thank you for ……………………………………… It was wonderful.
I especially liked………………………………………… and
……………………………..

I hope……………………….. and I look forward to…………………….

Regards, Peter Smith

Discuss the tone of the letter and what might go into it. Students then complete the letter in
any way they wish (from experience or imagination)

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Commentary
Task Focus: Formulaic phrases (often idiomatic e.g. I look forward to hearing from you)
Product: relatively formal letter of thanks
Post writing task: the letters are displayed around the classroom and Ss vote on the most
imaginative gift and response; further writing - Ss have to email a friend and tell them about
their birthday/Christmas etc and say what gifts they received, why they liked them/didn't like
them; change the genre of writing..Thanking informally e.g. a letter to a close friend or an
email and analysis of the formal and informal genres.

Activity 3: Story gap-fill

This story outline can be put on the computer before a lesson or be as a paper copy. It could
also be done as a dictation (video clip)

Pedro was talking with his English teacher. She was getting more and more upset.
(Teacher to students: write the first few lines of the conversation)

When Pedro got home he went into the kitchen and said hello to his mother.
(Teacher: describe her and what she was doing)

Pedro's mother called the family to the table and they all sat down to eat. It didn't take
long for Pedro's mum and dad to start arguing.
(Teacher: write the first few lines of their argument)

Pedro left the table and went to his room, banging the door behind him….
(Teacher: what did he do next?)

Commentary:
Task focus: language expansion and development of imagination, 2 styles of writing,
description etc
Product: a story and 2 dialogues
Post-writing task: drama/role play (could be filmed or photographed used in picture story)

Activity 4 Chopped story
Cut up a text into 6 pieces, dividing at the end of paragraphs and label the pieces A-F in any
order. Divide the class into groups of 6. Give a set of six chopped pieces to each group.
Groups must decide on the order of the sections and make themselves into a line, with the
person at the front of the line holding the beginning of the text, and so on.

Task focus: awareness raising activity about text organisation and cohesion between
paragraphs.
Product: model text
Post activity: writing a similar text, writing a summary of the text

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Activity 5 Getting a job
Show students a job advertisement (from the Internet, from a newspaper) and the following
letter of application.

Bogotá November 5th

Dear Sir,
I hope you don't mind me asking, but have to got any jobs?
I saw your advert and I think I'd like to work for you.
I'm really nice and clever as I passed all my exams at school and I've lots of friends.
I've done lots of jobs and I'll tell you about them when I come and see you in your office.
Can I come and see you on Tuesday? I'm busy on Wednesday coz I'm going out with some friends.

Bye for now

Susan

Tel: 624 3551

Learners discuss what is good and bad about the letter and whether the person would get an
interview. In groups, they plan and write a letter of application for the same or a similar job.

Commentary
Task focus: register
Products: Letters of application
Post writing: competition for the best letter, students could imagine they are employers
looking at letters and deciding who to interview, possibly writing a letter or reply or phoning to
make an appointment for an interview, they could role-play an interview; could also be used
as a text comparison 'look at the letter, which one is more effective?'; follow up by getting
students to write two letters on a similar theme but to very different people. For example,
they could be teenagers writing to a head teacher explaining why they were absent from
school and an e-mail to a friend saying what really happened.

Activity 6 - Write so it is true for you
Before class prepare a short text about yourself on any topic that you feel your students
would be interested in. For example:

Cats are my favourite animals
They are very intelligent and independent.
I especially like black cats.
When I am with cats I like talking to them and stroking them. I also like looking
after them.

Read out one line at a time and ask learners to change the sentences so that they are true
for them:

For example:
Teacher: Cats are my favourite animals.
Student: Dogs are my favourite animals.

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After reading out a line give the learners some time to write down their version. They will
need time to think about the topic and make a decision as to what they should write down.

Make sure that the level of language is about the level of your learners and that the topic is
one that your students can identify with.

An alternative version of this (and for a higher level) could be used to encourage students to
express their own opinions. It could be used as an activity that leads into a discussion and a
controversial reading. As an example the teacher reads this sentence:

Human beings do not treat animals well.

And tells the students to re-write the sentence to reflect their own feelings. Students may
write:

Human beings must treat animals better because they are living creature too.
I think human beings treat animals very well.
We should treat animals better and all become vegetarians.

Commentary
Task focus: imagination development and vocabulary expansion
Products: sentences expressing feeling about a given topic/issue
Post writing: Ss compare their answers in pairs/groups, perhaps nominating the best one to
read to the class. This could then lead into a reading or listening text about pets (low levels)
vegetarianism (higher levels) for example, or a discussion activity.

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A lesson plan
In this section you will see how writing activity F from Section 3 is incorporated into a
lesson.

Task 1
Read the plan and the attached materials carefully. Can you identify the three main
stages: pre-, while-, and post-, that we talked about at the beginning of this section?

Stage & Procedure Stage Aim
Timing
(approx)
1 Set the Students are given a number of questions Lead in to topic
Context about dreams for discussion (see OHT 1) Create interest
Give context for writing:
10 minutes The teacher introduces the activity: 'Today What (genre) / Who
you are going to write a story about a (audience) / Why (aim)
dream for the other students to read'.

2 Provide The teacher writes: Provide model text for Ss
model text Who is Keri’s favourite TV star? which is to be used in the
and reading writing activity that follows
task The teacher gives out a text (see HO1 - Set a 'gist task' to give
model text for writing activity. This model students a purpose for
5 minutes provides an example of the type of writing reading and to gain an
and language the students will be expected overall understanding of the
to produce in the writing stage) and gives text.
the students 45 seconds to find the answer
to the question (Pedro el Escamoso).

3 Language Teacher asks students to underline all the Focus on narrative markers
analysis phrases in text which help to organise
events in the story e.g. I was sitting in
5 minutes front…, in the dream…, suddenly etc

They then compare their texts with OHT 2 -
the story skeleton (outline)

4 Setting up The students are divided into groups (3-5). Stimulate Sts to write
Writing task Each group is given an envelope Provide a purpose for
containing a set of pictures (for example, writing
from Reward Pre-Intermediate resource
5 minutes pack 31b).

Each student takes two pictures randomly
from the envelope. All of the selected
pictures are spread out in front of the
students.

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The teachers explain that they are going to
include all of these pictures in a story of a
dream, using the story skeleton (OHT 2) as
an outline of their texts.

5 In their groups the students brainstorm Practice of important 1st
Brainstormi ideas for the story and make notes, using stage of successful writing
ng and note the skeleton story to help them plan the - generating ideas
making content of each part (paragraph) of the
story.
7 minutes

6 Writing 1st In groups, the students write a first draft of Encourage students to
draft their story. The teacher encourages them express their ideas freely.
to pay attention to the content (their ideas)
10 minutes rather than the form (grammatical
accuracy, spelling, punctuation etc).
Teacher reminds students that this is only
the FIRST draft.

7 Editing The groups pass their first drafts to another Practise critical reading of
group. Each group reads a text/story and texts
10 minutes writes some questions about the content
eg what happens here?, what happens
next?, what colour is the woman's dress
etc?. To encourage the writers to expand
their ideas in their next draft. Practise self correction
techniques
The texts are returned to their 'writers'.
With these comments and the questions
from HO2, the groups check their work and
make improvements.

8 Writing final In groups, the students write out a final Practise polishing skills
draft draft of their stories. The teacher monitors
the groups and gives help where needed.
15 minutes The students are encouraged to pay
attention to content and form in this draft. Provide an audience
Teacher explains to students that their final
drafts will be read by their classmates.

9 Reading When the final drafts are complete, the Practise reading for specific
and stories are put up around the classroom. information (scanning) and
feedback The students are encouraged to read the for general understanding
texts, identifying which pictures appear in encourage overall response
10 minutes the stories and then voting on the best/ to stories
most imaginative story.

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Commentary:

Pre-writing: stages 1-4. These stages prepare the students to write.
While-writing: stages 5-8. Students produce their texts in these stages from notes - to final
draft.
Post-writing: stage 9. The product (the story) is displayed for the other groups to read and
respond to.

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OHT # 1
Discuss these questions in small groups

Do you dream every night?

Do you remember your dreams?

Do you dream in colour?

Do you have recurring dreams?

Do dreams have any significance?

Do dreams ever come true?

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A Dream

I was sitting in front of the television late one evening when I fell asleep and had
a strange dream.

In the dream I was walking along the street outside my home. I was carrying a
bag and I seemed to be in a hurry to get home in order to watch my favourite
programme, ‘Pedro el Escamoso’.

Suddenly, just before I reached the door of my apartment block, I saw Pedro.
He was walking towards me and smiling at me. He had a dog with him that was
sniffing around in the flowerbeds. Then, to my surprise, he said my name and
spoke to me. “Keri, hello. Dona Paula told me you are a very good teacher and
I was wondering if you…”

Unfortunately, just at that moment, a car pulled up and an angry-looking woman
shouted out the window. “Hurry up, Pedro. We’re late.”

He checked his watch and replied, “Oh! Sorry. I didn’t realise it was that time.”

Finally, he gave me the dog and ran to the car and jumped in. I was left holding
the dog’s lead as the car roared down the road.

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OHT # 2

Story Skeleton

I was sitting in front of the television late one
evening when I fell asleep and had a strange dream.

In the dream ….

Suddenly, ….

Unfortunately, …

Finally…
OHT # 2

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HO2

CHECK YOUR WRITING 1

When you have got your ideas down on paper you may want to move parts of your work
around or change the way it is written. You may need to cut words out or put extra ones in to
make your writing more interesting.
These questions will help you check for important things in your work:

Have you done what you were asked to do?

Does your writing say what you want it to?

Is it easy to read?

Is it in the right style?

Does the first sentence make people want to carry on reading?

Is the ending clear and interesting?

Are you sure about the spellings?

Have you used full stops, commas, question marks, apostrophes and
speech marks correctly?

Does your writing need any more words to help describe things
clearly?

Have you left anything important out?

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This lesson is an example of how we can guide our students through the writing process by
providing support in all the stages of writing.

Task 2
a) Look at the lesson plan again and identify the following sections.
Construct a skeleton (outline) of the text
Discuss the topic of the text and make notes
Write a draft
Provide a model text and a set a gist reading task to help with
general understanding of the model
Set a more detailed task / analyse language and structure of
model text
Edit and write a final draft
Set a context

b) Can you put the sections in the correct sequence?

Commentary:
Construct a skeleton (outline) of the text - 3b
Discuss the topic of the text and make notes - 5
Write a draft - 6
Provide a model text and set a reading task to help with general understanding of the
model- 2
Set a more detailed task / analyse language and structure of model text - 3a
Edit and write a final draft - 7&8
Set a context - 1

See following page for order of guided writing procedure

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Guided writing procedure is:

1) Set a context

2) Provide a model text and set a reading task to help with general understanding of the
model

3) Set a more detailed task / analyse language and structure of model text

4) Construct a skeleton (outline) of the text

5) Discuss the topic of the text and make notes

6) Write a draft

7) Edit and write a final draft

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Task 4
Can you think of some reasons why guided writing is a useful activity in class?

Commentary:
Students think about the topic before they write.
Sts brainstorm ideas and approaches.
Sts discuss the topic with other sts, getting new ideas and clarifying their own
thoughts.
Sts see models of similar types of writing.
The class works on a similar piece of writing together.
Sts do preliminary writing exercises - making notes, answering questions, ordering
ideas, linking sentences, etc.
Sts do language exercises with language relevant to the text they’ll write.
Sts prepare a draft for discussion and editing.
Sts do the writing task with an audience in mind.

Summary
In part 1 we have provided a number of activities which help to develop both the learners'
writing ability and the learners' confidence in writing. For a good selection of entertaining
writing activities, look in 'Writing Games', a photocopiable resource book by Charles Hadfield
and Jill Hadfield, (Nelson 1990).

A final word……
Remember, writing that is given as homework should always be thoroughly prepared
for in class time. If the learner is sent home with a title and no idea of how to start or
develop the story, the product is a very weak piece of writing, ( a true 'jellyfish' in fact,) with
repetitive phrases and no development. The learner is not at fault in this case. It is the
teacher who is at fault if her/his learners return to the class demotivated and with a badly
written piece of work. Support given earlier will actually save you a great deal of time later as
learners will develop their writing skills much more efficiently.

Furthermore, time spent on writing is never wasted. All of your learners will need to write
in English in the future at some stage and the development of their writing ability is important,
even when the specific types of writing they might need are unclear.

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Responding to students' written work

Reflection
Task 1
How you would respond to the following comment?

‘When correcting written work I correct all the errors. That is
what the students want’
Commentary
Yes, most students will, if asked, say that that is what they expect from the teacher. However
if a student gives you a piece of original and creative writing, it is not sufficient to react to it
solely as piece of language containing numerous mistakes of form or appropriacy. The result
of such correction leads to students being given back a piece of writing covered with red ink.
This can be highly demotivating and doesn’t encourage students to think about the language
they have used. It is probably better to adopt one or more of the following procedures:

• Don’t correct every mistake. Where you think the mistake is simply a ‘slip’ underline it or
put a cross next to the line where the mistake occurs. Some mistakes if they don’t
interfere with communication need not be corrected at all leaving the teacher free to
concentrate on those mistakes, which do.

• Use a correction code. This is something that we will be looking at in a later section of
this unit, but it basically means that you have a system of symbols, which the students
know and which doesn’t change, and that instead of correcting the error you put a symbol
or abbreviation next to the mistake. E.g. w.o for a word order mistake. This way the
student knows what sort of mistake he has made but he has to think about exactly what
the mistake was and how to correct it.

• Respond positively. In most pieces of writing that students give you there will be as
much, if not more, that is correct and well expressed as there is incorrect. It is important
that you indicate to students where they have done well by ticks or comments.

• Respond to communication with communication. If a student has written a story react
to the story as a story not just as a piece of language to be corrected. E.g. What a
frightening situation! You must have been so relieved when the police came

• First and second drafts. When a student writes a composition it can be a good idea to
indicate what mistakes have been made and how the composition can be improved and
then let them write a second draft and only then give them a final grade or assessment

• Peer correction. A very good technique for getting students to think about their work is to
give out first drafts of a piece of writing, with mistakes underlined or not as the teacher
prefers. Students then work to correct each other’s writing.

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Reflection 2
What to you generally mark in learners’ written work?

What do you understand by the following terms?

• Task achievement
• Clarity and cohesion
• Grammatical range
• Grammatical accuracy
• Lexical range
• Lexical accuracy
• Effect on the target reader
• Layout and organisation
• Punctuation and spelling

Why are each of these areas important to effective writing?
How important is it to train learners to self-correct and edit their work?

Responding to written language
Most correction of written work tends to focus on the language used. Learners tend to expect
that teachers will correct every single mistake in a piece of written work thus returning the
corrected piece of writing covered with red ink. Most teachers also tend to think that it is their
job to do this. However this is unsatisfactory for various reasons :

• It is very time consuming for the teacher, especially if he has a large class
• It can be very discouraging for the student
• Most students do not bother to sift through all these corrections
• This type of correction does not encourage students to think about what type of mistakes
they are making.
• The content and organisation of a piece of writing are , arguably, far more important than
the language forms used

Obviously in responding to written work some attention does have to be paid to language but
there are alternative ways to do this, which we will be looking at in the next section.

Responding to the content of a piece of writing.

This is often neglected by teachers who tend to confine themselves to writing Good etc at
the end of a piece of writing. But if a learner has taken the trouble to communicate with you in
the form of a story or letter then it can be very supportive to the learner to convey your
reaction to the creative content of a piece of writing.as a reader rather than as teacher. A
comment like "A very original and imaginative story. I enjoyed it . Thank you."

Can help boost the confidence of learner who has written a story full of mistakes of form. It is
important to remember that most pieces of writing however full of mistakes will contain much
that is correct or well expressed and this should be acknowledged as well as concentrating
on the mistakes. The aim of getting students to produce pieces of writing is not to get them to

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produce safe, formulaic, mistake free composition but is part of a developing process
whereby all writing leads to an increased ability to express what they mean

3 Responding to the organisation of a piece of writing.
In longer compositions and essay learners, and teachers, often neglect the importance of
organising their work into paragraphs and using linkers appropriately. In responding to this
type of work the teachers priority should perhaps be to indicate where paragraphing is non-
existent or badly organised and to concentrate on the correct use of linkers. Underlining or
crosses in the margin could indicate other mistakes. Many teachers prefer not to give a grade
to the first draft of an extended piece of writing but to indicate where it might be improved and
then get to the students to write a second draft incorporating these suggestions.
This may seem time consuming or demanding but is a good reflection of what happens in
real life where most pieces of writing go through two or more drafts before they are ready for
publication or to be sent
(See Responding Ron White and Valerie Arndt ELT Forum)

As we said before the traditional way of correcting written language is by correcting all the
mistakes using a red pen. Write down any alternative methods of correction you think of.
When you have finished compare your ideas with a colleagues and then read the notes
below.

There are various alternative correction procedures:

1 Not using a red pen
I don’t use a red pen because it looks threatening and unpleasant and therefore
demotivating. I use green pen when correcting student exercises because the mistakes then
stand out. When correcting the first draft of longer compositions I tend to use pencil to convey
that I am suggesting to students and not telling them

2 Correct mistakes selectively
This where the teacher doesn’t attempt to correct all the mistakes in piece of writing but
concentrates on areas that have recently been covered in class or areas where all the
students are having difficulty such as tenses or articles. This approach probably needs to be
backed by some form of remedial teaching if it is to be fully effective.

3 Indicate mistakes so that the students can correct them
This can be done in various different ways. If the teacher is interested in promoting maximum
learner autonomy he can follow a series of stages like the ones below.

Stage 1 Use a correction code.
This usually consists of underlining the mistake and using some kind of symbol to focus the
attention of students on what kind of mistake they have made .

For a possible correction code see the table on the next page
It is important that correction codes are consistent and that students know very well what the
symbols mean

Stage 2
Underline the mistake but do not diagnose it

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Stage 3
Diagnose the mistake by writing the symbol in the margin but do not show where it is in the
line
Stage 4
Put a cross in the margin for each mistake
Stage 5
Put a cross against each line with a mistake but do not indicate how many mistakes there
are.
4 Peer correction
At any one of the above stages you can ask students, preferably in groups to correct each
others work . They usually enjoy doing this and it’s very useful in training them to spot the
mistakes in their own work

Task 2
Read the following statements and decide how far you agree or disagree with each one.
A. Fully agree
B. Mostly agree
C. Mostly disagree
D. Fully disagree

Responding to writing means…

1. praising learners’ writing for its strengths A B C D

2. using a red pen A B C D

3. correcting every single error A B C D

4. providing correct answers for learners A B C D

5. learners rewriting answers after teachers have corrected them A B C D

6. giving specific feedback to learners (e.g. remarks about past tenses) A B C D

7. correcting some errors A B C D

8. getting learners to co-operate (e.g. give feedback to each other) A B C D

9. giving marks for grammatical accuracy A B C D

10. responding to what learners writes (the content) A B C D

11. reacting to how learners express something (the form ) A B C D

12. sometimes using a green, pink or purple pen A B C D

13. encouraging learners to experiment with the language (e.g. vocab) A B C D

14. collecting important errors for analysis by the whole class A B C D

15. insisting on correct grammar A B C D

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16. helping learners self-correct A B C D

17. using correction symbols to indicate errors (e.g. SP=spelling) A B C D

18. encouraging learners to write enthusiastically A B C D

19. asking learners to evaluate their own writing A B C D

20. giving a general mark for content and form A B C D

(taken from ‘Tasks for Teacher Education. Tanner and Green .p84)

Imagine you are a learner: what is the ideal teacher response to your writing?

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Commentary to task 2
1 It is important to give positive feedback to your students for the good parts of their writing, such
as the creative ideas, organisation etc. Praise is very motivating

2 & 12 Red pen has negative associations for many people. It may be discouraging and
demotivating to get back a piece of work covered with red pen. Why not try a green pen or a
blue one?

3 This can be very demotivating.

4 This can be helpful - written in the margin. However if there are too many corrections and too
much information it can be discouraging.

5 It is very useful practice to get your students to look at their errors (this is discussed in the next
section).

6 This is very useful, particularly if it a mistake that the student continues to make.

7 Focussing on one type of error (e.g. all verb tense mistakes, spelling mistakes, etc) is an
effective way of responding to students writing. It is important that you tell them that you will be
focussing on a particular area before they write.

8,16 & 19 This encourages learners to take responsibility of their learning. This collaborative type of
correcting is an extremely valuable part of the learning process.

9 It depends on your teaching aim and task focus of the writing activity.

10,11,13 & 18 It is important to respond to the content and how they have expressed themselves not
just to the language they have used. This is an area they can be given a lot of praise for,
particularly if they have been really creative with their ideas. Encourage them to take risks and
experiment with the language. Show your students that writing can be fun!

17 This allows students to self-correct (see the next section).

20 Are you evaluating their language or developing their writing skill? Are you expected to give a
mark by your students or your school? Have you ever just given a comment?

Things to think about when responding to students’ writing:

a. Which errors will you indicate (all, only those which interfere with understanding
etc)?

b. How will you indicate errors (underlining, circling etc)?

c. Will you use symbols to give positive feedback – if so, which ones?

d. Where will you put your chosen symbols?

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Remember:
Just as we cannot teach all writing skills in one lesson, we cannot correct all written mistakes
in one piece of work. An idea would be to concentrate on a specific type of error e.g. in
vocabulary, a certain grammar tense - tell your students 'this week I'll be looking at the type
of vocabulary you use…' - change the area of correction…restrictive marking

Giving positive feedback is particularly important and can be incorporated into your scheme
of responding to student's written work.

Task 2 Imagine you are the teacher of this student, Henry.

1. Read this profile of a student, Henry, and his writing task.

Profile of learner: Henry

• 13-year-old boy
• 3rd year of English study
• class has five 50-minute lessons a week
• class recently received past tense and present perfect tense
• Henry has not yet studied the passive voice

Henry’s writing task

Write your own conclusion to the story we read in class

2 Read Henry’s work. (extract from ‘Tasks for Teacher Education Tanner & Green - teacher's
book p74). DO NOT write anything yet.

Henry’s story

Woman found after two month

Yesterday old woman was found in her house probably she was
dead for two months. The neighbours thought she was on a
holyday. The woman probably was murdered with a book she was
hit in the back of her face. The murderer is not yet been found.
But the police has a lot of clues.

And some eye witnesses have told the police that the man was
shabby and seedy

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Before you write, think about the type of response you are going to write to him.

a. What colour ink will you use?
b. Which errors will you indicate (all or only those which interfere with understanding
etc?)
c. How will you indicate errors (underlining, circling etc) or will you provide the correct
forms?
d. How will you comment on Henry’s grammar?
e. Will you use correction symbols? Where will you put them?
f. Will you use symbols to give positive feedback - if so which ones?
g. Will you comment on the organisation of his ideas?
h. Will you comment about the content of his work?
i. Where will you respond or write comments (in the margin, at the end etc)?
j. Will you give an overall mark to Henry? If so, how will you decide on your mark?

Now write your response.

Think about these 'focus' questions

1. What kind of response would help to develop Henry’s fluency in writing?
2. What kind of response would help Henry to write more accurately?
What overall mark would you give to Henry? Give reasons.
3. What are two advantages and two disadvantages of giving Henry and overall
mark?

Commentary
1 Ask Henry to write several drafts of the story.
Ask probing questions about the content to get him to write more
De-emphasise error correction unless the errors interfere with communication.

2 Tell Henry his most characteristic errors. Indicate his errors and show him the correct
form.
Provide further explanation and exercises about his typical errors.
Develop peer and self-correction exercises to help Henry monitor his own and others'
writing for errors.

3 Advantages: provides a standard with which to measure future progress provides a
record for teacher to measure progress and ability
Disadvantages: may be discouraged if mark is lower than expected. Henry may not
pay attention to the comments and error correction but focus only on the grade

4 How necessary is a grade?

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A teacher’s response to the task
What colour ink will you use?
I would use green or blue ink so that the corrections would stand out without looking too
intimidating

Will you comment on the grammar? Organisation? Content ? How?
Grammar
As the class has just reviewed the present perfect I would comment on the murderer is not
yet been found. I would probably just circle the is in the hope that the student could self
correct. With the woman probably murdered if I was using a correction code I would put a
Λ symbol to indicate a word left out presuming that the student could self correct as he has
produced this structure correctly twice elsewhere in the composition. For the police has a lot
of clues I might point out with a note in the margin that police is plural in English as, in many
languages, it isn’t.

Organisation
The only weak point in the organisation is this introduction of man that eyewitnesses have
seen without any indication of where or what he was he doing. I would write in the margin
Where did they see the man? What was he doing?

Content
The student has told a complicated story well and has included a lot of colourful vocabulary
(this was probably included in the original story) so I would praise the content by saying
something like "An interesting story and excellent use of vocabulary. Thank you very
much."

Will you use correction symbols?
I would use the correction symbols indicated above if the students class was familiar with
them .It is very important if you are going to use correction symbols that students know
exactly what they mean so you should spend some class time in exercises getting students
to match correction symbols with different mistakes .

Will you give an overall mark ? How will you decide on the mark ?
I would probably give this writing an overall mark of A or 5 or whatever was the agreed
convention for the highest grade. This is because although the student has made ‘mistake’s
he has told quite a complicated story in an understandable manner using a wide variety of
structures and vocabulary

SYMBOL EXPLANATION EXAMPLE
S Spelling error Haus,holyday
P Punctuation error Haus (should be house)
V Verb tense error Was dead; various other forms of passive
voice incorrect
( e.g. is not yet found, murdered with a
book)
WO Incorrect word order Is not yet found
WW Wrong word used Face ( should be head)
Agr Two months; the police has
Agreement ( subject-

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verb, adjective-noun or
noun pronoun)
// Possible new paragraph at The woman
New paragraph needed probably murdered
R-O Line 1:….in her haus probably she …;
Run-on sentence Lines 3-4:…..murdered with a book she
was hit
Yesterday old woman;The woman
^ Something’s missing probably murdered

☺ Good; well done; I like
Good use of colourful vocabulary
( murdered, clues, eye witnesses,
this shabby, seedy)
_
? I don’t understand this

Task 4.5
Look at the three pieces of student writing below and together with a colleague discuss how
you would correct them using the questions in task 4.4 to guide you.

1 A letter written by a mid intermediate student

(No Salutation)
By this letter I tell you I have very qualifications for this job, for that reason and many more I
want to get this job through your company.

I heard that your company had helped many people to get a good job. I was looking for a job
since I arrive to London. I have worked in many banks I obtained my PhD in 2000th. My co-
workers said that I am a nice friendly person.

I have to move to Oxford where my son lives, he’s studying in Oxford University, now. I want
to get this job through your company, In a job that I can travel with out interfere with my job

Best regards

2 A composition written by a pre-intermediate student

The goblin

When I was a boy my grandfather spoke about a myth that was the goblin, the goblin was a
small person that used a big hat and a rune, the goblin lived in the properties and every night
he bath to the horses and them towards braids in theor mane, he sang them songs and alone
played them once and the horses will fall asleep. The goblin emitted a sound during the
morning and the afternoon that was listened by all the properties where the one was but it
was never allowed to see. He was mysterious celebrity that every day went to the same
place to see the horses.

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The sound that the goblin emitted in the afternoon was gloomy and all the children that lived
in the properties went to the house early because they didn’t want the goblin to appear.

When I listen to this story counted by my grandfather I began to tremble and I felt nervous for
that I believed the goblin will appear in any moment and I felt a lot of fear but I like to listen
the history

I liked to play with my friends at night but when I was listening the history , everyday I was
stay in my house at 6pm because was the hour the goblin began to emit a sound and I didn’t
want to appeared even when I lived in Popayan.

Believing in that I didn’t play outside of house in hours of the night again, but when I grew I
realized that was a history of our ancestors but the people lives in the properties still believes
the goblin exists .

3 From a presentation by an advanced student

Anthropologists are not the only ones who search for the past at the surroundings of the
hidalgo town founded by Andres Diaz Venero de Leiva on June 12, 1572. For the Chibcha
Indians who ere settled at the territories of this part of Boyacà before the Spaniards arrived,
human life emerged in the surroundings of Villa de Leiva . After 12 kilometers from the town
by car and about two and half hours walking, you arrive to the Iguaque flora and fauna
sanctuary . th legend says that from the waters of the lake with the same name , Bachuè ,
the mother of all human race carrying a small boy in her arms with whom she would give birth
to the first inhabitants of the world emerged . Currently this place is a beautiful nature reserve
that counts with restaurants, lodging and specialised guides that take v. last mass visitors
through a region with peacefulness and nature beauty characteristics.
If peacefulness is what you look for , the first impression doesn’t disappoint. At 8 in the
evening of a normal week day , the panorama is of less than fifty people that occupy 14
thousand square metres of what is considered the biggest stone plaza in America. (without
any doubt it’s the biggest in Colombia ) After the last mass of the day about 10 church
member leave the Parish Church of Villa de Leiva, a beautiful construction built in 1608 and
reconstructed in 1845 after having suffered an Earthquake and recently was remodeled.

Task 4.6

Read Penny Ur A Course in Language Teaching PP 170-172, 244- 258

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Effective ways of responding to written work
Let's look at ways of correcting written work that are effective. How often have you noticed
learners actually looking at the corrections that you have made on their written work? Often
students look at the grade they have received or the comment at the end of the paper then
put their written work away. The learners who receive bad marks just look at the paper and
scrunch it up, sticking it into the bottom of their bags! What have we teachers taught them?

Teachers have a great deal of power to destroy or build learners' motivation and confidence.
Therefore, it is important to respond to the learner writer as a person with feelings who has
spent a great deal of time and effort on a piece of work. And often, it is those learners who
have invested a great deal of time and effort on a piece of work who are most upset by harsh
marking.

Learner Correction
When responding to writing, if the teacher makes all the corrections, the learner will probably
not even bother to look at these. On the other hand if you use a code that both you and the
learners understand, you can respond to the writing by pointing out the mistakes without
correcting them!
Task 1
Look at the table of correction symbols below. Can you add any more?
What is the advantage of using symbols like this when you are marking?

Correction Symbols

Symbol Explanation

S Spelling error

P Punctuation error

V Verb tense error

WO Incorrect word order

WW Wrong word used

Agr Agreement (subject-verb, adjective-noun, noun-pronoun)

// New paragraph needed

R-O Run on sentence

^ something is missing

? I don’t understand this

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☺ Well done. This is good

Add more

here

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Commentary 1:
Others include (you may have your own symbols):

Correction Symbols
Symbol Explanation
WF Same as agr - wrong form
P Punctuation error
V Wrong verb form
// New paragraph needed
U You don't need a new sentence. Join up your ideas.
Ø Not necessary
[] This part needs to be re-arranged or re-worded
!! You should know what is wrong here - we've just done this in class or I've
told you many times.

Indicating errors in a text

SYMBOL MEANING EXAMPLE
S Incorrect spelling s s
I recieved jour letter
Wrong word order w.o
W.O We know well this city

T Wrong tense If he will come T
Concord. Subject and verb do not C
C agree People is very strange
Wf
WF Wrong form We want that you come

Singular or plural from wrong We need more informations s
S/P

λ Something has been left out They saidΛwas wrong
( )
( ) Something is not necessary It was too much difficult
?m
Meaning is not clear Come and rest with us for a week
?M
NA
NA The usage is not appropriate He requested me to sit down
p p
P Punctuation is wrong Whats your name

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Other things you can do to help students with mistakes are:

A Explain a mistake

For example you, you can write a comment at the end of piece of written work to draw
attention to a repeated mistake eg

Not: I am living here for ten years
I work here since 2000
But : I have been living here for ten years
I have worked here since 2000

B Tell students they should consult you about a mistake

Very often students can correct their own mistakes when attention has been drawn to them

C Use the mistake as the basis for remedial teaching

If most or all of the students in a class are making the same mistake, rather than correcting
many mistakes individually it is better to re-teach the language point and give students a few
exercises to practice it.

Classroom Research

Use some of the ways of responding to written work that you have seen in the last
section with one of your classes over a period of several weeks. Do these
techniques seem to you to have a positive effect on student writing?

In this way, the learner is expected to take responsibility for his/her mistakes and is involved
in the correction of the work. It becomes a learning experience for him/her. Whatever symbol
system you develop, it is important that you give your learners a photocopy explaining what
the symbols mean or write the symbols and their explanations on the board and ask the
learners to copy them into their notebooks. This makes everything clear for them. Moreover,
it shows that you have a commitment to improving writing and that you are not just scribbling
all over their work without thinking!

Class time for correction
It is important to make time in class to deal with these corrections. At first you may have to
train learners as they will not expect to do corrections in class. Add variety to the activities,
for example by writing some wrong sentences taken from learners' work on the white board
or use the errors in a grammar auction. These should be important mistakes that are general
to many learners, such as 'Yesterday, [missing article 'an'] old woman was found' (see
Henry's writing). Learners can discuss what is wrong and look for similar mistakes in their
own work. This will then also involve lazy learners who didn't do a task at home! Perhaps
about 10 minutes of class time should be devoted to learners doing corrections on written
work, whenever something is handed back. Learners who have not done the work should
assist those who have by giving advice on correction.

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Some teachers have suggested that they do not have this extra time to do corrections in the
class after they have read learners' papers. However, this is time usefully spent. If you make
the corrections and the learners do not even look at them, then you have wasted your time
correcting as no learning is achieved. We must set our goals on a long-term basis: when
learners are involved in the correction of their own work, they will learn to develop
their writing.

A final word…..

Things to remember when marking written work
1 Do not expect learners to produce perfect written work. Remember they are learners
of English and it is our job to help them develop their writing skills. Look first at the
message, did it come across? If it didn't, look at what caused the breakdown in
communication.

2 Developing writing skills is a long process. Just because you brought a mistake to a
learner's attention once or twice it does not mean that the learner will not make that
mistake again. It takes time for the learner to adopt the change.

3 Do not only focus on the defective parts of the writing; look for parts of the writing that
are effective, too. For example organisation, ideas, use of linking words etc. Make
sure you remember to praise these, by ticking good parts of the text or by writing a
complimentary comment at the end. Try to encourage the learner even if the writing is
weak. All work has good points so look for them so that the learner is motivated to
continue writing. You could make a collection of good expressions from different
pieces of learner work and share them with the class, making sure that you include
something from the weaker learners too. A demoralised learner will not want to
experiment with writing because he expects a negative response but he will be very
happy if you praise his effort.

4 Try using restrictive marking: for example, one week you can focus on prepositions
and the next week you can focus on tense mistakes.

5 Involve the students in the marking as much as possible. When you return work,
encourage the learners to look at each other's work and to help each other correct
their papers. Try to vary the pairs so that sometimes learners are looking at a piece of
work similar to theirs and sometimes they are looking at something better or worse so
that they can help and be helped. When learners are actively involved in correction,
they are learning and using their knowledge of English to help others. This helps to
develop their confidence in using English.

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Section 7
Language Task 3: Focus on the learners' written language

Read the guidance below on the language task and underline any key words.

Length :750 –1,000 words

Task outline

You are required to identify and correct the errors in a sample of written work from two
learners who are at different levels and provide appropriate feedback for the learners

Guidelines
Make two copies of each piece of work

1 On one copy identify and correct all the errors (the corrected version)

2 Correct and annotate the other for the learner: include a brief summarising comment
written to the learner (the annotated version)

3 Write a brief rationale for the choices made in the annotated version explaining why some
errors have been corrected and some not.

You MUST complete a language task front cover and attach this to the front of your
assignment

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Read the assessment criteria for this task on the following page very carefully so that
you are very clear what is expected from you.

PASS level tasks will fulfil all the following criteria

Task specific criteria General criteria
Language Use accurate language in summarising Good control of lexis and grammar.
accuracy comments to learners. There may be some errors of language
Demonstrate understanding and use of but these do not greatly impair meaning
and terminology to describe learner or understanding.
Language language. Shows a satisfactory understanding of
Awareness concepts and knowledge used to
describe language.
Range and Employ appropriate professional Can convey information and ideas with
Flexibility discourse in describing the rationale reasonable precision, though clarity may
for correction. be reduced when attempting to convey
more complex ideas. Adequate though
limited repertoire of vocabulary and a
restricted range of more complex
structures. Has a fairly good range of
simple language but lacks flexibility and
displays lexical limitations.
Organisation Identify and correct all errors in the The writing is adequately organised and
and content corrected version. coherent.
Make appropriate choices of errors to Task requirements are adequately
correct in the annotated version fulfilled although there may be some
Make appropriate use of language difficulty in expressing more complex
reference materials such as points.
dictionaries and grammars. A reasonable range of reading sources
that inform the writing has been
adequately understood.
Audience Provide appropriate and helpful Some of the writing might require
Awareness feedback and summarising comments greater concentration from the intended
to the learner. reader but overall it achieves its
Inform a professional reader of the intended purpose for the specified
rationale for correction. audience.

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Task 7.3
Read the following task that was submitted by a candidate on ICELT and grade it
according to the assessment criteria.

Language Task 3 - Focus on the learners' written language

Introduction

To help students understand and correct their errors, they will be underlined and a
code will be used to clarify the nature of the error.

CODE

Sp = spelling
√ = something missing
P = punctuation
WO = word order
WW = wrong word
C = capitalization
// = new paragraph needed
Agr = agreement
? = meaning is not clear
NA = usage is not appropriate
( ) = not necessary
T = wrong tense

Sample (see appendix A)

Sample A comes from a first grade student who had to research about a favourite
animal. His writing shows fluency, coherence and nice use of new vocabulary (hatch,
exposed to pollution as well as logical sequence. For these reasons, the following
errors were corrected:

1. Word order -… small birds and brown. (Should have written small and brown birds)
Students have been practising sentence construction for the last few weeks.

2 Spelling - tree (instead of three), countrys (instead of countries)
Students have been taught how to form plurals recently

1. Spelling - twenti (instead of twenty
Students have been taught how to write numbers in letters

4 Punctuation - … brown, (should have a full-stop not a comma)
Students have been taught that sentences end with a full-stop

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5 Capitalisation - . they…. (need a captial T)
Students have been taught that after a full-stop they should use a capital.

6 Spelling - Becaus (instead of because)
This is a high-frequency word that students should write corretly.

The following errors were not corrected because the students' writing is fluent and
coherent enough for he reader to understand:

1. fruts (instead of fruits)
polushon (instead of pollution)
canser (instead of cancer)
egs (instead of eggs)\
getting (instead of getting)
These words were spelled phonetically and do not hinder understanding of the text.

2. live (instead of leave) - students are learning phonetics and are still confused
by long / short e sounds

3. … and … (instead of which) students are still learning to use connectors

Alejandro's text show good command of new vocabulary and he manages to get his
message across. Although his errors do not hinder the readers' understanding, they
were marked because he has had instruction in these topics.

Appendix A: Writing Sample - Annotated Version

WO / P / C Sparrows are small birds and brown, they
SP live in the citys and countrys they lay
SP two Or tree egs and hatch after twenti
SP days. They live the nest after tree weeks.
They like to eat bugs, fruts and seeds.
SP Becaus they are exposed to polushon they

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are getting sick with canser.

Very nice writing, Alejandro, You used new words correctly and your sentences are
getting quite good. I especially liked your last sentence about pollution and cancer. You
need to work on your spelling and remember to use capitals and full-stops to begin and
end sentences. Congratulations!

Appendix B

Writing Sample - Corrected Version

Sparrows are small birds and brown, they
small an brown birds. They
live in the citys and countrys they lay two
cities and the countries. They
or tree egs and hatch after twenti days.
three eggs twenty
They live the nest after tree weeks. They like
leave three
to eat bugs, fruts and seeds. Becaus they
fruits because
are exposed to polushon they are getting sick
pollution
with canser.
cancer

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Commentary on Task 7.3
Read the marker's comments in BOLD.

Task specific criteria General criteria
Language Use accurate language in summarising Good control of lexis and grammar.
accuracy comments to learners. There may be some errors of language
Error free. but these do not greatly impair meaning
and Demonstrate understanding and use of or understanding.
Language terminology to describe learner Good control / error free
Awareness language. Shows a satisfactory understanding of
Uses some terminology successfully concepts and knowledge used to
describe language.
Rather short so not much evidence
but no misunderstandings
Range and Employ appropriate professional Can convey information and ideas with
Flexibility discourse in describing the rationale for reasonable precision, though clarity
correction. may be reduced when attempting to
Rationale is somewhat perfunctory. convey more complex ideas. Adequate
though limited repertoire of vocabulary
and a restricted range of more complex
structures. Has a fairly good range of
simple language but lacks flexibility and
displays lexical limitations.
Range seems fine and although this
lacks complex structure it is
appropriate
Organisation Identify and correct all errors in the The writing is adequately organised and
and content corrected version. coherent.
NO - has corrected "small birds and Task requirements are adequately
brown" wrongly to 'small and brown fulfilled although there may be some
birds' - should be small, brown birds. difficulty in expressing more complex
Make appropriate choices of errors to points.
correct in the annotated version - Yes NO - has included only ONE writing
Make appropriate use of language sample instead of two
reference materials such as dictionaries A reasonable range of reading sources
and grammars. - that inform the writing has been
adequately understood.
Little evidence of background
reading
Audience Provide appropriate and helpful Some of the writing might require
Awareness feedback and summarising comments greater concentration from the intended
to the learner. Encouraging reader but overall it achieves its
comments intended purpose for the specified
Inform a professional reader of the audience.
rationale for correction. Rationale could be more detailed
No not enough detail here and explicit

Grade: Resubmit
You need to provide two samples of students' writing for analysis and provide a more
detailed rationale.

We hope this is helpful when writing your task - Good luck

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POSTSCRIPT

A lesson where no error correction led to a feeling of achievement on the
part of the learners.

I recently did the following lesson:

1 I showed the class a video of a news report. They answered comprehension questions and
then did a gap fill with the transcript of the broadcast. I then asked them to underline all the
phrases where the present perfect was used and where the passive voice was used as these
two grammar aspects are very common in news reports and I wanted the students to notice
how they were used.

2 I divided the class into groups and ask each group to prepare a short news bulletin and
prepare to broadcast it. I told them to give each member of the group a role; newscaster,
reporter, witness etc. While the groups were preparing their broadcasts I did go around
correcting mistakes, giving them useful language and responding to their questions.

3 Each group acted out their broadcast while I filmed them with a video camera. A lot of
errors were made but each group managed to deliver a reasonably comprehensible news
bulletin.

3 I played back the news broadcasts on the video . This would be a very good time to focus
on error correction because I could stop the video after significant errors and ask the
class to correct them and that is a technique I have used in the past. On this occasion,
however, I didn’t do that, I simply played the video without a pause and at the end
encouraged the students to give each other a round of applause. In this way students had
the satisfaction of having achieved quite a difficult creative and linguistic task without
having the sense of achievement lessened by dwelling on their mistakes. I think there is a
place, on occasion, for doing this as the sense of unmitigated satisfaction felt by the
students can only contribute positively to their learning in the future.

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Now test yourself…….

1 What kind of skill is writing? Productive or receptive?

2 What 3 things do we need to make our students aware of when they write - are
important when giving a writing activity (three important element to include - aim,
audience and text type

3 What are the three important stages of teaching writing?

4 Name 5 'task focuses'.

5 Why are guided writing activities useful?

6 Should teachers always correct students' work?

7 What do the following corrections symbols mean:
Sp
WO
P
U
[ ]

8 What are the benefits of learners correcting their own and their classmates'
work?

Key:
1 Productive

2 Purpose/aim, Audience and Genre

3 Pre-, While-, Post-

4 Imagination and vocabulary expansion, register of language, use of formulaic phrases,
text organisation, presentation & layout, grammatical features of writing

5 Students take on responsibility for their own learning
Students will learn to develop writing
Active learning, learner-centred
Increases confidence
Students use their knowledge of English to help others.

6, No, it is important to vary activity types and writing aims

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7
Sp spelling
WO Word order
P Punctuation error
U Join ideas – no space, no new sentence
[ ] This needs to be reworded or rearranged

Students think about the topic before they write.
Sts brainstorm ideas and approaches.
Sts discuss the topic with other sts, getting new ideas and clarifying their own
thoughts.
Sts see models of similar types of writing.
The class works on a similar piece of writing together.
Sts do preliminary writing exercises - making notes, answering questions, ordering
ideas, linking sentences, etc.
Sts do language exercises with language relevant to the text they’ll write.
Sts prepare a draft for discussion and editing.
Sts do the writing task with an audience in mind.

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APPENDIX 1 – EFFECTIVE WRITING

Task 1 (Adapted from Parrott, 1993)

What is involved in effective writing? Note down your ideas here.
Commentary on task 1

Effective writing involves conveying a message in such a way as to affect the audience as the
writer intends.
Depending on the precise purpose in writing, this may, for example, involve seizing and
maintaining interest of the intended reader, conveying information clearly, delighting or
amusing the reader or persuading the reader of a particular point of view. The writer needs to
be able to imagine the reader and to assess their knowledge of the topic, their assumptions
about the topic and their attitudes towards it and interests in it.
In achieving the purpose for writing, the writer makes choices about a number of factors.
Look at the list of some of those factors below

grammar
handwriting
vocabulary
paragraphing
cohesion
formulaic phrases
coherence
spelling
organisation
capitalisation
layout
punctuation
underlining

Can you add more factors to the listt?

5.1 Cohesion and Coherence

These are vital to communication of any kind. However, it is when writing that learners of a
foreign language find that if they have problems in these areas, they become highlighted.

Task 2
From Parrott, 1993

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Look at the following extracts from compositions written by learners of English. Both
students have problems with cohesion, which is why the texts seem odd even though
mistakes of grammar and vocabulary have been corrected.

a My landlady is an old woman. My landlady is very kind to me. She does not give
me rice to eat. My landlady does not know I am used to eating a lot of rice. In
my country people of my country need to eat a lot of rice.

b My landlady is called Mrs Jones. She lives on a ground floor of house. It is
a very old house. Sometimes it rains. Water comes through a roof. My
room is not at top of a house. My room is dry.

1. Rewrite the texts so that they ‘read’ naturally.

2. Define cohesion and make a list of words which commonly act as ‘cohesive
devices’.

Martin Parrott: Tasks for Language Teachers
© Cambridge University Press1993

a My landlady is an old woman, who is very kind to me. However, she does
not know that people in my country need to eat a lot of rice and so I am
used to this. Consequently, she does not give me rice to eat.

b My landlady, Mrs Jones, lives on the ground floor of a very old
house. Although water comes through the roof when it rains, my
room is dry because it is not at the top.

Cohesion refers to the explicit linguistic signalling of relationships that are within a text. These
relationships are commonly signalled by:

Proforms/pronouns My dad is a teacher and he lives …..
I haven’t been to Japan but my sister went there last year.

Conjunctions although, as well as, so, because etc

Substituted nouns I like cats but my sister can’t stand felines.

Comparatives I have just seen a bad accident but the one I saw last year was even
worse.

Determiners the, this, that, some of the

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Task 3
Parrott, 1993.

Look at the two sentences. Both are cohesive but one of them has a problem with coherence.
Which one?

a. Yesterday I got up late and had a quick breakfast.

b. Yesterday I got up late and bought a car.

Commentary

‘Coherence’ describes the logical relations between the ideas and information embodied in
discourse. In coherent text it is clear how sentences relate to sentences, and paragraphs to
paragraphs (exemplifying a point made, countering a point made, extending a point made,
etc). Coherence is helped by cohesion, but often a writer assumes that the reader will use
particular aspects of general knowledge and knowledge of the specific conventions of certain
kinds of text to supply the necessary logical connections.

In sentence (a) above, it is clear that the relationship between getting up late and having a
quick breakfast is one of cause and effect.

In sentence (b), the two parts of the sentence appear to be unrelated and it is difficult to infer
any connection. In this sentence there is a problem of coherence.

c. I had a wonderful weekend. Yesterday I got up late and had a leisurely breakfast.

The second of the sentences in (c) is grammatically similar to sentence (a) above. Again it is
perfectly coherent. However, in this case the relationship between the two parts of the
sentence is not one of cause and effect but of equivalence – both parts of the sentence
illustrate and expand the information contained in the first sentence.
In both sentences (a) and (c) ‘and’ provides the cohesion. However, the relationship it
implies can be derived only through the context and knowledge (in these cases of
conventional human behaviour) which the reader brings to bear in the act of interpreting.

1. In writing English, which presents more problems for your students, cohesion or
coherence?
2. Is the same true when they are reading English?

© Cambridge University Press1993Martin Parrott: Tasks for Language Teachers

Task 5
Now look at the materials you use with your learners. Find an activity that aims to develop
writing. Which of the sub-skills mentioned here does it develop or practise? How effectively
does it develop the skills?

Task 6
Note down all the reasons you think of for writing in the classroom.

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Bibliography

Hadfield C & Hadfield J (1990) Writing Games Nelson
Harmer J (1998) How to Teach English Longman
Hedge T (1988) Writing OUP
Scrivener J (1994) Learning English Heinemann
Tanner R & Green C (1998) Tasks for teacher education: Addison Wesley
a reflective approach Longman
(course book and trainer's
book)
Vince M (1996) Jackpot 1 & 2 Heinemann
Richards J Interchange 2 CUP
Oxenden C & Seligson P English File 1& 2 OUP
Susan Kay Reward Pre-Intermediate Heinemann
The Lake School of English Resource Pack

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