Using the word processor to support the drafting and redrafting process: an example in Arabic

Azza Darwish (Arabic Community School in Hounslow) with Jim Anderson (Goldsmiths College) The word processor can be a very effective tool for the development of writing skills especially in a second language, but often its potential is not realised. It should be used not just to make work 'look good' but to support the whole process of drafting and redrafting, from getting down initial ideas, to elaborating these into pieces of continuous text, to finding the right order in which to place things, to rephrasing and adding bits of detail, to checking and correcting mistakes in spelling and grammar, to getting feedback from the teacher and making improvements. Carrying out these operations when writing by hand is a slow and laborious process, with the result that many students lose heart and settle for less than they are capable of. Doing them on the word processor, on the other hand, is natural because it removes the anxiety of having to get it right first time. This is why students often write more and take more risks when writing on computer. One word of caution! Don't assume that students will learn the skill of drafting and redrafting without some guidance. The comparative ease of producing text on computer can also lead students to become lazy and to make more mistakes than when writing by hand. The following is an example of work by Noha, a student at the Arabic School in Hounslow who will be entering for GCSE next year. The teacher has corrected her first draft and suggested how she can make improvements. Noha has then revised her first draft and resubmitted this to the teacher as her final version. The title " Eid-El Fitr" was created using clipart. Student Nuha, who is twelve years old, was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, although her parents are originally from Syria. She was brought up bilingually by her parents with Arabic being the main language used at home. From the age of six she has studied Arabic in community schools in different parts of the country and has been attending the Arabic Community School in Hounslow for the past two years. Noha is a keen reader and her parents encourage her to read both in Arabic and in English. She subscribes to ‘Maged’, a weekly Arabic magazine for children published in the United Arab Emirates and also likes to read from the Muslims' holy book, ‘ The Koran’, which is reflected in her writing style. With regard to her English, Noha achieved level 5 in her English SAT exam (11+) and, on entry to secondary, was identified as a gifted pupil. Word processing software in Arabic and Panjabi. Steve Cushion of London Metropolitan University (Department of Humanities, Arts and Languages) has created a basic text editor for these two languages which can be downloaded free of charge. These can easily be installed on school networks or on computers at home. For further information go to: Task: Task Students were asked to write on the topic of Eid-El Fitr, the festival of fast breaking at the end of Ramadan.

National Curriculum level Nuha's writing demonstrates features expected at level 7 including the ability to draft and redraft her work

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