Developing Writing Skills
Teaching students writing skills is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult ones because it affects a lot of different language areas and learners need to be able to activate all previous knowledge they have just learned and adequate it to the type of text he or she is being asked to produce. Moreover, ittakes a lot of time and effort both by teachers and students. Developing writing activities is a complex process, teachers need to plan lessons which cover all possible gaps and, on the other hand, it takes time to brainstorm ideas and collect them, time to draft, revise and edit, and, finally, time to allow students produce their final product.
In this paper I am going to design a lesson in whichI have to teach students how to develop this skill as much effectively as possible. The following lesson has been designed for 2nd ESO students bearing in mind the group from this level I taught during my practicum sessions because I thought it would be better than imagining another one.
I really think writing cannot be taught in isolation. In fact, when we write we hope it to be read bysomeone. So, I propose a writing activity which has to be interactive and communicative, making students know they are going to have a real reader they are writing for and giving them a clear purpose in order to create a realistic context which will benefit students.
As you will see, I have divided the lesson into different stages, from group and more enjoyable activities to the individual and writingactivity per se. I consider it is necessary to spend time on the pre-writing stage if we want the students to engage in the writing we will ask them to do and to give them a good reason for doing so.
2. STUDENTS / CLASSROOM PROFILE
I have designed this lesson for 2nd ESO students. There are 20 students in class, and the group is quite homogeneous in learning terms. There are only 4 studentswho have more difficulty in learning English, and just one of them who is repeating the course. There are no students with curricular adaptations.
In general, their attitude towards learning is excellent and it is directly reflected on the smooth running of the lessons. Nearly all of them get good grades and their level is higher than the rest of the other 2nd ESO groups at school.
Theconditions for learning inside the classroom are superb, and many students compete among themselves in order to get the highest mark. Moreover, they are very curious and quick, and they work at a steady pace.
They are all good friends and there are no problems of coexistence. They all come from a middle-class background and there are two immigrants (a Bulgarian and a Rumanian) who are totally adaptedto our system.
The writing activity I am going to ask them to do is to write a postcard to one of their classmates telling him or her about his or her last holidays. I want them to learn postcard-writing skills but, above all, to show them how to use writing for communication.
In fact, I think postcards are an excellent vehicle to teach writing because they offer not only theopportunity to develop formulaic structures like greetings and dates but also give a framework which is short but useful in learning language (in this case, what I really want students to do is to practice narration in the past and also use descriptive language), opening the door to genuine communication. They carry cultural, artistic and personal information students are going to pass on to otherswithout even been aware of it. Moreover, it allows for both communicative interaction and individual creativity in which learning takes place in a nearly authentic setting, providing meaningful practice in producing real message texts.
So, I really think it is an appropriate activity for 2nd ESO students because, even though some of them could think writing postcards is something useless, they are...