writing and the young efl learner - and the young efl learner ... writing helps students to...
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Writing and the Young EFL Learner
Facilitator: Sarah Coutts
Objectives: This workshop aims to:
1. provide an overview of essential points to consider when teaching
writing to elementary EFL students, and
2. provide a toolbox of activities for teachers to use from beginner to
Writing helps students to solidify the grammar and vocabulary that
they are studying.
Writing lets students create their own meaning, which has longer
benefits in memory and application.
Both the students culture and classroom environment have a
significant impact on students development as writers.
Writing develops essential linguistic and critical thinking skills that
can be transferred between languages to some extent.
Where to Start?
Obviously, knowing the alphabet and basic words is an essential first step
towards being able to write longer tasks. However, this does not mean
that its necessary to spend several weeks on teaching the alphabet only.
It is, however, essential to ensure that students make important
distinctions in the language such as capital letters and punctuation, which
are extremely important in English.
Also, remember that the four core skills in language (reading, writing,
listening and speaking) are interdependent and should be taught as such.
After youve chosen a phonics system (e.g. Letterland, Jolly Phonics, Zoo
Phonics, etc.), group the sounds according to their frequency of use.
The following is one example of how to group sounds when teaching them
to new students. This does not mean that you will teach all of these letters
in one lesson, but rather that you will sequence your letters in this order1.
1 http://jollylearning.co.uk Date Accessed: 14 December 2013
Consider the following lesson to introduce new sounds/letters to students:
SAMPLE LESSON STRUCTURE
Warm up with an alphabet song or chant that the students know well. As students learn more letters and sounds, have them make random letters with their hands or bodies. Call out letters in non-alphabetical order to test their knowledge of the alphabet and sounds.
Introduce the sound with a short story and place a slight emphasis on the sound to be taught. For example: Sammy the snake likes to explore. His friends that
he is silly to explore by himself because it is dangerous but Sammy doesnt listen to them. Sammy knows what to do when he is scared. He says, Sssss.
Ask the students what sound they heard the most in the story. Prompt them if necessary. Have the students imitate the sound. Ask the students what Sammy says when hes scared. Let them move like a snake while practicing the sound.
Introduce the students to other words beginning with /s/. Start by saying the words so that they learn to recognize the sound by listening before reading. For example: Teacher: Listen to these words. Do they start with
Sammy Snake? sun star sat step Teacher: Can you tell me other words that start
with Sammy Snake? Now that the students can hear the /s/ sound, its time to show it to them and to trace the letter. Once they have practiced tracing the sound, they need to practice writing the sound by themselves.
After practicing writing the sound, give the students 8 10 pictures (of objects for which they have already learned the vocabulary) and ask them which words start with /s/ - at least half of the words should start with the letter being practiced. Also, remember that the words must start with /s/ - words that end in /s/ or have /s/ in the middle should be done as a separate exercise. Give students a worksheet with pictures of items and tell them to write the letter /s/ under each picture that starts with that sound. You can then move on to worksheets where the /s/ is left out of words like sun. Next, students will practice tracing then writing whole words that start with the target sound. Then progress to three word choices with a picture in which students have to identify the correct word for a particular picture. Ex. Give them a picture of the sun with the words run, fun and sun. Students must then identify the correct word for the picture. Move on to pattern sentences such as I like. and ultimately writing their own sentences.
As a homework task, ask students to find pictures of things that start with /s/ or have an /s/ in them. You can also assign short sentences or words. This can then be extended to them finding words based on a theme and ultimately writing sentences using their vocabulary as it increases.
Once all of the individual sounds, including vowels, have been taught and students can write short sentences like The sun is hot. And The dog sits in the sun., move on to blends, diagraphs and diphthongs before moving on to rhyming words.
Write the letter in the circle that comes next. The first
one has been done for you.
d a y m
h r b v
c u w r
s j t x
q e g p
i f k
Asking students to write may seem more intimidating for teachers than
children. Its true that some students will really struggle to complete
writing tasks, but its equally true that every child can complete these
tasks in some way if theyre given the right encouragement. How they
complete the task is less important than that they try and are encouraged
to write regardless of their ability. Its also important that they not be
taught to fear writing.
As students progress from specific structural patterns to create sentences,
organize descriptions, and layouts of specific types of writing, it becomes
increasingly important for teachers to provide opportunities for students
to have a specific context and audience to write for. Developing a sense of
audience is an essential part of communicating in writing and it is possible
even at an early stage of writing.
In the initial stages of writing, a sense of audience can be created by
encouraging students to write sentences that other student have to
decide are true/false or guess the answers to. Older or more confident
students can be encouraged to experiment with different text types, such
A Day in a Cavemans Life Letters
Autobiographies My New Jellybean
Birthday Cards Opinions
Cartoons and Comics Personal Ads
Crosswords Picture Prompts
Daily Routines Poems
Dialogues Potions and Spells
Emails Ransom Notes
Extraordinary Jobs SMSes
Finish the Story Stories from the Past
Fortune Telling Story Frames
Gap Fills (Mad Libs) Thank You Notes
Instructions Tongue Twisters
Invitations Wanted Posters
Modelling Writing Examples for Students
Regardless of the style of writing you plan to do with your students, its
essential to provide them with several examples of the structure of the
target writing. Provide them with an outline of the structural components
and practice, as a class, identifying the structural components of each text.
Once youve done this, consider writing a text together as a class or in
groups for the students to practice further especially if the students
have basic to intermediate language skills. Even advanced or more
proficient students may need more modelling than anticipated.
Writing activities can be divided into those which are guided and tend to
encourage some form of copying, and those that are a little freer and
encourage more creativity. Guided copying is often used to practice
handwriting, spelling and new grammatical constructions. The support
frameworks you choose give learners guidance on producing written work
within clearly defined constraints. The use of a substitution chart, for
example, can provide a simple sentence pattern such as Jack likes hot
dogs, but Jane likes hamburgers. Students then adapt this sentence using
information on the chart provided.
To keep students motivated, make sure you adjust the practice level of the
writing tasks. Freer tasks not only encourage creativity, but help students
to develop independence while practicing planning, organizing ideas and
understanding text types. Guided writing activities are a necessary
foundation for more creative writing and help students to develop
confidence in their skills. Examples of writing activities at word-, sentence-
and text-level are provided in the following table.
Labels for Pictures/Diagrams
Anagrams (words with scrambled
Charts for Surveys/Questionnaires
Classifying Words into Word
l Captions for Pictures
Speech Bubbles for Characters
Writing Information from Charts