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why do we teach students writing?

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Joined: 30 May 2007
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 5:26 am    Post subject: why do we teach students writing? Reply with quote

Nowadays, some chinese middle school students complain that writing is their least favorite course because they are always asked to write for consolidating language,instead of writing for communication. But we should also help them to pass the exam, so I'm confused whether we should teach writing for grammar or for communication?
Would you please give me some reference books or some advise?
Thank you.
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Sally Olsen

Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1322
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would recommend anything by Halliday or about Systemic Functional Grammar. Personally Beverly Derewianka makes things clear for me and she has a number of great books.

There are some great discussions about this on the Applied Linguistics thread as well.
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Joined: 30 May 2007
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 7:22 am    Post subject: Thank you Reply with quote

Thanks for your recommendation!
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Heads Up English

Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 28
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For some students, they need to see the language. For some students, it helps to associate the language with some kind of physical movement. So writing can be helpful, even in a class that focuses on speaking.

I can understand that most students don't like writing because it takes longer to produce results. Any mistakes remain on the page, too. Try constructing activities that require writing as a means to gather information during a speaking activity. For example, interview three people about their weekend, take notes, and then present the information to a fourth person. Decide who had the most interesting weekend. Or write a story in a group, with students taking turns to add to the story one sentence at a time (like a round-robin activity). These sort of activities are usually received more positively.

For a book on general ESL teaching, I like H. Douglas Brown's Teaching by Principles.

Chris Cotter
Heads Up English - Materials based on current events. Just print, and teach!
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Joined: 02 Feb 2004
Posts: 92
Location: China

PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2007 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How are their handwriting skills?

I've come across older students who'd been studying English for ages , yet were still moving at a snail's pace. After some initial observation, I'd realized that they couldn't write efficiently! Not only had they never learnt strategies for quick handwriting, such as joined Italic, but couldn't even write their basic letters properly (e.g. clockwise 'a's and 'o's starting from the bottom, 'd's starting from the top, muddled-up 'f's, and confused 'g' and 'q' tails).

Needless to say, if a student must struggle just to produce legible handwriting at any reasonable speed, he'd naturally going to dislike it. My guess is, some previous teacher, in a race to the finish lins, had decided to cut corners with the basics and move on to the 'important stuff' Rolling Eyes

I've managed to turn some students to enjoying handwriting a little more just by taking some time to teach them propper letter forms and efficient joins! You know, the unimportant stuff busy teachers haven't got time for. Razz

Now as for history in simple English, you could try:

I'll warn you though: this book is full of typos, so you might want to edit it first. And since it is a little outdated, you might need to explain a few points to the students too.

As for grammar, no, the book isn't that easy. But as for vocabulary, it's very low level. It's based on Ogden's Basic English, and certainly has no literary pretensions.

You'd mentionned a range of levels also. Another option would be to choose selected approapriate passages from the KJV side-by-side with a paraphrase from the Bible in Basic English ()also based on the same 850 words of Ogden's Basic English. this could allow the student to choose to what extent he wishes to try to understand the KJV, or to just stick to the BBE.

It's available here:

And if you check:

You might find some useful stuff there too. But I'll warn you to be very selective: That site is full of typos.

And ifg you want help to produce your own written material, try:

It includes Basic English along with other filtering options for text.

And you could try Simple English Wikipedia:

It hasn't got a formally defined form of English to be used, though, but it's likely to still be easier than standard English none-the-less:
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Joined: 07 Mar 2004
Posts: 97
Location: Tokyo

PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 12:38 am    Post subject: Writing Reply with quote

It should be able to combine writing to consolidate language knowledge and real communication. For example, if you get them writing problem page letters and then answer each others' problems with "should".
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Joined: 18 May 2007
Posts: 151
Location: Los Angeles, California

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 6:18 am    Post subject: Let students write letters of complaint, etc Reply with quote

Sometimes you have to cajole students.

I have given out postcards and holiday cards. Both are very simple, and a fine first day exercise to teach the idea of target audiences and basic conventions.

Ask them to write a letter of complaint to somebody. They don't have to share it - just write it. It can be fun and illuminating.

THey can write letters to their younger selves. They can write letters to their future selves. They can send letters of gratitude - and they can share them.

Movie reviews are also popular. I urge students to post them on IMDB and Amazon. I also encourage students to write product reviews - whether or not they actually own the product.

Just make each assignment meaningful on some fundamental level. Provide appropriate vocabulary. Offer useful phrases. Provide time for peer reviews.

Writing, contrary to their fears, can be fun and liberating.
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