Teaching Writing Skills

According to Your Students' Needs


Teaching Writing SkillsA teacher needs to know the techniques for teaching writing skills, and should remember that different levels and different styles of writing require different methods.

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Let's take a look at some of the different methods you will need to use.

Beginners and Elementary level Students

At this level, students need a lot of help.

To start with, it is a good idea to provide templates with missing words for them to complete.

Once they have mastered this challenge, then they can progress to what is sometimes called "skeleton writing."

An example of this would be where students are asked to write a postcard from a holiday. They could be provided with the "skeleton" or outline of the card.

For example:

Dear __________,

(Where are you?)

(What are you doing?)

(Describe where you are staying)

(When are you going home?)

This gives the students the opportunity to concentrate on their English skills, rather than spending too much time thinking about what to write.

Developing writing skills at higher levels

Once a student gets to a good elementary level, he or she should be able to write simple letters, stories, and familiar factual information using simple present, present progressive, and simple past tenses as a minimum.

The students should then be ready to move onto more complicated texts, and texts about slightly less familiar subjects.

Some techniques you could use to develop skills are:

  • Introduce a wider range of reading materials into your classroom.

  • Read out the bare outline of a story and encourage students to add descriptions, adjectives, adverbs, relative clauses, conjunctions, etc.

  • Introduce collaborative writing tasks.

    For example students work in groups to write a story or research and write an article. Alternatively, the whole class writes a story, with each pair writing two sentences before passing onto the next pair.

  • Encouraging peer correction of work.

  • Offering non-specific correction.

    For example, telling students where their mistakes are (and the type of mistake), rather than actually correcting it yourself.

Academic writing

Academic writing is as much about organization, style, and structure as it is about grammar and vocabulary.

Activities you could use to practice academic writing are:

  • Looking at the differences between formal, neutral and informal texts and discussing which ones are acceptable for academic writing.

  • Providing a range of academic essays, cut into sections, for the students to assemble into logical texts.

  • Asking the students to research and write different styles of academic essays.

    For example, a discursive essay, and an opinion essay.

  • Giving the students texts containing mistakes, and asking them to correct them.

Business writing

One of the main things to be aware of when teaching business writing in English is that different texts have different styles and formats.

For example, a financial report has a different style than a marketing letter or an email.

  • Provide your students with a variety of texts so they can see the differences between them, and start discussions on appropriate versus inappropriate language.

  • Give constructive feedback to your students, in a way that makes them think about the mistakes, rather than just read corrections.

  • Some students will appreciate being given set phrases that are useful in certain types of business text, and they can then be asked to work them into their writing.

Don't neglect the other skills

Some students want to improve their written English more than any other skill, particularly if they are learning for business or academic purposes.

But don't neglect the other skills – it is important to improve all four skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening), not only concentrating on teaching writing skills.

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