There have been a lot of pendulum swings in our profession since the early 90s, but the teaching of writing seems to be a bit of an exception. Compared to, for example, the sibling rivalry between PPP vs. task-based learning, the half-hearted nod of approval translation’s finally starting to get or, say, the recent comeback of formulaic language, the principles underlying the teaching of writing have remained relatively unscathed from ELT’s constant quest for the latest craze. We owe this, to a certain extent at least, to Ron White’s and...

Hello again! In the past few months I’ve talked about ways to make what we do in the classroom more relevant to our learners’ lives, particularly with regard to the inclusion of digital media.  This month I’d like to give an idea for how to change a typical English language writing task into a task that relates more to real life writing. Let’s take this task as our starting point. Write a paragraph describing your home.  If we look at a model that we could ask students to read to begin, it...

Hello and welcome to March! In 2009 I read an article in Wired magazine that reported on the Stanford Study of Writing and I was very struck by this quote from the leader of the study, Dr Andrea Lunsford, who said, “I think we’re in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen since Greek civilization.” (Lunsford, 2009 in Thomson) This impressed me as a very strong statement, so I looked a little closer at the study. Basically, the team at Stanford followed 190 students for...