It might ‘cost you dear’! That is what we generally hear when people talk about investing time and money in learning a foreign language. By the same token, professional teachers are usually judged by how qualified they are in the teaching community and investing time and money on CPD seminars seems pretty much the way to go. On 18th March, I had the opportunity to meet up with brilliantly committed teaching professionals at Braz-Tesol Belo Horizonte Chapter on Teacher’s Development. BTW, well done you on your organisation.
I delivered a talk which dealt with different ways we might provide feedback on writing in a more systematic, constructive and effective way without much damage to the learners’ liking. I was approached by Luiz Otávio Barros, a professional I met in my DELTA 2004 and I have always looked up to since then, and he goes like this: ‘’Thank you for taking the bull by the horns. We don’t often see people with courage to deal with writing as you do!’’ Not only did I feel honoured by his remarks but I also perceived that my beliefs are still on the right tracks.
I have been preparing students, university professors for academic tests and the kind for quite a long time now and I often have them complaining about how to grapple with the Writing part of such tests, especially an argumentative essay. I do not have a magic formula for that, though Process Writing seems to be an appropriate alternative. Painstaking in the beginning, yet a powerful tool in the end when you get the knack of it. There are a few steps which should be borne in mind. Further down is an outline (IACEP) of what ‘we’ usually use to minimise this pain.
- I for Introduction
The name lends itself to what the purpose of the writing task this part is. The introduction must contain a topic sentence which will in turn provoke the reader. That is, an existing idea or argument that should make the reader go like ‘interesting, I’ll read it!’. This is the moment you have the opportunity take the reader fishing.
- A for Arguments
This is an extremely important part to get the readers going. Arguments and ideas must be well-founded so that you can establish a dialogue with them. Present your arguments but, more importantly, what causes and consequences such arguments can provide. In order to back your ideas up, make sure you can exemplify them with historical contexts and how such contexts might influence the present or future. This dialectic is fundamental when thesis and anti-thesis are confronted to produce another thesis.
- C for Conclusion
Needless to say, after the ‘gone fishing’ part, this is the moment you have your reader with the catch of the day. Briefly go over your arguments afore mentioned by reassuring your viewpoint. Mind you, using clichés might be too clichéd.
- E for Editing
The editing part is absolutely critical. Being capable of re-reading your text bearing in mind both cohesion and coherence is one skill I believed should be developed within the classroom environment. Accuracy is one important element and as for cohesion, language imperfections concerning grammar, lexis, spelling should be dealt with so that the reader can follow you more precisely. Another point to be considered is fluency. At this point, coherence goes hand in hand with how you say/write it. Your arguments need to be put forward in a flow so that your conversation with the reader reaches a good level of understanding.
- P for Practice
As I said before, there is no magic formula for that but practice. Similarly to other skills, only by practising can one develop writing. The more you pen or key down your ideas, the better you get at writing. Trust me, I have been down on these roads before.
To sum up, I have found out that careful instruction to work with Writing the path to success cannot be that hard. Our using such approach is instrumental in providing learners with feasible strategies to be employed. The same goes for teachers with both academic and professional tools to enhance their English teaching abilities. Despite the fact that some teachers might encounter difficulties when teaching writing, a positive attitude to it does prepare us for this fast-moving, challenging teaching world. It is true that selecting, setting tasks and correcting our students’ papers can be a time-consuming task. Nevertheless, it is also true that the whole process is what matters most and, personally speaking; it has been worthwhile so far.
Consequently, on the CPD front, it is our role to raise learners’/teachers’ awareness of the fact that working with writing on regular basis can do a lot more good than harm. It is also important to make sure the lessons or instructions are carried out with a minimum level of stress and a maximum level of pleasure. So, the ‘might cost you dear’ could well be responded with ‘a stitch in time saves nine’!