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Teach English in Linji Zhen - Huai'an Shi
Writing, similar to speaking, is a productive skill. In comparison to listening and reading, both of which are receptive skills, writing is comparatively difficult for students to conquer in a relatively short period, because it requires a great deal of receptive knowledge gained from reading and listening practice. In an overall angle, writing is composed of several aspects: a solid foundation of grammatical knowledge, a good command of cohesion and coherence, an in-depth accumulation of lexical range, and a sophisticated system of logical development. Therefore, it is hard for students to make obvious progress in the writing course. I had taught English writing for the past two years to my high school Chinese students. To be honest, I feel it challenging yet rewarding to undertaker the writing teaching task. What is challenging is that students’ language proficiency is below average, while rewarding is that I have my teaching skills and language proficiency enhanced while teaching. There are a number of ways that I think useful to a writing class. 1. Ensure a necessarily large amount of input There are a variety of topics in writing, some of which are closely related to our daily life, such as transportation, work, health, environment, education and Internet. Though students may think that they know how to write such a topic, it turns out to be hard because they have so little input that they feel it hard to develop a convincing paragraph. In response to this problem, I often use one or two classes out of a week, letting students to watch TED talks or read an article taken from China Daily or other authoritative magazines like Economists. I would then ask students to discuss in groups, sorting out the useful ideas and wonderful expressions or sentences. In the next class, I would give students a related topic and ask them to write a short essay using the ideas they accumulated last class. This way is necessary and helpful for student because they need take in the good ideas, digest and transform them into their own knowledge, and put them into actual writing practices, which tackles the problems of having few opinions on a topic to a certain degree. 2. Conduct imitative writing practice If students still do not know how to write an essay on a specific topic, the most direct and simple way is to let them do an imitative writing. To be specific, I would first give students a sample essay. Then, I ask them to complete the following tasks: check the words and expressions which they are not familiar with, analyze how the paragraphed are developed (i.e. logical development), and good sentence structures. After that, I would ask students to recite the phrases and sample sentences structures. In the end, they are required to write this essay according to the Chinese version given, using the expressions and sentence structures they have recited in the sample essay. After this procedure, students need to check their translation work in comparison to the sample essay so as to make sure which part is still not mastered and need further hard work. 3. Do Chinese-English sentence translation One of the major obstacles Chinese students encounter is the disturbance of Chinese sentence structure and Chinese way of thinking. Therefore, doing Chinese-English sentence translation is of great importance. In this process, students need to analyze the possible English sentence structure and find the suitable English words or collocations to the corresponding Chinese expressions. Normally, my students would do three Chinese-English translation sentences every class, and have these sentences corrected in the next class. In this way, they can practice at least 100 sentences one semester. In order to enhance their translation capacity, I would give them quiz every two weeks. Luckily, under my strict guidance and requirement, most of the students can write grammatically-correct sentences, even if the sentences are complex sentences. To me, translation is indispensable to writing practice, because it can help student drill their grammatical ability and lexical skill, thus laying a foundation for essay writing. 4. Give students timely feedback in person Feedback is also necessary. Every student has his or her own problem. So after mentioning the common mistakes that everyone may have, it is necessary for the teacher to give students feedback in person before the next class commences. Usually, one-on-one tutoring is really helpful in writing class. There are the four techniques that I reckon useful to my writing class. After all, smart effort makes progress. Students should be willing to work hard and do exactly what the teachers ask them to do.