Teach English in Wutaqi JiAnyu - Xing'an Meng — Hinggan

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Megan Sutherland TEFL Certificate Course 31 January 2020 Teaching productive skills, that is, speaking and writing, was the topic of Unit Twelve in the ITT certification course. Speaking and writing are two essential aspects of language development. These two skills need to be developed in our students in order to have the ability and confidence for effective communication in their foreign language. It is stated in the unit text, however, that “writing is the most neglected skill in the TEFL world.” ( ITT 12 Unit 12 Teaching productive skills 2) If this is in fact true, what are the best researched based practices that can be used in the classroom to ensure writing is being taught and developed in an effective, meaningful and authentic way? Cambourne's model of learning literacy “suggests that authentic engagement accompanied by immersion and demonstration result in learning. Students learn to write when they are surrounded with examples and models, given expectations, allowed to make decisions and mistakes, given feedback and allowed time to practice in realistic ways.” (Morrow and Gambrell 296) Lev Vygotsky theorized that oral language and inner speech were important foundations for writing. He also believed that writing embedded in social interactions was a stronger practice because students were able to create new meaning and thought as they interacted together. When writing tasks are centered around shared social experiences using the demonstration, immersion, and engagement approach to teaching students can create meaning in context and therefore develop their writing, reading, and speaking abilities. Some classroom activities discussed in Marrow and Gambrell's Best Practices in Literacy Instruction that support the method of engagement, immersion and demonstration include text messaging as an authentic and relative writing task, writer's workshop notebooks, participating in the writing process, and genre study. Unit Twelve of the TEFL course text suggests working on poetry, stories, plays, as well as cartoon strips to encourage creative writing. A list of word games is also provided as a resource at the end of the text with games such as 20 Questions, Crosswords, Charades, Pictionary, etc. Writer's Workshop is an excellent format for engaging students and demonstrating the writing process as well as a way to encourage students to see themselves as writers. Writer's Workshop notebooks can be used to brainstorm writing topics, develop stories and text, to revise, review and edit writing as well as a tool to use during writing conferences with peers or instructors. This is an excellent resource for teachers to gauge the development of writing skills throughout the school year. Developing vocabulary is also an important aspect of creative writing. When a student has a fuller vocabulary they are more likely to have the confidence to write. The games mentioned in the unit text as well as using a word wall during writer's workshop or realia are all great ways for students to deepen their vocabulary. When focusing on productive skills, what role does formal grammar instruction play in writing and speaking instruction? Apparently emphasis on mechanics and usage actually has been shown to have a negative effect on improving student writing. “Research shows grammar instruction to have little positive effect on writing” (Morrow and Gambrell 297) but suggests a connection between writing and spelling. Accuracy and automaticity in spelling can significantly increase fluency and the quality of writing. In Unit Twelve of this course it is stated that “One of the best ways to help students with spelling is through extensive reading.” (ITT 12 Unit 12 Teaching productive skills 7) Using a word processor may also aid in fluency of writing as most are equipped with auto-correct for spelling errors. It is however beneficial to present grammar topics or even controversies to older students so they become aware of written grammar structures and how and when to use them appropriately. Works Cited Morrow Mandel, Linda Gambrell. Best Practices in Literacy Instruction Fourth Edition. New York The Guilford Press, 2011. Print. ITT 12 Unit 12 Teaching productive skills. Teflserver, 2011, https://db.teflserver.com/eeap/index.php/units/