A fundamental aspect of acquiring skills in a new language is the ability to communicate messages in writing. For a teacher of English as a second language, nurturing students to develop sound writing skills is crucial to the success of the student both as a learner of the language, and their skills communication skills in reading, speaking and even listening in English. The natural ability of native speakers to communicate in a given language does not automatically indicate proficiency in their writing skills, which must be acquired.
The psycholinguist Eric Lenneberg noted that writing is a culturally specific and learned behaviour (Brown, H.D, p334). Consequently, writing skills are important to developing a student’s appreciation of Western culture and a student who does not acquire sound writing skills is deprived of many benefits of reading and communicating with the Western world.
This essay will explore the key principles for developing writing skills for non-English speakers, and how these principles can be applied by a teacher of English writing skills in a classroom context. The essay will explore relevant literature and research in this area.
Key Principles for Developing Writing Skills
The ability to write and express oneself in a second language with accuracy and coherence is a complicated skill. As stated by Celce-Murcia, as many native speakers of English never master this skill (Celce-Murcia, M, p187).
Mastery of English Fundamentals
That good writing skills take time to develop is understandable since good written expression draws on many other aspects of one’s English abilities – including a good grasp of English grammar, accurate spelling, extensive vocabulary, unders...
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... ability to read widely improves a learner`s writing skills. In designing classroom activities, a teacher could apply pedagogical practices that exercise a range of these skills. Joy Reid suggests the use of cooperative and group work that offer writers authentic audiences, the integration of language skills in class activities, and the use of relevant, authentic materials and tasks (Carter, R and Nunna D, (Eds), p32).
As Prabhu states, there is no best method to teaching English writing (Prabhu, N.S, p175) and a successful teacher is likely to use a combination of all these methodologies. In a classroom context, the best methods focus on the process of writing, the use of free expression in the framework of learned conventions and controlled expressions, and the teaching of culture simultaneous with the teaching of language skills and writing.
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