Oxford University Press

English Language Teaching Global Blog

Teachers tell us the top writing challenges they face in the classroom

3 Comments

Solutions-Writing-Challenge-logo-WEBIn January this year we asked teachers from around the world to vote for their top writing challenge. Over 450 teachers took part and the results are now in!

With 23% of the vote, the most popular writing challenge was: ‘My students don’t want to write’. Many teachers felt that demotivation lay at the heart of this challenge, with students unable to see the importance of writing beyond the classroom.

Martina in the Czech Republic said: “Lack of motivation is hard to break. (Students) say they don’t need to write in their lives and what they need is to be able to speak English. They even say they’ve forgotten how to write by hand, and they don’t have computers in class.”

Maja in Croatia faces a similar challenge: “My students find writing boring because it usually takes longer than other tasks and they do not feel it is important, since they are not used to writing in their own language. They feel it is something they have to do for school and not something they would do in everyday life.”

Close behind with 21% of the vote, the second most popular challenge was: ‘My students keep making the same mistakes’. Jolinda in the Netherlands emphasised how frustrating this can be: “It seems to me that students do not refer to corrected work which makes me feel like my work is more or less superfluous. The students do not learn from their mistakes.”

Lenka in the Czech Republic was also able to relate to this challenge: “I feel that the more meticulously I correct my students´ writing, the more mistakes they make, even if I write examples at the bottom of the paper.”

The final challenge that made it into our top 3 with 14% of the vote was: ‘It’s hard to find enough class time for writing’.  Silvina in Argentina explains: “It’s difficult to dedicate enough time to written activities with only two lessons a week and groups of thirty students. We usually do as much as we can, but I know that the weaker students don’t get enough guidance or scaffolding from me, and sometimes peers are unwilling to help them.”

Hanna in Ukraine faces similar limitations: “The hours given for English classes are minimal, so writing is usually given as a home task, so checking it is rather complicated. I usually use some extra hours at home and use additional tools like Skype, email or blogs to check this writing.”

Join us as we dedicate a month to each of these three challenges. Through a series of webinars and blog posts, Oxford’s top teacher trainers will cover a range of strategies and ideas which you can use in the classroom straight away.

Challenge Webinar (session 1) Webinar (session 2) Teacher trainer
My students keep making the same mistakes 24th Feb 26th Feb Olha Madylus
My students don’t want to write 19th Mar 20th Mar Gareth Davies
It’s hard to find enough class time for writing 21st Apr 23rd Apr TBC

Author: Oxford University Press ELT

The official global blog for Oxford University Press English Language Teaching. Bringing teachers and other ELT professionals top quality resources, tools, hints and tips, news, ideas, insights and discussions to help further their ELT career. Follow Oxford ELT on Twitter. Find Oxford ELT on Google+.

3 thoughts on “Teachers tell us the top writing challenges they face in the classroom

  1. When the common grievances related to unwillingness to write and the shortage of time are overcome, there remains one major task. At some point the students begin writing whether to do the task or to write a summary, review or a composition as an extension of a task in continuous engagement or in presenting the work of a term. But there is the restricting power of language which obliges anyone to mind the standard syntactical structures, the usual collocation of the words, ways of directness and tentativeness, and politeness in speech and, finally, spelling. All these things require skill, yet even skilled foreigners do well when they check their own ability and memory for the exact meaning of a word, for its current and usual combinations, for the correctness of syntactical patterns when a foreigner’s sentences run on or become too long, for the exact spelling of English/American names and titles, of names of organisations, societies and offices and so on. The skill in using a dictionary is required. This skill develops when there is trust in a dictionary and, further, when foreign learners manage to list the pages quickly and read its entries with focus and insight. This takes some time so as to develop the need to pick the dictionary up frequently and to list it quickly and productively. If this is achieved without switching off one’s memory entirely, there is a prospect for learning to write well and sometimes in an interesting way. Thank you.

Leave a Reply