Teacher and teacher trainer, Gareth Davies, explores how we can motivate students to improve their writing skills ahead of his upcoming webinar on Solutions Writing Challenge #2: “My students don’t want to write”.
Is writing the new speaking, do we communicate now more through text messages, Facebook chats and tweets than we do through face-to-face communication? If the answer to this question is yes, then writing should be at the top of the list of 21st Century skills that we are teaching our students. Yet students view writing as a bore, a chore, something to be set as homework so they have time to find an excuse for not doing it. Even if your answer to my question is no, I still think writing has an important part to play in developing students’ language skills. Writing gives students time to put into practice what they have learnt and, if they are confident, to experiment with the language. It also gives English teachers a unique insight into the lives of their students.
So how do we motivate our students to write?
I think as teachers we often throw our students into the deep end with writing tasks. When we ask them to speak they often only have to say one or maybe two sentences that are quickly forgotten but when writing they have to build whole texts that are there in black and white for all to see. So maybe we need to get our students happy in the shallow end and lead them to deeper waters when they are ready. In other words writing can be developed in stages, allowing students to experiment with language and building up their confidence to put longer pieces of text together.
We can do short activities to help them tap into their creativity and help them structure sentences appropriately. We can do collaborative writing tasks to give students a chance to help each other. We can develop interactive writing tasks that allow students to see how writing is communication and has a relevance to their lives and we can study songs or prose to allow students to see how to use words and phrases imaginatively in the classroom. Finally we can make sure that the feedback that students get on their writing tasks focus as much on the content as on the accuracy of the language used.
In my webinar, I will show examples of these kinds of tasks and show how the process of learning writing skills can be fun and help students to enjoy writing.
Register for Gareth’s webinar ‘Solutions Writing Challenge #2: Writing – the new Speaking’ on either Thursday 19th or Friday 20th of March to explore this challenge further.