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APPROACHES TO THE TEACHING OF WRITING IN EFL & ESL

LG488
courses.essex.ac.uk/.../ ...

APPROACHES TO TEACHING EFL/ESL


WRITING

The Product Approach

The Process Approach

The Genre/ Social Approach


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^ Todays lecture ^

THE PRODUCT APPROACH

The Product Approach dominated the teaching of writing in ELT until the 1980s It involves using model sentences or texts which the students copy Normally each model text contains lots of examples of a specific type of language the teacher wants the students to focus on, e.g. cohesive devices (e.g. however, therefore, nevertheless, etc.), the past simple The students read the model sentence or text, and do exercises which focus on the language in the model text (e.g. the past simple) Finally, the students might be asked to transform a text which is in the present simple into the past simple. The model text will help them do this
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THE PRODUCT APPROACH (2)

The focus is obviously on grammatical accuracy. This reflects the preoccupation of ELT methodology at the timethe Audiolingual Method was in fashion

Lets look at an example of the Product Approach

THE PRODUCT APPROACH:


AN EXAMPLE
Look at the handout of a Product Approach lesson and answer the following: What kinds of things does a Product Approach emphasize? (e.g. grammatical accuracy) As a teacher, would you be comfortable with using this lesson plan? Why (not)? If you were asked to teach this lesson, how would you adapt the plan I gave you? Why? Would your learners be comfortable? Why (not)? What do you think they would particularly like/dislike about this lesson?
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ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST THE PRODUCT APPROACH

What, in your view, are the strengths and weaknesses of the Product Approach? Do you/Would you consider using the Product Approach to teach writing? If youre a practising teacher, do you think students in your context would like learning how to write via the Product Approach? Why (not)?
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ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF THE PRODUCT APPROACH

Model texts give students confidence and security, something they can use as the basis for their own writing The approach (appears) to get results: using model texts for students to copy should guarantee students produce work with fewer grammatical mistakes very quickly Highly specific & focused writing practice: a good way of getting the students to focus on using a specific piece of grammar in their own writing (Contrast the Write about what you did last weekend approach, where theres no guarantee that students will focus on the piece of grammar you want them to)

ARGUMENTS AGAINST USING THE PRODUCT APPROACH

Lack of creativity and personalization? (The student has little say in what they write and how they write it) Repetitive? Unrealistic? (students are obviously not writing for a purpose, but writing to practice a grammar point) Boring & demotivating?

Too prescriptive? (The model-based approach can be seen as transmitting the message to the student that there is only 1 way to write correctly. In reality, of course, there are many different ways of writing well)

ARGUMENTS AGAINST USING THE PRODUCT APPROACH (2)

Particularly with writing exercises that focus on sentences rather than on texts, which involve, say, getting learners to use cohesive devices to join up 2 sentences, there is the danger, as Ivani (2004: 227) says, that students will believe that writing is a unitary, context-free activity, in which the same patterns and rules apply to all writing, independent of text type. In other words, there is a danger that students will believe that words like therefore and nevertheless are appropriate in even the most informal types of writing, when the fact is that different types of writing use different types of language
So Ivani (2004) criticizes the product approach for being concerned only with correctness of spelling, grammar, etc, and ignoring context
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ARGUMENTS AGAINST USING THE PRODUCT APPROACH (3)

One of the main criticisms of the approach is that it doesnt give students practice writing because it does not reflect what real writers do in real situations

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THE PROCESS APPROACH

The Process Approach aimed to reflect what real writers did in real situations (unlike the Product Approach we have just discussed)

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THE PROCESS APPROACH


The Process Approach overtook the Product Approach as the dominant writing methodology in the 1980s in Britain & North America Books like Tricia Hedges Writing (1988) and Ron White & Valerie Arndts Process Writing (1991) helped ensure the Process methodology became well known amongst language teachers The approach began to be critiqued in the 1990s and this criticism continues today However, the Process methodology continues to be popular

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PROCESS APPROACH RESEARCHERS: 2 MAIN SCHOOLS

2 types of researcher favour the Process Approach: expressivists and cognitivists (Faigley, 1986) The expressivists (e.g. Elbow 1973, 1981; Macrorie 1984; Murray 1985) argued that writing was creative and personal. They wanted to get students to write about what was important to them. Fluency rather than grammatical accuracy was the important thing
However, many of the expressivists were more concerned with teaching writing to L1 rather than L2 speakers (i.e. teaching native speakers of American English how to write assignments for their courses at American universities)

The cognitivists had more of an influence on process writing for non-native speakers
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THE COGNITIVISTS & THE PROCESS APPROACH


The cognitivists (e.g. Flower & Hayes 1981a; Hairston 1982; Zamel 1983) tried to find out how real writers composed in real situations The Product Approach had given students the impression that the composing process was linear. Students planned first, then wrote like this:

planning

writing

However, the cognitivists found out that real writers didnt write like this at all
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WHAT DO REAL WRITERS DO?


[Writing] is messy, recursive, convoluted, and uneven. Writers write, plan, revise, anticipate, and review throughout the writing process, moving back and forth among the different operations involved in writing without any apparent plan. (Hairston 1982: 85)

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WHAT DO REAL WRITERS DO? (2)

Two of the best-known researchers who were among the first to research how writers actually wrote were Flower & Hayes (e.g. 1981a). They got writers to verbalize their thoughts while they were writing/thinking (composing) and recorded these. These transcripts shed light on the writing process

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WHAT DO REAL WRITERS DO? (3)


Good writers organize, plan, and re-write throughout the writing process, changing things lots of times if necessary, and writing multiple drafts Good writers may rehearse or discuss what they want to write before they actually do it Good writers read their writing carefully, trying to imagine how clear their ideas are to a reader. If something isnt clear, they change it The motto of the Process Approach is: Writing is rewriting

You can read more about the Product and Process Approaches in The sample approach (Harwood, 2000/2002) http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~nharwood/Sample%20A pproach.PDF

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THE COMPONENTS OF THE PROCESS APPROACH

Susser (1994) argues that process writing pedagogy has 2 components:

awareness intervention

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AWARENESS
students

should become aware that writing is by nature a process, so that even simple messagesare the result of a writing process that includes choosing vocabulary, considering audience, and judging format. (Susser 1994: 35)

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INTERVENTION

Flower & Hayes (1981b) urge teachers to intervene at points in the writing process that could do writers the most goodas they are actually engaged in the act of writing. Thus, teachers could help writers to write, not just learn to repair the damage. (p.55)

So teachers help students before and while writing, not just afterwards (when they mark it)
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TEACHING WITH A PROCESS APPROACH

Ferris & Hedgcock (1998) summarize a typical Process Approach writing lesson:
Hallmarks of the cognitivist approach to process writing pedagogy include invention and prewriting tasks, drafting multiple versions of writing assignments, abundant text-level (as opposed to sentence-level) revision, collaborative writing, feedback sessions, and the postponement of editing until the end of a composing cycle. Thus, cognitivist rhetoricians focus principally on developing writers mental processes, particularly strategies used to create and revise text on their own (p.4)

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THE PROCESS APPROACH:


AN EXAMPLE
Look at the handout of a Process Approach lesson (which would stretch over several classes) and answer the following: What kinds of things does a Process Approach emphasize which a Product Approach may not? (e.g. a Process Approach emphasizes collaboration) As a teacher, would you be comfortable with using this lesson plan? Why (not)? If you were asked to teach this lesson, how would you adapt the plan I gave you? Why? Would your learners be comfortable? Why (not)? What do you think they would particularly like/dislike about this lesson?
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ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST THE PROCESS APPROACH

What, in your view, are the strengths and weaknesses of the Process Approach? Do you/Would you consider using the Process Approach to teach writing? If youre a practising teacher, do you think students in your context would like learning how to write via the Process Approach? Why (not)?
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ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF THE PROCESS APPROACH


The emphasis on multiple drafting helps even the weakest students write more confidently, knowing that their 1st drafts wont be assessed The Process Approach means that writing does not have to be a solitary, silent activity. Students can interact and plan their writing together The Process Approach is therefore more suitable than the Product Approach for those students with extroverted learning styles, those who like to learn by collaborating with others (see Oxford 2001)

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ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF THE PROCESS APPROACH (2)

The fact that teachers can focus on prewriting, while-writing and post-drafting/editing activities means that the teaching of writing becomes more varied. Theres far more scope for far more types of activities, which should lead to greater motivation and interest

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ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE PROCESS APPROACH

Process Approach pedagogy at its most extreme perhaps pays less attention to grammatical accuracy than it should Process Approach pedagogy at its most extreme perhaps pays less attention to showing students what good writing looks like than it shouldthe emphasis is on writing as a continuing process rather than as a finished product

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ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE PROCESS APPROACH (2)


The highly collaborative emphasis of the Process Approach (e.g. getting students to critique their colleagues work) may not work as well with students from non-western cultures (cf. Atkinson 2003; Casanave 2003) Although the Process Approach may teach students what good writers do, perhaps the approach is less suited to exam writing, where students are working under time constraints, and only have a limited amount of choice regarding what they write about

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ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE PROCESS APPROACH (3)

The Process Approach may not mirror the kind of teaching that goes on in non-western contexts. Casanaves (2003) description of the Japanese context is a good example: Most of the Japanese teachers of high school English that I work with are still required to teach grammar and translation. If students and teachers have time, they go through multiple iterations of some kinds of writing, particularly at the university level, but often they do not. In both L1 and L2, many Japanese students do not revise, do not peer-read, do not get substantive feedback, and may not see their written work againonce it has been turned in. (p.86)

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ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE PROCESS APPROACH (4)

In other words, we could argue that however sound the Process Approach is, if teacher trainees are not allowed to use Process pedagogy in their classrooms, it may not be very practical:

process-oriented research and instruction in composition studies may have been talked about more than practiced. This has certainly been the case outside the communities of Western scholarship in L1 and L2 writing such as Japan. (Casanave 2003: 98)
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ADAPTING THE PROCESS APPROACH


TO FIT IN WITH LOCAL TEACHING CONDITIONS (1)
However,

Tsuis (1996) account of how a Hong Kong ESL teacher started to use the Process Approach in her classroom suggests the approach can be adapted so that it works in contexts where the Product Approach is normally used
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ADAPTING THE PROCESS APPROACH


TO FIT IN WITH LOCAL TEACHING CONDITIONS (2)
Tsui

(1996) talks about how Julie, the Hong Kong teacher, faced two problems when she changed to the Process Approach: (1) it took much longer to complete a writing task using the process approach; and (2) her students were making far more grammatical mistakes than before (pp.11011)
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ADAPTING THE PROCESS APPROACH


TO FIT IN WITH LOCAL TEACHING CONDITIONS (3)
So

Julie made changes, retain[ing] the essential elements of process writing but [reducing] the amount of time needed to complete one writing task (p.112), by reducing the number of drafts students were asked to do
also reintroduced some Product Approach tasks, ensuring students continued to focus on grammatical accuracy more some of the time So in the end, she taught writing by using BOTH Product and Process approaches

She

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YOUR OWN WRITING PEDAGOGY

Which of the 2 writing pedagogies which weve looked at todayProduct and Processis closest to the way you teach writing? Why? Were there any ideas about teaching writing weve looked at today that are new to you? If so, are there any youd consider using in class? Were there any ideas you strongly disagree with? If so, why do you feel so strongly? Do you think its possible to combine ideas from the 2 approaches, to produce a product-process pedagogy? If so, how would you do it?

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WRITING PEDAGOGY NOW


Although the Process Approach is more recent than the Product Approach, many teachers/textbook writers combine elements of Product and Process to teach writing (e.g. getting students to brainstorm ideas = Process; giving students model texts to help them with their writing = Product) Some researchers are currently talking about a post-process era (e.g. Atkinson 2003). Many researchers these days favour a Genre or Social approach to teaching writing (e.g. Hyland 2003), which well talk about next week

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REFERENCES
Atkinson D (2003) L2 writing in the post-process era: introduction. Journal of Second Language Writing 12: 3-15. Casanave CP (2003) Looking ahead to more sociopolitically-oriented case study research in L2 writing scholarship (But should it be called post-process?). Journal of Second Language Writing 12: 85-102. Elbow P (1973) Writing Without Teachers. New York: Oxford University Press. Elbow P (1981) Writing with Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process. New York: Oxford University Press. Faigley L (1986) Competing theories of process: a critique and a proposal. College English 48: 527-42. Ferris D (2003) Responding to writing. In B Kroll (ed.), Exploring the Dynamics of Second Language Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.119-140. Ferris D & Hedgcock JS (1998) Teaching ESL Composition: Purpose, Process, and Practice. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum. Flower L & Hayes JR (1981a) A cognitive process theory of writing. College Composition & Communication 32: 365-387. Flower L & Hayes JR (1981b) Plans that guide the composing process. In C.H. Frederiksen & J.F. Dominic (eds.), Writing: The Nature, Development, and Teaching of Written Communication Vol 2. Writing: Process, Development and Communication. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp.39-58. Hairston M (1982) The winds of change: Thomas Kuhn and the revolution in the teaching of writing. College Composition and Communication 33(1): 76-88.
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REFERENCES (2)
Harwood N (2000/2002) The sample approach: teaching writing with Cambridge examination classes. Available at http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~nharwood Hedge T (1988) Writing. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hyland K (2003) Genre-based pedagogies: a social response to process. Journal of Second Language Writing 12: 17-29. Ivani R (2004) Discourses of writing and learning to write. Language & Education 18(3): 220-245. Macrorie K (1984) Writing to be Read (3rd ed.). Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook Heinemann. Murray DM (1985) A Writer Teaches Writing (2nd ed.) Boston: Houghton Miffin. Oxford RL (2001) Language learning strategies. In R Carter & D Nunan (eds.), The Cambridge Guide to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.166-172. Susser, B. (1994) Process approaches in ESL/EFL writing instruction. Journal of Second Language Writing 3(1): 31-47. Tsui, A.B.M. (1996) Learning how to teach ESL writing. In D. Freeman & J.C. Richards (eds.), Teacher Learning in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.97-119. White RV & Arndt V (1991) Process Writing. Harlow: Longman. Zamel V (1983) The composing processes of advanced ESL students: six case studies. TESOL Quarterly 17: 165-187.
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THIS WEEKS READING


Ivani, R. (2004) Discourses of writing and learning to write. Language & Education 18(3): 220-245. [XD Collection: XD8663] Raimes, A. (1991) Out of the woods: emerging traditions in the teaching of writing. TESOL Quarterly 25(3): 407-430. Tsui, A.B.M. (1996) Learning how to teach ESL writing. In D. Freeman & J.C. Richards (eds.), Teacher Learning in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.97119. [Short Loan]
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