My name is ED – English Dictionary – but most language learners call me “Oh, you again”. But I’m pretty sure that I’m one of your favorite things in life. For a while I’ve wanted to have a talk with you about something shocking I recently came across. It’s all about my casual talk with your students about my presence and role in their language learning. And believe me, that talk came out as a big surprise!
Writing is a process, and Díaz Ramírez (2014) gives the steps as follows: “brainstorming, planning, multiple drafting, peer collaboration, delayed editing, and portfolio assessment” (p.34). However, our students perceive writing differently and often skip a few of these steps. Editing is one of these skipped steps.
Editing is one of the vital skills I teach in my higher education communication courses. Interestingly, however, when I ask my students how often they edit, the answers I hear are as follows: “sometimes” and “almost never”. Also, when I ask what tools students use to edit their work, they often seem to be unsure of an existing tool. This is when I introduce Track Changes in Microsoft and the Suggesting Mode in Google docs.
No matter what benchmark my students have in writing (I teach levels 5-7), almost all of them need to improve three things: run-on sentences/comma splices, punctuation (mostly commas) and the use of transition words.
When you hear a newscaster say, “The
hurricane has WENT from Hawaii to Osaka overnight,” perhaps, like me, you yell,
“That’s GONE from Hawaii, you knucklehead!” Nevertheless, you have understood
that knucklehead perfectly despite the grammatical error. There is no ambiguity in his meaning.
How can college writing classes turn
into an active learning environment?
In my writing classes, I try to provide
my students with various opportunities to read, write, and receive
feedback. One challenge, however, is
when students are asked to write individually; they might not be motivated
enough to work on their own. On the
other hand, when assigning an activity to a group, there is often one student who
seems to be working on the activity while the other students don’t get as
involved as required.
I believe writing is a complicated topic
to teach and asking students to produce written work can be a challenging process.
To address these individual and group challenges, I have come up with a neat
strategy that I would love to share with the rest of the educators dealing with
Last week, I read over my students’ poems and was reminded how much I love my job. As teachers, we need to savour these pleasures and summon them during the more tedious moments. My students, mostly from Asia, are in a year-long EAP foundation program at Ryerson University. I asked them to write a poem based on “Where I Am From,” by George Ella Lyon.
scholastic objective was to get my students to explore their identities, but my
personal objective was to learn more about
their families, their ambitions, their countries…their lives. In class, we went
through the author’s life, stanza by stanza. We examined the details, the
imagery, and the metaphors. Then my students went home and wrote their own
Do you ever teach CLB 5 narrative paragraph writing? Do your students usually write something with pencil on paper that they later discard? Have you ever thought of using Storybird to engage and enhance writing skills or create a class anthology of stories?
Do you use Canadian or American spelling
in your classroom? Do you “correct” your students when they write color instead of colour? Have your students ever asked why you write metre when their dictionaries say meter?
As your students become more fluent in their new language, it’s a good idea to start focusing on more complex forms of writing. Essays are a great way for ESL students to practice researching, organizing information, and clearly representing their ideas. However, writing an essay in a second language can be difficult, so your students are going to need some help. Continue reading →
One of my courses specifies that students create a presentation on an educational resource and present it to their peers. The following is a model I’d like to share with you as a potential means of using a common theme with a final presentation as a way of promoting inquiry, research, collaboration, communication, planning, and writing within one term of instruction. The project comprises eight separate activities. Each activity involves the students practicing language and social skills in a variety of ways. These steps are detailed below in the section, Project Process.Continue reading →