International Islamic University Malaysia, Gombak, Selangor, Malaysia Email: email@example.com
Sentencevariety is a fundamental aspect in writing to avoid stereotypes, thus making writing more interesting. However, ESL students are often found not using the different sentence structures in writing. Students seem to learn one basic pattern and stick to it. The reason could be due to lack of knowledge and practice to write a variety of sentence structures. They seem to be reluctant to learn more about it, and teachers are reluctant to teach. Despite being fundamental, little emphasis has been put on sentencevariety in the ESLWriting classes because most of the time teachers and students think that as long as there are no grammatical errors, the writing is acceptable. Even with improvement, most of them may not really achieve encouraging results in writing. Hence, this study intended to examine the respondents’ writing performance before and after using a sentencevarietychecklist, and to analyse the respondents’ perceptions towards using the sentencevarietychecklist in their writing. Twenty university students from a pre-sessional English Language programme were selected to take part in this study and data were collected qualitatively from students’ essays and their responses from a 20-item survey questionnaire. The findings revealed a slight improvement in students’ writing. They also found the checklist made writing more interesting and made the students more aware of what they were writing. In conclusion, sentencevarietychecklist can be one of the tools for ESL students to boost students’ writing performance.
When I interviewed a professor for this study, I chose to interview Mai’s English as a Second Language professor in order to get her perspective on ESLwriting support in the classroom. The notes from my interview were at odds with what Mai had told me about the class. The professor told me she always encourages peer revision and drafting in the classroom. The other courses that assigned writing apparently did not provide class time for peer revision and drafting either. One of the assignments was for a Communications class and it had a checklist of things the students were encouraged to do. Some of these suggestions included peer revision but the professor did not make time for peer revision in the classroom. While this was not an ESL class, there were quite a few international students in it. With this in mind, I thought some accommodations may be made for these ESL students, but it did not appear that this was happening. During our last writing conference, Mai provided me with a writing sample from her Music class. This was another example in which peer review and drafting was not made available for the students. I found this to be peculiar because the students had to write reviews of music productions. I doubt many of the students have written reviews of music productions before. I thought a drafting process in which the class finds samples of music reviews and discusses what should be included in them would be more helpful to the students than just writing one and passing it in. I was happy to hear from Mai that her professor understood that she was an ESL student, so she was not too harsh when correcting her grammar. While I liked the variety of writing I saw from Mai, and the central idea of each assignment, they all needed more detail, and the classes needed to provide more writing support.
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In accordance with the problems indicated above, the problems also happened to the researcher as an English lecturer. He faced the same problems in teaching writing in the classroom. His experience as an English lecturer of the third-semester students of English Education Department of STIT Maskumambang Gresik shows that the students' writing skill in English is still low. Their writings had many mistakes in terms of content, organization and grammar. It is supported by the preliminary study conducted on the 5 th and 12 th of December 2009. The percentage of the students’ score obtained from the fifteen students’ writing tasks was that 6.67% (1 student) got score A, 13.33% (2 students) got score B, 20.00% (3 students) got score C, and 60.00% (9 students) got score D. These results are considered to be insufficient since majority of the students were unsuccessful in this course. Only 40% (6 students of the class) achieved the score greater than or equal to C (56-70). It did not yet achieve the target of the study
This section will explore ESL composition knowledge and experience in teaching second language composition with connection to reading and how they can bring together reading and writing to the classrooms. Freeman (1990) believes that the classroom constructions that teachers choose evolve from their individual teaching experiences and beliefs. Freeman (1990), furthermore, argues that teachers structure their classrooms the same way they were taught. More specifically, According to Corbett (1990), a number of college composition teachers who lack professional graduate training are likely to recreate the same models of some teachers who taught them. Therefore, Robinson (1991) blames a group of recently hired teachers staffing composition classroom for not only being untrained in composition but who “ never exhibit the slightest knowledge of the books or articles that are shaping our field nor the slightest embarrassment about their ignorance.” (as cited in Kroll, 11993)
I have implemented a few activities in my language class where 30 students participated. After a two weeks session I have noticed a massive change in their responses towards learning language through Macbeth than learning language through other approaches. Many of the students have come requesting me to conduct the whole course using literature. They become more confident in all skills of language (writing, reading, speaking and listening). They feel their own power as learners as they start changing words in the speech. The other key is to reduce students’ anxiety and resistance to reading a text that is not in modern English. As they rewrite the soliloquy, they start to identify many words that they already understand and to realize that reading is not going to be a solitary activity done with a dictionary: they and their group partners read and write about it together. Some more activities they can do are to send letters to characters including their opinions, invent new dialogues and create simplified scripts for enacting a scene from the play. No less than British playwright Tom Stoppard has essentially done this exercise and successfully expanded it into a whole play- e.g., Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. These activities work best when students write in pairs or in small groups. It can be implemented in any class room setting. The teacher only needs to be conscious that the students are comfortable in working in groups or pairs and they are not copying lines from the texts or note books that are available in the market.
this confirmed the reviews, several aspects of Editor were considered problematic: it was standalone–a piece of work needed to be submitted to the application separately to the doc- ument-development process; and, more importantly, the report produced by the application was not visually appealing, looking, in fact like a piece of computer coding (see Figure 3). This latter point became a determining factor for the choice of Writer’s Workbench (WWB)- although the initial students exposed to the package were expected to be IT students, ease of understanding the output across all student types and disciplines was a consideration. In- tegration with Microsoft Word (so access to WWB was by means of an additional toolbar in Word) was also seen as a mechanism for reducing perception of intrusion. The ability to evaluate a piece of writing during the authoring process (as described for the semi-automated system) is then enhanced.
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What are the potential pedagogical implications? If reconceptualising text and increased use of metadiscourse are strongly intertwined, encouraging either one or the other in the process of teaching EFL /ESLwriting will lead to beneficial results. Encouraging conscious attention to metadiscourse (while this may not lead to text improvement in terms of surface features) will likely involve revisions to the content and organization of text at all levels. This finding supports the positive results of studies of explicit metadiscourse instruction using a process approach to writing (Khoshkholgh & Akef, 2014, Cheng & Steffensen, 2014). Our study, however, also implies that writing teachers can encourage increased use of metadiscourse (usually leading to increased text quality) by encouraging in-depth revising. Of course, combining both, as suggested by Tavakoli, Bahrami & Amirian, 2012 (the only available comparable study to date), would probably yield best results. Examples such as provided in our study could be used to illustrate to students both different levels of revising and the role of metadiscourse in written text.
There are a large number of post-edit systems for English spelling and grammar checking. ESL assistant, proposed by (Leacock et al., 2009) Web-based English writing assistance tool focused on errors which ESL learners are likely to make. It also shows parallel Web search results of the original and suggested expressions to provide the user with real-world examples. Criterion, devel- oped by (Burstein et al., 2004) is another Web-based learning tool which uses an automatic scoring engine to rate the input learner’s composition. It also shows detailed stylistic and grammatical feed- back to the learner for educational purposes. Other than these, one can also find many other free or commercial English writing assistance systems including Grammarly 1 , WhiteSmoke 2 , and Ginger 3
The results section consists of three moves namely Restating Methodology (R1), Announcing results (R2) and Commenting on them (R3) as shown in Table 5. Move R1 Step 1 for Listing procedures was only found in one report while none was found for Step 2, Justifying methodology. This may be mainly because the ESL writers were trying to avoid overlaps between Method and Result sections. In Move R2, Step 2 involving pointing to results with phrases such as „the table shows‟, surprisingly very few of the reports were found to implement this step which contrasts the high frequency found in Parkinson‟s work on the native English corpus. Step 2, Displaying result, however, was found to be prominent in that it existed in all reports. It can be seen as the main way of announcing results with figures and tables assumed as being self-explanatory. The lack of Step 1 and the prominence of Step 2 may relate to the writer-audience relationship in that writers often assume the results are well-understood by the instructors. In Step 3, Reporting results, unlike in Parkinson‟s finding of this being frequent, this step seems to be almost negligible in all reports except those in which a standard question-answer template was provided by instructors or modules. This is mainly because there are often overlaps between the results and discussion section. In contrast, Step 4, Calculating results/ stating Chemical equation was found in about half the reports owing to the nature of many of the courses requiring calculations. Move R3 with Steps 1 and 2 for explaining and commenting on results respectively were absent except for reports from the electrical engineering course. This finding was hardly surprising considering that a majority of the ESL students‟ writings suggest a self-explanatory approach to reporting results through the use of figures or tables, with many of the steps in the results section identified in the discussion section instead.
The students will learn to write paragraphs in English through the writing process, prewriting, drafting, proofreading, editing, and redrafting. Students will learn to write coherent, well organized paragraphs with a minimum of grammatical errors and incorrect vocabulary usage. Review of grammar, instruction in mechanics and usage, and focus on correct spelling will be emphasized.
The given data further provide justifications that writing quality, measured through readability and easability as indices, may not be strongly influenced by writer’s block as a cognitive phenomenon. There could be other factors or governing variables that interplay with the quality of written outputs produced by the learners in the second language context. For instance, extensive exposure to the English language itself and the writers’ more years of exposure to literacy skills such as reading and writing, makes them achieve enhanced writing performance (Nik, Hamzah, & Rafidee, 2010). In the EFL context, Kobayashi and Rinnert (2001) concluded in their study that both English proficiency and writing experience were significantly related to the essay revision performance of university students. While there are no ample studies that would suffice the inquiry presented in the current investigation about the possible relationship between writer’s block and writing quality; still, literature in writing instruction would argue that attitudes play a crucial role in building learners’ motivation and performance towards this productive language skill (Wolcott & Buhr, 1987). Since attitudes are one subscale of
Mastering the conventions of academic writing would seem to require both reflection and action, both knowledge and practice. Without feedback from an instructor, there is a question of whether the practice component would be worthwhile for self-directed learners (Myles, 2002). I make no great claims that the ESL-WOW can take the place of a qualified instructor and a community of reflective learners; however, I am prepared to assert that this tool makes a real contribution to the world of online writing instruction. The course focuses on grammar and rhetorical conventions (such as topic sentences, thesis statements, and employing evidence) with the understanding that students approach academic writing from different perspectives.
Numerous factors that affect students’ writing skills have been identified in literature. These are associated with the motivation of learners who are generally unclear about the purpose and significance of their text in their L2 learning. Similarly, social media, in- consistent feedback from teachers, learners’ lack of analytical and evaluative approach, and large and unmanageable class sizes also negatively impact the structural and com- municative accuracy of the students’ texts (Pineteh, 2013). Most of the students find it very challenging to obtain sufficient and relevant source information, paraphrase or sum- marise information, and use an appropriate academic writing style (Gonye, Mareva, Dudu, & Sib, 2012; Kalikokha, 2008). It is caused by delayed essay writing instruction, large classes, students’ negative attitude towards their academic English course, L1 transfer, and lack of dialogue between students and teachers about the constructive steps that need to be taken to address these problems. In Pakistan, insufficient time for teaching writing, improper A/V aids, overcrowded classrooms, traditional pedagogy and students’ weak aca- demic backgrounds have been reported to be some of the factors affecting students’ writing skills (Bilal et al., 2013; Butt & Rasul, 2012). Similarly, outdated textbooks that neither promote the importance of a writing skill, nor give any opportunities, too consequently fail to invoke an audience (Haider, 2012). Another body of research critiques incompe- tent teachers who instead of promoting creative skills urge students for rote learning and exam-oriented language production (Mansoor, 2005; Rahman, 2002; Siddiqui, 2007).
Otagburuagu (2007) notes that the nature and complexity of writing have often been of concern to writers. Watson cited in Otagburuagu (2007) posits that writing is hard and so does not involve a single process. The writing competence of university graduates has provoked a lot of criticisms from employers of labour, teachers, examiners and the Nigerian public. Two areas of poor performance of Nigerian graduates are identified as: poor mastery of the English language and lack of writing skill. This has been a source of worry and concern to parents, employers and the government. This is because it would be impossible for any student to excel in academic pursuit in Nigeria without the mastery of the English language, which is the medium of instruction, as well as communication between students and teachers. 2003 – 2014 Chief Examiners’ Report published by West African Examinations Council (WAEC) show the extremity of the poor performance of students in the English Language. Reports of Chief Examiners show that majority of the weaknesses had to do with little or no exposure to proper writing skills. The examiners identified the areas of poor performance as mostly poor organization of ideas, construction of loose sentences, translation from mother tongue and abuse of basic rules of grammar. This manifests in the lack of cohesion, especially in their essay writing.
However despite the numerous studies carried out on writing strategies, there are a few gaps that this paper intended to fill. Firstly, the researcher observed that most of the studies on ESL/EFL learners were conducted on Chinese or Japanese learners either mostly in Western educational context or some fewer ones in Chinese context (Guangwei & Chen, 2006). Therefore similar to Guangwei & Chen’s study on Chinese L2 learners in a Chinese context, the researcher intends to contribute further in filling in the vacuum by investigating ESL Malay learners in a Malay context. Hence the study conducted on local students in a higher learning institute in Malaysia. This intention is to further support Guangwei & Chen cited in Hedgcock (2005) that ‘the cultures and social contexts in which various literacies emerge inevitably influence [their] developmental processes’. Secondly, in most studies of L2 learners, cognitive strategies seemed to be the dominant focus in their studies especially in coding, describing and comparing writing strategies used between skilled and unskilled learners although studies on writing strategies takes into fair weightage on metacognitive strategies and social/affective strategies (Wenden, 1991; Riazi, 1997; Carter,Lillis, & Parkin, 2009; Ortmeier-Hooper, & Schwartz, 2010). This is aligned with Congjun’s (2005) and Ortmeier- Hooper, & Schwartz (2010) conclusion about ESLwriting that the writing process is a very complex development influenced by many factors such as culture, politics, education, economy, social environment, community and language. Thus, the study takes into account of the writers’ cognitive, metacognitive and social strategies. In doing so, it is in the interest of the study to identify writing strategies used by the learners and the similarities or differences in the strategies used between skilled learners and unskilled learners of ESL. More specifically, the study investigates the following questions:
among L2 students.
Challenges for Peer Review
Research suggests a number of barriers to effective peer review among L2 students. A major issue is that L2 students may focus heavily on local issues and neglect global issues in writing and revision (Nelson & Carson, 1998; Tsui & Ng, 2000). In their study of peer review among 169 students, McGroarty and Zhu (1997) identified three types of peer feedback: global feedback that emphasizes idea development, audience, purpose, and organization; local feedback that stresses vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation; and evaluative feedback that expresses overall evaluation. Studies have shown that many L2 student writers tend to focus on local issues due to their primary concern for the use of a L2 or their lack of experience in providing effective feedback (e.g., Tsui & Ng, 2000). Moreover, student comments may be vague, unhelpful, or inaccurate (Nilson, 2003), because they might not have enough experience as a reviewer or because they might have difficulties articulating problems and suggestions (Kim, 2015; Leki, 1990; Mendonca & Johnson, 1994). These language problems may contribute to the students’ lack of confidence in the validity, reliability, and usefulness of their feedback to their peers and the feedback they receive from peers (Sengupta, 1998; Tang & Tithecott, 1999; Tsui & Ng, 2000; Wang, 2014). Furthermore, due to cultural differences and possibly a lack of L2 rhetorical schemata, many L2 students may have inconsistent or inaccurate expectations about the content and structure of peers’ texts and provide “counterproductive feedback” (Ferris & Hedgcock, 2005, p. 227).
Peer revision is a crucial aspect of process writing. Peer revision has gained widespread acceptance in modern advanced writing classrooms as learning and assessment tool and is increasingly being experimented for its use as an interactive peer learning and assessment tool in online writing classes and technology-enhanced environments (Keppell et al 2006; Knight & Steinbach 2011). Peer revision is a process whereby learners evaluate one another’s work for better quality writing. Learners generally view it as a non-threatening activity as both reviewers and writers benefit from the feedback that their peers provide (Wood & Kurzel 2008). Wessa & De Rycker (2010) echo the same mutual benefits gained from encouraging learners to review each other’s work. The writer whose work is being reviewed benefits from the analysis and synthesis that the reviewer shares with him while the reviewer who provides the nurturing gains new experiences whilst sharpening his critical thinking ability and language skills during the revision process. The theoretical basis for the use of peer revision for the development of writing skills is rooted in Vygotskyan Social Constructivism which sees learning not as an individual activity but a collaborative effort mediated by social interaction (Lu & Bol 2007). In the Vygotskyan social interaction framework, culture, peers and adults play important roles in influencing learners’ development. This influence, expressed as the Zone of Proximal Development, refers to the difference in a learner's performance when he attempts a problem on his own compared
In the following example, the topic of the first sentence and the whole paragraph is “cloning”. It is unproblematic when this topic is chosen as the theme of the sentence to begin the paragraph. However, the topic of the second sentence is ‘those sick people’, which, although inferable from the context, is nevertheless never mentioned in the preceding sentence. According to the principles of thematic progression (Danes, 1974, cited in Mauranen, 1996: 204-205) the theme of a succeeding sentence should either be a repetition of the previous theme, which is “cloning”, or should be related to the rheme of the previous sentence, which in this case is “the understanding of the new technology”. The topical theme of the second sentence, however, is “those sick people and ‘they’”, thus making a jump in thematic development. Obviously sensing the gap, the writer uses a transitional marker ‘Besides’ as a textual theme to bridge over to the topic ‘those sick people’. Unfortunately, ‘besides’ is a transitional marker normally used for the continuation of an argument, giving additional but unrelated support to the claim (Yeung, 2009). The ensuing proposition of incurable sick people having hope for a cure through cloning is clearly just a continuation of the same argument in the immediately preceding text and so the use of ‘besides’ does not help at all in pushing the argument forward. Instead, the rhetorical connective acts a distracter, setting the reader to look for another kind of argument which is not forthcoming in the text. In keeping with the typical L1 Chinese thematic structure expostulated above (e.g. Ren, 1994), the second sentence falls into a ‘topic-comment’ structure. Similarly, ‘People’ in the last sentence, marked off by a comma, falls into the same ‘topic-comment’ structure as well.