The reasons why teaching writing is crucial in ESL lesson

Why do we need to teach writing?

Why do we need to teach writing?

20.09.2023

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  • Writing
  • IELTS
  • Cambridge English
  • Teaching qualifications
  • Activities
  • Tips & Strategies
  • Methodology

While dictionaries define “writing” as “the act of forming visible letters or characters” or “the act or process of one who writes”, we know that writing is so much more than that and can definitely relate to Morrison’s definition. 

If we assume that writing is so necessary to perform “thinking about things” or, according to another famous writer, “catch the changes of mind on the hop”, do we mean that it is an essential and integral part of our English course curriculum as well? 

If so, why is it such an important activity? In which way does it develop our students’ skills and knowledge? Let’s see today with the help of this article!

“Writing is really a way of thinking – not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet.”

Tony Morrison. Writing for Your Life

Forms of writing

Writing can be different: we may write a short story, or opinion essay, a research paper, or a descriptive piece.

And before discussing the benefits of giving your students writing tasks, we need to understand what forms of writing our students may potentially need or work on. 

So, here are some most common forms of writing: 

Descriptive writing

In descriptive writing, specifics of a person, location, situation, or other topic are captured. 

The purpose of teaching descriptive writing to students is to assist them in describing something to the reader and helping the reader in visualizing the description

Students can apply the skills of writing a descriptive piece to create fiction books, poetry, songs, and even advertising.

Persuasive writing

Students may convey and persuade the reader to take action by using persuasive writing. 

It also involves using language to challenge a certain point of view and perhaps persuade others to accept your position

Practicing writing a persuasive essay is a good chance to present such things as statistical evidence, testimonials, and textual evidence to your students and develop their persuasive abilities.

Fight the common myths about writing

Expository writing

Expository writing teaches the reader something while informing on or explaining a certain topic. 

In this form of writing reader’s questions are addressed through the use of the clearest possible language to ensure the highest level of understanding. It also includes commenting on a certain topic using real data. 

We often see such kinds of texts in various textbooks but assigning your students to write such a piece guarantees an outstanding level of understanding of the material as writing an expository essay requires reading a lot of research and processing information

Narrative writing

Simply recounting a story or describing an event that occurs to a character is called narrative writing. 

Memoirs, creative essays, novels, short tales, presentations, feature pieces, and speeches may all use narrative writing. 

So, explaining the basics of character, plot, conflict, emotion, and main message may contribute to practically anything. 

What do we teach when we teach writing?

Creative writing

The basic goal of creative writing is to write stories that solve some readers’ issues, provide information, and entertain. 

Creative writing is one of the most exciting ways of working with words as by embracing your creativity you also discover your style, the topics that are interesting for you to talk about etc. 

Moreover, creative writing is not only about novels or poetry. It includes product promotion as well. 

Writing skills are…

Writing skills can be defined as a capacity to communicate ideas or details in writing by applying appropriate syntax, sentence structure, and other aspects.

People with good writing skills can share insightful ideas and well-developed opinions

Additionally, it entails activities like coming up with and organizing ideas, editing, and rewriting or proofreading written material.

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Types of writing skills

Writing skills shouldn’t be underestimated as they help to develop some core skills that are absolutely necessary in any field. 

Here are some of them:

SkillDescription
Proper written communication

Key writing abilities include using proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. 

Therefore, it is proved that writers with excellent spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, and knowledge of grammar frequently write and communicate much more successfully. 

Not only are they more successful in supporting their point but also look much more respectable than people who make a lot of mistakes and build unclear sentences. 

By reading other resources, such as articles, and giving your students practical tasks, you may assist them in developing strong grammar, punctuation, and spelling abilities which will definitely be useful for them not only during the English class but also in their further career.

Editing

The same is with editing which is an extremely important skill for many various fields. 

Undoubtedly, one becomes a much better employee if one can spot and correct some mistakes before the final launch of the product. 

Proofreading

In the era of fake news, every specialist has to distinguish fake information from the real one. And this is where writing helps again. 

With regular writing practice, students start developing the idea of credible sources, and learn how to check if the information is real.

In addition, students improve the following skills: 

SkillDescription
Creative thinking

The capacity to see a difficulty and generate solutions to issues is referred to as creative thinking. 

Students who think creatively can examine challenges from several perspectives and come up with a solution.

Reading

Here you may say: “Well, everybody knows how to read!” but everything is not as simple as it seems. 

Reading is a cognitive activity that includes examining a collection of written symbols and interpreting their meanings

Being an attentive and thoughtful reader is an essential skill for today’s world where the majority of people suffer from short attention span and inability to concentrate for a long time. Good readers are also good writers and vice versa – let’s take it as a rule. 

Researching

Good researchers are capable of writing about challenging subjects. By practicing writing, students may learn how to take in a lot of material, evaluate it, understand it, and write about it to improve their research skills. 

Additionally, research abilities enhance reading and communication abilities

Let alone the extremely important skill of working with tons of information, the skill which is impossible to live without in the modern world.

Problem-solving

Banal as it may sound, at some point in life most people have to go through a language exam

Indeed, it is a challenging task both for the teacher because teaching writing requires a lot of special preparation and for students who are going to pass the exam. 

So, the earlier you start your preparation, the better the result would be. 

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Interdisciplinary nature of writing

Well, that’s true that not everybody eventually becomes a writer, so a very common excuse that teachers are used to listening to sounds like this: “I don’t really need writing”, “I don’t think that I will have a chance to practice that, so I don’t feel like completing this task”. 

However, the truth is that writing is not a skill that can be sold. It is a necessary part of daily life.

Not everybody will have a chance or desire to write their own short story or research paper but understanding how to write reports, emails, reviews, records, and even straightforward technical documents like recipes may be very helpful for all students. 

We may go even further and mention such activities as note-taking, journaling, telling stories, debating, and a lot more which are simply impossible to do either without proper writing skills or the skills that are the product of regular writing practice.

Looking for tips to teach writing to adults?

Writing and embracing creativity

Psychologists describe creativity as the capacity to generate novel and practical ideas.

Moreover, in contrast to common belief, creativity may be taught. Three of the various ways we might spark creativity are:

  • combining ideas that appear unconnected
  • solving problems backwards
  • questioning presumptions

Writing on a regular basis is a further approach to developing creativity. Students are encouraged to apply their ideas, find connections, see an issue from several angles, develop solutions, and tell stories when they write.

Moreover, regular writing can help students (especially children) to learn from their experiences and develop a greater sense of self. 

According to research, growing in self-awareness may boost our self-esteem and inspire us to embrace others more. Strong classroom communities depend on students accepting one another’s uniqueness, and confident students often do better in class and in their social interactions. Believe it or not but writing really makes a difference even here.

Writing for students with learning disabilities

The writing ability of kids with learning difficulties can vary greatly, from ADHD students’ lack of organization to students with autism spectrum disorders’ misinterpretation of the tasks.

Such limitations may lead not only to physical inability to write but also to psychological blocks which make students feel unmotivated, indifferent, disappointed, etc. 

However, you don’t necessarily have to give up on writing as numerous researches have proved that writing is an extremely beneficial activity for people with disabilities

The truth is that writing is never about getting a masterpiece every time you take a pen.

It’s about the beneficial influence of the process which specialists claim to be a form of therapy for some medical conditions.

Want to know more about teaching to students with disabilities?

Conclusion

All in all, as we can see, the pros of writing in the classroom are undeniable due to so many reasons that both facilitate the studying process and go beyond it. So, next time you have a lesson, why don’t you ask your students to write a short descriptive essay about their pet or a review on a new “Barbie” movie? You will be surprised that even the greatest non-writers of the group turn out to be thoughtful and creative storytellers.

Proper written communication include:

Writing can serve as a form of therapy.

 Expository writing is used for…

Article authors & editors
  • Arina Kravchenko

    Arina Kravchenko

    Author

    Teacher of General English & IELTS

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