TEACHING WRITING TO CHILDREN
- Definition of writing
Writing is a creative process of expressing ideas in the form of written language for the purpose, for example, inform, persuade, or entertain using written language as a media communication. But writing is not easy because writing has certain characteristics which seem to make it difficult for pupils to get to grips with, especially for younger learner. Besides, writing is a good thing because it lets pupils express their personalities. Writing activities help to consolidate learning in the other skill areas. Balanced activities train the language and help aid memory.
- The purpose of writing
The purpose of writing is to enable students in writing English simply by meaningful words and sentences. Cause of that, there are some important points you should consider in learning activities such as: spelling, punctuation marks, choice of words, conjunctive, sentence structure and topic sentence.
2.1 Controlled writing activities
In general, controll activities are being done to practice the language and concentration is on the language itself. Besides, the teacher still controls their pupils’ activities. Controlled activities consist of 6 activities the following are:
- a. Straight copying
Copying is a fairly obvious starting point for writing. It is an activity which gives the teacher the chance to reinforce language that has been presented orally or through reading. It is a good idea to ask pupils to read aloud quietly to themselves when they are copying the words because this helps them to see the connection between the written and the spoken word. For children who find even straight copying difficult, you can start them off by tracing words.
- b. Matching
Matching is activity by asking pupils to match pictures and texts, or to choose which sentence they want to write about the text. For example, pupils might choose from the three possibilities about this picture:
Write one sentence:
- She likes cooking
- She is a good cook
- She is making a noodle.
- c. Organizing and copying
Organizing and copying are activity how to organize a sentence and copy it into a correct sentence. For example, ask the pupils to complete Kete’s letter.
- d. Delayed copying
Delayed copying is activities to know the ability of pupils in memorizing familiar sentences. You can do delayed copying, which is fun to do in class, for training short term visual memory. Write a short, familiar sentence on the board; give the pupils a few seconds to look at it. And then rub it out and see if the pupils can write it down. Please note that this type of activity should not be used as a test.
- e. Copying book
It is useful for pupils to have a copying book where they can copy new vocabulary, a little dialogue, something you want them to remember or whatever. Most pupils will keep to what you ask them to copy, but they should be free to copy things from the textbook, the notice board and from other pupils. Some pupils will copy whole stories. If they have the time to do it, let them.
- f. Dictation
Dictation is a very safe of exercise if you can keep the language elementary and simple, and because you, the teacher, are providing the actual language as well as the context. For young learners, dictations should:
- Be short
- Be made up of sentences which can be said in one breath
- Have a purpose, and be connected to work which has gone before or comes after
- Be read or said at normal speed.
For example: “Maria has a baker’s hat. She’s going to bring it to class tomorrow. We’re going to have a baker’s shop”.
2.2 Guided written activities
In guided written activities, the teachers as a guide who give direction to the pupils without speaking and explaining not too much. Therefore, teacher only give the examples or show something real that relate to the materials. So, pupils should be more active than teacher. There are 3 activities in guided written, the following are:
- a. Fill-in exercises
Fill-in exercises are useful activities that can be used to focus on specific language items, like prepositions or question forms. Try to avoid exercises which have no meaning at all-exercise which give you sentences.
- b. Dictation
You might like to try dictating only half a sentence, and asking pupils to complete it in their own way. For example:
- c. Letters/cards/invitations
Letter writing seems to be a popular language class activity, and it is indeed a useful way of getting pupils to write short meaningful pieces of writing. Ideally, letters are written to be sent, but you can have pupils writing to each other and sending their letters via the classroom postman.
2.3 Free writing activities
- In free activities the language is the pupils own language, no matter what their level is. The teacher should be the initiator and helper, and of course is responsible for seeing that the task can be done by the pupils at that level.
- The teacher should try to look at the work being done, perhaps at the rough copy stage, correct mistakes and suggest possible ideas, words, etc.
- The teacher should give as much help as possible to the pupils both before the actual writing task begins and while the writing is going on.
- The teacher and the pupil can see how much progress is being made if everything a pupil has written is in one place.
There are 5 activities in free writing, the following are:
- a. Pre-writing activities
Pre-writing activities are designed to give them language, ideas and encouragement before they settle down to the writing itself.
- Taking about the subject
A short simple conversation about the subject can be enough to get ideas going and collect thoughts. With the five to seven year olds, you might start them off by simply asking a question:
“What did you do last night?’ and writing some of the answers on the board: “watched TV, played football, had supper, etc.
- Word stars
First, put the key word on the blackboard. You are going to write about pets, so you decide to use dog as your key word. Put the class into groups and ask them to write down all the words they can think about connected with dogs. When all the groups have made their word starts, you can do one on the blackboard for everyone. This gives the whole class not only words, but also the ideas about what to write. For example:
- Vocabulary charts
In vocabulary charts, the teachers make or give simple drawings or pictures with vocabulary collections. The aim is to give the pupils as many words ideas as possible before they start on the actual writing tasks.
- Topic vocabulary
Vocabulary can also be built up by collecting related words. You can use picture dictionaries as much as you can, but have your own dictionary too, you won’t always know the words either. Pupils do not have to remember all these words you are only collecting words to help them write their story.
- b. Dialogues
The dialogues the children write function as basic communication at all levels if they are spoken before they are written and used as reading texts after they have been written. The dialogues can be guided, following a very strict and to the point, or they can be long and complicated.
- Speech bubbles can be very useful for both
In speech bubbles the teachers can use simple dialogues for the pupils.
- The following dialogues is the result of pair work based on a model dialogue, but is clear from the type of language used that a lot of work has been done on spoken dialogues before this.
- The dialogue below was also the result of pair work, but this time working on a given situation.
- c. Descriptions
A description is a statement that describes someone or something or the process of describing. There are 2 types in descriptions, the following are:
A collage is usually a large piece of paper of a board which is made into a poster or a picture by sticking on illustrations, texts and other materials.
- Picture descriptions
When you first prepare a piece of written work orally, then you must expect the language to reflect this. The descriptions of an untidy room on the following page was written by two older pupils in their third year of learning English, and we can see the effect of oral work in the question at the end of the description.
- d. Letters
Letters is to imaginary people are not nearly as interesting or as much fun as letters to real pen-friends. Ideally, letters are written to someone. They can also be written to the teacher, and these letters should be answered without any comments on the language. Some teachers like to have this type of correspondence with their pupils regularly, just to see how they are getting on. But for pupils who are beyond the beginner level, this teacher pupil correspondence, which is private, may take the form of dairy instead of a series of letters.
- e. Story
A story is an activity to write about something and the words to express what they want to say or a narrative description of past events. Writing group stories is a good idea since the actual writing can be shared, and re-writing is not such a burden. Make sure that pupils do lots of pre-writing.