English Language Teaching Workshop at British Library As part of the British Library Organisational Membership, British Library organised ELT workshops for
teachers and IELTS Trainers on Sunday, 16 March 2008 at British Library. The title of the workshops was ‘Teaching Writing Skills’ and ‘Presenting and Practising Language’ The basic aim for these workshops was to provide a medium for informed discussion of the principles and practice which determine the ways in which the English Language is taught and learnt. There were near about 60 participants for these workshops. Ms Komal Singh a freelance English Language Teaching Professional was the resource person for workshop. A well qualified and extensively trained by the University of Cambridge and the British Council, She has a wide range of work experience spanning over two decades in the English Language. The first workshop was on ‘Presenting and Practising Language’ in which the basic aims was to consider beliefs and opinions on grammar, to explore factors to remember when presenting/focusing on new language, to demonstrate deductive versus inductive/guided discovery approaches, to showcase a range of grammar practice activities for use in the classroom. The second workshop was on ‘Teaching Writing Skills’ in which the focus was on ways to introduce and practice a variety of activities for developing the writing skills and to discuss potential problems that may arise while teaching writing skills. The other aims included issues of accuracy vs. fluency, approaches to error correction, the various stages of a writing lesson and the ‘guided writing’ process. Writing is an essential part of language instruction at every level because it supports learning in multiple ways. Like speaking, writing involves the skills of both accuracy and fluency. Teachers often ask their students to do lots of different types of writing in the classroom and for homework. These can range from copying sentences or words off the board or from the book, to free writing where the learner writes whatever they want under a particular topic. Following are some Ideas for helping students with the writing process: · Preparing them for writing (I) Get students to discuss their ideas in pairs or groups (II) Show students picture to generate ideas (III) Pre-teach some useful vocabulary or phrases for the task, i.e. if teaching how to write a formal letter then perhaps look at formal vs. informal phrases for the different parts of the letter/different reasons for writing (IV) Make sure that students are equipped with the grammatical knowledge they will need to complete the task – e.g. if you ask them to write about life in the 22nd century, make sure they are familiar with using future verb forms (V) Show the students a text of the type they are going to write about and discuss its organisation/layout/contents etc. They can then use this as a model to help them write their own text (VI) If asking students to do more creative writing like a story or poem then try telling them a story or reciting a poem (VII) Ask the students to write a plan of what they’re going to write before they start – this encourages them to think about organisation and structure · Helping them while they are writing (I) Ask the students to work in pairs or groups, writing the text together rather than individually. Co-authoring can often make students feel more open to receiving feedback and suggestions at the editing stage (II) Don’t always set writing tasks for homework. Do them in class so that you can circulate and monitor as they do the activity and provide support where and when it’s needed (III) Let the students refer to an example or model of the same type of text as they write (IV) Help students to develop their dictionary and thesaurus skills so they can use these resources as they write (V) Encourage students to think of their first draft as a draft – this will help them to revise and check as they go along rather than trying to avoid crossing things out and correcting errors · Helping them to check, edit and revise what they are writing (I) Use error correction codes (II) Tell students that they’re only going to be corrected on specific things – e.g. organisation, use of vocabulary, tenses, etc. This will help them to focus on these areas as they’re doing the writing (III) Encourage self correction – give the students some questions to help them focus and/or ask them to stop after the first draft and then come back to in the next lesson with a fresh pair of eyes. It’s often easier to spot errors and suggest improvements having left it for a little while (IV) Encourage peer correction – they can use the error corrections or focused questions to help them evaluate each other’s work.