Writing is a complex task, particularly writing in a second language. Advanced students in our classes have a variety of different backgrounds that impact their writing: some received limited formal writing instruction; others have not been successful writers in their first language; many struggle with dividing their attention between language, organization, and the formulation of original ideas. Continue reading
Providing students students with the topic of the writing assignment is essential but most likely not sufficient. In order for students to understand the writing assignment as an opportunity to practice their writing skills, clear guidelines are essential. Read about writing assignment characteristics that help students complete the writing task successfully and move them towards more sophisticated writing. Continue reading
Whenever students receive a grade on a writing assignment it should be informative. Receiving informative feedback helps students understand their strengths and weaknesses, so that they can focus on improving their writing abilities. Using an analytical grading rubric can provide the information that student need to advance their writing. Continue reading
We find that students either overuse or underuse dictionaries when they write. And oftentimes they go the easy route using Google translate. Some advanced language students can easily discern that a Google translation is simply wrong. This is most likely the case when a student knows the appropriate word or expression but wants to double- check the accuracy or see the word in the context of a sentence.
In many other instances, however, when students are not familiar with the word or expression they are looking for, they blindly trust Google and end up with unidiomatic or nonsense expressions, such as “driving a bike” or “he does not have all the cups in the cupboard.”
Going the easy Google Translate route might be the result of lack of experience with dictionary use …. Continue reading
Students are oftentimes not aware of their writing strategies, whether they are effective or ineffective. They perceive writing as a class assignment they need to complete to earn a grade but not as a skill they need to develop as a college student and a life-long writer. Therefore, communicating to students that writing is a skill that they develop over several semesters, through repeated practice and the guidance of the instructor, might be the missing link for students to become more successful writers. Continue reading
Instructors spend many hours providing corrective feedback to students’ writing. But is written corrective feedback effective? And what do we mean when we say “effective”? Seeing improvement on the next draft or the next paper –or in the next class (long-term effect)? Does corrective feedback have an impact on students’ ability to monitor language use and self-correct more effectively? Or does feedback even have an effect on language development overall?
Watch a talk by Jessica Williams who addresses these issues. Continue reading