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A Profile of Dumindi - a Sri Lankan Learner
by Sharon Buddemeier
- 4

Writing

The following criteria will be used in assessing Dumindi’s writing:
• Task achievement and Content (includes effect on the reader)
• Appropriacy of organization, style and genre (includes effect on the reader)
• Range and complexity of language
• Accuracy of language (including lexis, spelling, and grammar)

The two writing samples are of similar genres, but are written with very different purposes and styles. The first is a formal letter with the primary purpose of giving directions, and the second is an informal letter to a friend with the purpose of giving instructions for a recipe.

* Reminder: the following line numbers are from Appendices 3 and 4; Sample 1= (S1) and Sample 2 = (S2)

Task achievement and content

strengths

• she gives the origin of the dish, it is clearly described, and can easily follow the recipe (S1)

• she has a very friendly way of writing and including the reader: your mouth will be watering (36), as you know (28), I am very happy to give you (26)

• all of the information in S2 is clear, necessary, and nothing major is omitted.

• The apology is clear and is repeated. Because of her correct use of polite language in both the introduction and the conclusion, the reader is likely to understand that she doesn’t mean to be rude (S2)- [see weaknesses under appropriacy]

weaknesses

• Task not achieved in S1:

o Unable to choose useful and relevant subject matter: just the bus number, the number of stops and/or a landmark, how to meet her

o She includes a lot of unnecessary/illogical information see highlights (5-9)

o She exceeds the word count in both samples, and will struggle to be succinct when she takes the exam.

Appropriacy of organization, style and genre

strengths

• Both samples are in the correct format including proper paragraphing, closing, and signature

• Organization:
o both texts are logically structured

o Good use of sequencers (S2) and control over usage of capital letters and full stops, and appropriate use of commas make the texts easy to read.

• Appropriate use of good language for an informal letter (highlighted in analysis)

weaknesses

• Organization:
o no greeting or date (S1)
o inappropriate identification of self and why she is writing (S1)

• Inappropriate language (S1) evidence of lack of awareness of register differences in
o formal/ informal writing and spoken/written English and will have a negative effect on the reader. Examples include: To be honest (5) and I hope my road guidance are clear enough for you (17). [See highlights].

Range and complexity of language

strengths

• Good range of:
o Impertives for recipe instructions
o Recipe and food-related lexis (but not recipe!)
o Amounts and quantities

• Language for giving directions:
o it runs through (9)
o reach/pass the junction (10, 11)
o before it reach to (11)
o it takes Mount Pleasant Road (12)
o you will see (14)

weaknesses

• repetition of ‘then’ (33, 34, 35, 37, 38) instead of substituting ‘after that’ or ‘next’ makes S1 a bit boring to read; she also uses ‘then’ in (10, 11, 14).
• other problems with range are linked with task achievement and content and can be found in those sections.

Accuracy of language (including lexis, spelling, and grammar)

strengths

• Spelling is very good and never causes miscommunication or strain on the reader.
• Control over use of pronouns and subject-verb agreement
• Good use of conjunctions:
o for compounding to join or giving alternatives (33-34, 35-36, 37-38)

weaknesses

Accuracy for the level is a problem as evidenced by her writing and the low score on Paper 3. Like many students in Sri Lanka, she has been pushed through the system too quickly due to her communicative competence and listening skills at the expense of accuracy.

• Unable to use her range of phrases for giving directions accurately to create meaningful discourse [see task achievement].

• modality and other verb tenses:
o I don’t be able to come (3)- a fossilized phrases that also appeared in her speaking
o I must attend to (4)
o Hope that you will enjoy the journey (19)
o you will have food that you could never forget (30)

o When you arrived at the station call a taxi and asked the driver (7)
o While you are travelling you will see (13)

• Use of articles causes confusion because she only uses the definite article (the) in lines 10-12 and so the reader doesn’t know which junction is being referred to.

• Use of prepositions such as reach to (5, 6)
o see highlights

• Failure to use contractions in S2 makes text overly formal

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