A Process Approach to
by Adam Simpson
3. Implications for Teaching
Some of the difficulties that are associated
with writing in language classes stem from the nature of writing
itself. According to Hadfield and Hadfield (1990), Writing
can be considered to be an 'artificial' activity when compared
to speaking, in that everyone learns to speak and to listen,
whereas far fewer people develop literacy, i.e. are able to
read and write(1) . Consequently, writing should be something
that is nurtured and developed in the language classroom,
resulting in the difficulties experienced by learners being
comprehended and dealt with. I have tried to achieve this
by understanding the problems that learners experience and
employing techniques to overcome them.
3.1 Problems for the Learner
Hadfield and Hadfield (1990) note three areas
of difficulty for the learner in relation to the productive
skills of writing and speaking, namely psychological, linguistic
and cognitive(2) difficulties. Each of these will be considered
in turn(3) .
3.1.1 Psychological Difficulties
Firstly, the writer cannot consult the reader;
the audience is not immediately present as is the case with
speaking. The psychological difficulty therefore lies in deciding
what information the reader needs and the best way to express
this. This difficulty manifests itself in the prewriting stage,
when some learners may be unwilling or unable to produce ideas
that will work towards the construction of a piece of writing.
In order to overcome these difficulties, the teacher must
employ certain strategies to elicit the necessary input.
3.1.2 Linguistic Difficulties
Secondly, learners suffer from linguistic difficulty,
in that the language used when speaking is not the same as
that used in speech. In some cases it is simpler (e.g. shopping
lists), in others it is more elaborate and formal (e.g. academic
essays). Native speakers not only know an elaborate network
of conventions but also know how and when to legitimately
'break the rules'. This problem is evident in learners who
are unaware of the discourse patterns inherent in certain
types of writing(4) .
3.1.3 Cognitive Difficulties
Finally, there is cognitive difficulty.
This relates to the necessity of learners to organise their
thoughts on paper. This may be difficult in such circumstances
as an essay given as homework, for which the purpose is not
immediately apparent, and the piece of writing is not being
done for any personal reasons.
1.Hadfield & Hadfield,
3.Methods for overcoming these problems will be discussed
in section 6.
4. Examples being comparison/contrast essays or argumentative
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