Archive for Tag: genre writing

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

A Fresh Take on Teaching Point of View

Tamara Jones is an ESL Instructor at Howard Community College, Columbia, Maryland

I had the good fortune to be able to attend the TESOL 2018 Conference in Chicago back in March. Even though I have been teaching for 25ish years, I always learn something new whenever I attend conferences like TESOL or IATEFL. This past spring was no exception; I left with several great ideas and renewed enthusiasm for teaching.

As I perused the conference program, I was excited to see a session called Shifting Student Paradigms: Beyond Main Ideas and Five Paragraph Essays. So often, ESL instructors teach students to write through the five paragraph essay format, and yet, when you really think about it, when was the last time you actually wrote a five paragraph essay in real life? Sure, it could be argued that the five paragraph essay is a microcosm of longer academic writing. My Master’s dissertation and Doctoral thesis do contain the skeletons of five paragraph essays. And, it could also be argued that students need to learn academic writing and the five paragraph essay is merely a common, familiar vehicle for the practice of it. However, I am also always intrigued when teachers want to look beyond the five paragraph essay to other genres. (For more on this, see my blog post describing Nigel Caplan’s outstanding workshop on Genre Writing.) Anyway, I was intrigued.

And was I ever glad I put a star beside this particular session! Among other ELT ideas, the presenters, Chui and Fujiwara, described a great activity for teaching students to consider point of view when writing. This is an important skill for our learners because, “an active exploration of this writer/reader interaction can lead students to realize and internalize the idea that what they write becomes another person’s reading and must therefore anticipate a reader’s needs and meet a reader’s expectations” (Spack, 1985, 706). However, L2 readers and writers may need extra support when considering issues of point of view. In addition to this being something important for writers to keep in mind, it can be a useful skill for critical readers as well. Being able to recognize an author’s implied point of view is an essential step toward identifying bias in a text. And, we could all bring a little more of that to what we read, right?

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Genre Writing, Courtesy of Nigel Caplan

TamaraJonesBy Tamara Jones
ESL Instructor, Howard Community College
Columbia, Maryland
jonestamara@hotmail.com

How great is it to be an ESL/EFL teacher? To me, it’s absolutely amazing to have worked in a field for as many years as I have and to still be learning new things. I suspect you might feel that way too, no matter how long you’ve been teaching, because you are reading this blog. Anyway, a few weeks ago, there I was in a professional development workshop organized by my school, listening to the dynamic and engaging presenter Nigel Caplan talk about writing, and becoming giddy about learning something new.

Now, these days I don’t teach many writing classes, but I found what he had to say really interesting and potentially applicable to other skills. My two big “take-aways” from Nigel’s presentation were related to (1) genre writing and (2) collaborative writing. Today, I’ll share what I learned about genre writing.

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