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A JOURNEY INTO ACADEMIC WRITING

I. WHAT IS ACADEMIC WRITING?


A. Concept Definition. As the name implies, it is the kind of writing that you are required
to do in college or university. It differs from other kinds of writing (personal, literary,
journalistic, business, etc.) in several ways. Its differences can be directly connected to the
audience, the tone, and the purpose or intention.

B. What does writing involve? It involves a number of different activities we perform in


our daily life, it ranges from formal to informal, from simple to complex, for school, work,
home or leisure activities. Moreover, it can be done individually, in pairs, in groups, and in
cooperative and creative forms; in a narrative or a description and even from dictation.
e.g. Agendas, book reviews, brochures, diaries, essays, fashion magazines, function books,
glossaries, invitation cards, journals, listening logs, letters (apology, business,
congratulation, complaint, invitation, love ,thank

you, sympathy, cover, etc.), movie

reviews, notes, paper ads, paragraphs, phone messages, poems, poetry, postcards, plays,
photo stories, portfolios, reading logs, reading reports, recipes, reports, shopping lists,
songs, speeches, stories, summaries, etc.

II. CULTURE AND WRITING CONVENTIONS: RETHORIC


Knowing the cultural aspects of a language will help us understand the way people
communicate ideas more effectively. This knowledge will give the learner the socio-linguistic
competence they need to use the target language. It is also important to state that

Handwriting is a personal and identifying issue.

There is no correspondence between sound and spelling.


Incorrect spelling does not interfere with understanding but a possible match with poor or
lack of education. American Vs. British? Dialog(ue) harbor(u)r, colo(u)r, neighbo(u)r,

favo(u)rite,

center/re,

meter/re,

Liter/re,

theater/re,

apologize/se,

memorize/se,

customize/se, pluralize/se, travel(l)ed, etc.

Some rhetoric patterns are:


A. Americans are straightforward. (direct)
B. Latin-Romance makes use of repetition. (redundant)
C. Arabians-Greeks make use of parallelism. (parallel)
D. Asians spin around the topic. (spiral)
III. COMPLEXITY OF TEACHING WRITING
Teaching writing is not an easy task, the same as any other skill it takes time to be learned or
acquired. It should be well-paced for EFL/ESL students. It should be designed to be taught
from simple to more complex structures. Some of the key issues in teaching it are:
e.g. capitalization, collocations, comma splice, grammar (word order), number agreement,
parallelism, punctuation, redundancy, run-on sentences, sentences (simple, compound,
complex, compound-complex), sentence fragments, spelling, subject-verb agreement, tense
agreement, tense frames (narrative), use of transitions, etc.
To begin with, it is important for our students, as in any language learning process, to get
familiarized with the writing elements. Firstly, the parts of speech or words: A. Content
Words: nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, interrogators; and B. Function Words:
articles, determiners, prepositions, auxiliaries, quantifiers, conjunctions (coordinators and
subordinators.) These will help them understand parallel structures and clauses, which will be
introduced and practiced at a later stage. Some activities to practice STAGE I: WORDS are:
ACTIVITY Nro.1. Display an OHT, a picture, or power point visuals. Then, ask students to
look at it for 20 seconds and try to memorize the items in it. After that, ask students to write a
list naming as many items as they RECALL from the displayed picture. In this activity you
check only the correctly spelled words.
ACTIVITY Nro.2. SNAKES AND LADDERS is a useful game to help students, practice,
review, consolidate or build up vocabulary, the teacher decides the kind of vocabulary he/she
wants to work with. For example: nouns, verbs, adjectives, sports, animals, or all the new
words in a unit or lesson.

ACTIVITY Nro.3. Ask students to get into groups of three or four. Then ask them to write a
list or GLOSSARY for body parts, fruits, sports, articles of clothing, vegetables, food, etc.
This activity can be done before starting any related topic to activate students schemata and
engage them with the class or as a consolidation stage. Timing is very important. You might
want to prize students by giving them extra points. Do not forget to check for spelling. It could
also be assigned as homework.
ACTIVITY Nro.4. On the board, write a compound noun, a phrase, or just two independent
words as the source, raw materials for students to work with and get as many new words as
they can from those letters. Remind them they can only use the letters they have in the words.
For example, GRAND FATHER from which you can get: her, rather, errand, the, than, then,
and, etc. Aim: vocabulary build-up. e.g.

GRAND FATHER
1. a
2. an
3. and
4. are
5. art
6. at
7 ate
8 dare
9 date
10 deaf
11 dear
12 death
13 draft
14 eat
15 end
16 era
17 errand
18 fade
19 fan
20 far

21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30.
31.
32.
33.
34.
35.
36.
37.
38.
39.
40.

fart
farther
fat
fear
gander
garden
garnet
garret
garter
gather
get
gear
graft
grand
grant
grate
grater
great
had
hand

41.
42.
43.
44.
45.
46.
47.
48.
49.
50.
51.
52.
53.
54.
55.
56.
57.
58.
59.
60.

hat
hate
hear
heard
heart
her
herd
near
neat
net
RAF
raft
rafter
rag
ran
range
ranger
rare
rat
Rate

61. rather
62. rear
63. red
64. rent
65. tan
66. tang
67. tarn
68. tear
69. than
70. the
71. then
72. trend
73. etc.

OTHER ACTIVITIES. SCRAMBLED or JUMBLED LETTERS, CLOZE and OPEN CLOZE


EXERCISES, CROSSWORD PUZZLES, TUTTI FRUTTI, WRITING SPELLING BEE, BINGO,
HANG MAN, WORD LADDERS, SCRABBLE, etc.

Secondly, it is crucial for students to understand what a phrase is, its internal structure, and the
different kinds of phrases there are, as well as their position and function within a sentence.
e.g. noun phrases, adjective phrases, adverbial phrases, verbal phrases, prepositional

phrases, and question phrases. Some examples for STAGE II: PHRASES are:
ACTIVITY Nro.1. Game or Contest: Ask students to write a list of animals, describing them,
using and adjective beginning with the very same letter and ordered alphabetically. NOUN
PHRASES = Adjective + Noun. e.g. On Sunday, I went to the zoo and I saw an awesome ant,

a beautiful bird, a cute cat, a dangerous duck, so on. On Sunday, I went to the supermarket and
I bought
ACTIVITY Nro.2. Display an OHT or picture with people in it. Then, ask SS. to describe
them using the information they get from the visual. Using either gerund phrases or
prepositional phrases to identify them. e.g. Who is Paul? He is the boy in blue jeans. or He
is the boy wearing jeans.
Thirdly, having taught words and phrases, we move onto sentences, which can be presented
from different perspectives. For example: A. According to the inner structure: simple,
compound, complex, compound-complex sentences. B. According to the Position in a
Conversation: starters, responsive, closers; and C. According to the Function: exclamatory
(interjections), vocative (calls),greetings, requests, commands (orders),affirmative, negative,
interrogative (yes/no questions, Information questions,tag questions, reply questions, openended questions, indirect/polite/embedded questions, reported questions, or choice questions,
condensed questions, follow-up questions, etc.)
It is always a good idea to have students start writing simple sentences. Then, continue with
compound sentences (using simple and correlative coordinators) and once they have mastered
them move to complex sentences (using subordinators.) Finally, they are ready to work with
compound-complex sentences (using both coordinators and subordinators in it.) Some useful
activities in STAGE III: SENTENCES are:

ACTIVITY Nro.1. You can have your students practice TRANSFORMATION DRILLS,
changing simple sentences from affirmative to negative or interrogative, from active to passive,
from present to past or even future, from direct to reported speech, etc.

ACTIVITY Nro.2. Using COORDINATORS (FAN BOYS) or SUBORDINATORS, ask students


to write COMPOUND and COMPLEX SENTENCES. e.g.
a. Sue went to sleep because she was tired. = Sue was tired so she went to sleep.
b. I love listening to all kinds of music but I cant sing at all.
c. We can go to the north or we can go down south.
d. I would live in Beverly Hills if I had money.
ACTIVITY Nro.3. You can also provide your students with two sentences and ask them to put
them together using a SUBORDINATOR to introduce an adjective clause.
e.g.

1. Nicole Kidman is an actress.

2. She won an Oscar in 2004.

* Nicole Kidman is an actress who won an Oscar in 2004.

or

* Nicole Kidman, who won an Oscar in 2004, is an actress.

or

* The actress who won an Oscar in 2004 is Nicole Kidman.


OTHER ACTIVITIES. IF CLAUSES in a run-on writing activity, For example, If I study, my
father will get me a car. If my father gets me a car I will be able to go to school by myself. If I
am able to go to school by myself I can pick up some friends on my way. If I can pick up some
friends on my way, the trip to school could be more fun, so on; SCRAMBLED WORDS; SPOT
and write THE DIFFERENCES from two pictures; COMPLETE ANSWERS; describing PET
PEEVES. For example, I hate it when ..., It gets on my nerves when, I cant stand it when

bus drivers stop at a red light for a long time.


Then, we need to put sentences together in discourse, thats when we introduce the paragraph
and its elements. A. Topic sentence, which gives us the main idea and the organization for the
paragraph. It can be the first or the last sentence in a paragraph. It may also be the first and last
sentence of the paragraph Sandwich Style. A Sandwich Style paragraph is especially
helpful to the reader when the paragraph is too long. B. Supporting sentences, which give
additional information to round the idea by stating, reasons, examples, facts, statistics,
quotations, personal experience, etc. C. Concluding sentence, which is the last sentence in a
paragraph. We can use the models below:

MODEL A T-BER Paragraph


Topic sentence + controlling idea:
Bridging:
Ex.1
Ex2.
Ex3.
Re-statement:
MODEL B Paragraph
Topic sentence + controlling idea:
Supporting details (examples, facts, statistics, reasons, quotations.)
Supporting details (examples, facts, statistics, reasons, quotations.)
Supporting details (examples, facts, statistics, reasons, quotations.)
Concluding sentence (It signals the end of the paragraph.)
MODEL C Paragraph

TOPIC SENTENCE +

CONTROLLING IDEA

SUPPORTING SENTENCE 1

SUPPORTING SENTENCE 2

SUPPORTING SENTENCE 3

SUPPORTING SENTENCE 4

CONCLUDING SENTENCE

I like travelling around Per because of three main reasons. First,


I like visiting new places like museums, old houses, etc. Second, I enjoy
taking pictures of the places and myself. Third, I love meeting new people
and making friends. Due to all these reasons, travelling is what I most like
doing.

We might also need to explain the kinds of problems we face when we write a paragraph. For
example, choppy sentences (too short or too many simple sentences), stringy sentences (too
many sentences), run-on sentences (two independent clauses together no punctuation),
fragments (incomplete sentences or part of a sentence), comma splice (two independent
clauses incorrectly joined by a comma.)
Another crucial teaching point in writing is the use of transition words (sentence connectors,
sequence markers, conjunctive adverbs, etc.) It is vital because of the fact that students have to
learn to express ideas properly to connect their thoughts cohesively to express, for example,
addition: also, besides, moreover; comparison: likewise, also, similarly; contrast: however,
nonetheless, but; example: for example, for instance; emphasis: in fact; alternative:
otherwise; chronological order or sequence: first of all, first(ly), second(ly), next, then,
finally; cause, effect, purpose, or result: as, as a result, because, consequently, therefore;
concession: although, even though, tough, in spite of (the fact that), despite (the fact that);
conclusion: to conclude, to sum up, to summarize, all in all, in conclusion, in brief, in short.
Using too many transitions should sound rather artificial, thought. STAGE IV: PARAGRAPHS:
ACTIVITY Nro.1. You can have your students write a paragraph supporting ideas for addition
using moreover, furthermore, besides, etc or contrast using otherwise, however, whereas, etc.
or any other transition to learn to connect ideas properly.
To end up, we can go deeper into the Essay world to teach our students the characteristics,
the elements, the types of essays, and finally the process of writing an essay.
A. CHARACTERISTICS: essays have three main characteristics Unity means that you
have to develop only ONE IDEA or topic.Coherence refers to the MEANING LINKS
between sentences, paragraphs, or essay. Cohesion refers to the GRAMMAR LINKS and
the correct use of transitions.
B. ELEMENTS: Introductory Paragraph is the first paragraph of the essay. The Thesis
Statement gives us the main idea or topic and the organization for the essay. The thesis
statement is followed by the CONTROLLING IDEA. Body Paragraphs are all the
paragraphs between the introductory and the concluding one. Concluding Paragraph is
the last paragraph of an essay and it can be done using either the PARAPHRASING or the
SUMMARIZING technique.

C. TYPES OF ESSAYS: Cause-effect, Contrast & comparison, Chronological order, Logical


division of ideas, Free writing, They can also be classified into Narrative: tells a story or
relates a series of events; Descriptive: describes a specific person, place, object, or
situation; Expository: gives information, directions, or explains a process; Persuasive: tries
to convince the reader about the writers opinions.
D. THE PROCESS: Narrowing: Pre-writing technique used to choose the right title for a
paper. Brainstorming: Pre-writing technique used to generate ideas before writing.
Outlining: Pre-writing technique used to organize the ideas into a framework. An outline is
also known as the framework, format, or layout. Drafting: Writing the first copy or rough
draft. Proofreading: also called editing, revising, checking, etc. The stage where you read
to check for contents and organization. Final Copy: Last copy which means that you are
pleased with what you have written. Writing is said to be recursive because it is described
as an interrelated set of stages at which we can start when writing (composing.)

This knowledge will lead us to STAGE V: WRITING AN ESSAY: (you might need to
provide your students with essay samples.)
IV. POSSIBLE PROBLEMS!!!
Some SS. might find writing activities stressing and de-motivating due to:
A. Lack of knowledge & writing skills.
B. Lack of interest in writing activities.
C. Previous bad learning experiences (writing commercial letters, difficult topics,
bland textbooks, wrong approach, and/ or unprepared teachers.)
V. THE ROLE OF THE TEACHER WHEN TEACHING WRITING
A. To have SS. discover the rules by themselves.(DIY.)
B. To provide SS. with authentic materials, models, samples, sources, etc.
C. To focus on ONE English variety (either American or British.)
D. To promote Extensive Reading for SS. to get familiarized with the
different styles, genres, and formats (layouts.)
E. To encourage SS. to avoid any form of PLAGIARISM.(Copy and paste?)
F. To help SS. on the writing journey into fluent writing.
G. To provide accurate, positive feedback (on a personal basis, or groups,
or as a class, on written pieces of work through marks, grades and comments.
VI. WHAT TO FOCUS ON WHEN CORRECTING WRITING?

A. Process Approach. (steps, stages, mechanics, procedures, etc.)


B. Product Approach. (end product, outcome, result, etc.)
C. Genre Approach. (it focuses on the genre, model to follow, etc.)
D. Kinds of analysis. (discourse / text / genre analysis.)
VI. ASSESSMENT, EVALUATION, AND FEEDBACK
ASSESSMENT it is the ongoing process of gathering and analyzing evidence of what students
can do. (Burke 1999) Continuous Assessment.
* We assess the ability of a person to do or learn something. In other words, what students
have learned. It is short and mid-term.
EVALUATION is the process of interpreting the evidence and judge to make decisions based
on the evidence. (Burke 1999) The evaluation uses both qualitative and quantitative methods.
* We evaluate the quality or quantity of a book, syllabus, course, program (curriculum)
method, the process, the outcome, etc. It is long-term.
* FEEDBACK should always be done on a personal basis. (concise, gentle and positive.)
Praise it is motivating, dont criticize it is de-motivating.
WHO CORRECTS:
There are different ways teachers can evaluate, assess or correct writing.
1. Teacher-student.
2. Self-correction.
3. Student-to-student correction. (peer correction)
4. Group correction.
5. Class correction.
HOW TO CORRECT & GIVE FEEDBACK:
Means: Evaluation could be done either orally or in written.
Materials: You can use the board, an OHT, power point presentations, or printed forms.
Way: You can make use of comments (Very Good! Excellent! Great Job!), grades (100, 20)
marks (A+, B-, C) checks and crosses, emoticons, etc.
WHEN TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK:

Teachers can evaluate students while they are producing on the spot, immediately after they
finish the activity, or even the following class, in case of lack of time.
* Accuracy activities On the spot.

* Fluency activities Later.

VII. SOME FUN ACTIVITIES TO TEACH WRITING


Writing creatively is a real challenge, still we can help our students improve their writing skills
by using poems, poetry, acrostics, story writing, etc. Below I will give you some examples on
how to tackle CREATIVE & COOPERATIVE WRITING through useful activities.
A. HAIKU POEMS:

Usually about nature, No rhyme

Line 1: 5 syllables
Line 2: 7 syllables
Line 3: 5 syllables

I play with my friends


In April it`s fun to play
In spring it is warm

Dissertation blues
sleepless nights and endless days
Next year, Dr. me.

B. CINQUAIN: 1st line is the title of the topic, 5th line refers back to
the topic. by Khale.

Noun
Adjective, adjective
Three or four participles (ING)

Three word sentence


Noun
Noun
Adjective, adjective
Three or four participles (ING)

Three word sentence


Noun

Nature
Beautiful, pure
Refreshing, enjoying, relaxing
Nature is healthy
Fun
Love
Genuine, vital
United, cared, shared
Born again, we feel
Life

C. DIAMANTE POEMS:

Noun
Adjective Adjective
Participle Participle Participle

Noun

Noun

Noun

Noun

Participle Participle Participle

Adjective, Adjective
Noun

First and last word are opposites


Lines 2 & 3 relate to the first noun
Lines 5 & 6 relate to the last noun
In line 4 the first 2 words relate to the 1st noun
the last 2 words relate to the last noun

Birth
green bright
shining growing blooming
flower foodheat draught
fading slowing dimming
brown dark
Death

Friend
good important
helping, laughing, talking
happiness strength weakness anger
fighting lying killing
bad hateful
Enemy
By Doris Ramos &LoluwaiSubah.

D. SHAPE POEMS: A shape poem is written in the shape of the major topic or
feeling. Roller coaster, clouds, leaf piles, fruits, etc. All lines of the shape
poem relate to or describe the shape.

e.g. Grasshopper Poems by E. E.

Cummings.
APPLE
A fruit
Red, juicy, sweet
Good in pies
A healthy treat.

E.

ACROSTIC POEMS: An acrostic poem


uses the letters in a word to begin each line of
the poem. All lines of the poem relate to or
describe the main topic word.

Shines brightly
Up in the sky
Nice and warm on my skin

F. DRABBLE: is an extremely short work of fiction exactly one hundred words


in length, although the term is often incorrectly used to indicate a short
story of fewer than 1000 words. The purpose of a drabble is brevity, testing
the author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an
extremely confined space. Short Stories.
G. BIO POETRY:
I AM POEMS.
I am _________ (name)
3 adjectives that describe me
I love _________
I hate _________
I am afraid of ________
I wish for ___________
A SPECIAL PLACE.
I/ We see
I/ We hear
I/ We feel
I/ We smell
I/ We taste

I am Jodi
energetic, helpful, friendly
I love cats
I hate smoke
I am afraid of heights
I wish for peace.
I see flashes of red wings among the snow.
I hear the winds of winter storms.
I feel the cold, rough ridges of old bark.
I smell fresh pine ....after rain.

A SPECIAL SEASON or PLACE.


________ feels like
Fall feels like a cold winter.
________ looks like
Fall looks like trees getting old.
________ smell like
Fall smells like dead leaves.
________ sounds like
Fall sounds like trees moving.
________ tastes like
Fall tastes like pizza and soup.
________ makes me feel
Fall makes me feel happy
Because we get to make a pile of leaves.
BIBLIOGRAPHY:
Alice Oshima & Ann Hogue. Writing Academic English, 3rd edition. Addison Wesley Longman 1999.
Rebecca Oxford, Pike-Baky Meredith. Tapestry Writing 4. Heinle & Heinle 2000.
Jack Richards & Chuck Sandy. Passages 1. Cambridge University Press 2000.
Jack Richards & Chuck Sandy. Passages 2. Cambridge University Press 2000.
Beverly Ingram Carol King. From Writing to Composing. Cambridge University Press 1988.
Ann O. Strauch, Bridges to Academic Writing. Cambridge University Press 1998.
Jeremy Harmer. The Practice of English Language Teaching, 3rd Edition. Pearson Education 2001.
Jody Crandal, Poetry Frames for English Language Learning. crandal@umbc.edu
Penny Ur. A course in Language Teaching. Cambridge University Press 1999.
Pontificia Universidad Catlica del Per. Book for Advanced Writing. PUCP 2004.