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How to improve your Writing Strategies?

How to improve your Writing Strategies?

Author: John Travis

Writing strategies are extremely important in the process of learning to write. In this respect, it is important to focus on the development of writing skills and abilities which can facilitate writing process.

Coaching writing is an effective writing strategy. As students acquire their basic knowledge about writing mainly from reading, it is possible to improve their fluency through stimulation of their writing. At this stage it is possible to start implement various methods targeting at the improvement and enlargement of students’ writing skills and abilities. In this respect, it is possible to recommend implementing coaching writing developed by William Strong (2001). In spite the fact that this approach is often criticized, it can be quite effective and contribute to the positive development of students’ writing skills. Naturally, it is possible to argue that coaching writing tends, in a way, to some drilling but at the same time this approach may be quite interesting for students.

In this respect, Strong underlines that he uses sentence combining, which is the basis of his approach, “to make good sentences, not long ones” (2001:16). This is one of the major principles of this approach since the quality should dominate over quantity. Furthermore, Strong argues that sentence combining “builds fluency and prompts students to write more varied, syntactically mature sentences” (slotcashapillar). At the same time Strong is conscious of the possible negative impact of pure drilling this is why he warns that it is necessary to focus on “ways of working smarter, not harder – and thus reducing the risk of burnout in teaching” (2001:7). In such a way, this approach may be viewed as another step in the increasing students’ fluency in writing which may harmoniously accomplish their skills and experience acquired from reading.

Another strategy is writing as a writer. Naturally, the fluency is important in teaching writing skills but students need to learn new skills to keep progressing in their writing. This means that they need to become more proficient in their writing that implies the acquisition of new, more profound knowledge about language and writing. What is probably even more important is the practical implementation of students’ knowledge and skills. In fact, Tom Romano underlines that “learning to use language, to discover and communicate ideas is essential for making sense of our experience – our academic experience, our personal experience” (1987:7). At the same time, the profound understanding of language and the view on writing from the position of a writer should be mutual, i.e. from the part of both students and teachers. In this respect, Romano states that “sensitive, knowledgeable teachers who know writing from inside are invaluable” (1987:7).
Obviously, if teachers can perfectly understand what writing actually is, then they are able to convey all the nuances of the writing process to their students. They should be able to make their students to be writer, to think like writer and, what is more, students should “think about their thinking” (Strong 2001:186). In such a way, students acquire essential experience and can improve their writing skills, while teachers can teach their students to view the language and writing as the whole, as the system uniting all their knowledge about its parts.
At the same time, students need to learn writing in a cultural context. At the upper stages of the development of students writing skills, teachers face another challenge – they need to take into consideration the cultural context and background of their students. It is not a secret that students from different cultural background may have different writing skills. In fact, this difference may be not so obvious at first stages of teaching writing skills when basically elementary skills are needed but, as the learning process grows more and more complicated, the language proficiency may be crucial. Naturally, the cultural background plays an extremely important role since the language proficiency may vary considerably in different socio-cultural groups.

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