Comparative Essay: Teaching Writing


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Comparative Essay: Teaching Writing

  1. 1. COMPARATIVE ESSAY: TEACHING WRITINGComparativeEssay: TeachingWritingDannae Del Campo Méndez y Gabriela Quezada CabezasUniversidad Católica de La Santísima Concepción
  2. 2. COMPARATIVE ESSAY: TEACHING WRITINGThe psycholinguistic Lenneberg(1967) once mentioned that human beingsuniversally learn to walk and to talk, but that swimming and writing are culturally specific,learned behaviours. This quotation highlights the importance of teaching writing in aneffective manner, teaching students the necessary strategies that will help them to developand to improve their writing skills. In the following paragraphs will be develop the mostrelevant characteristics of teaching writing skill according to three different authors Brown(2001)Nunan (1999) and Ur, (1996).According to Brown (2001) there are 6 main issues on the process of teaching writing. Oneof these issues is called process vs. product. The author explained that half a century agoteachers were focused on the final product of writing instead of the process to get to thatproduct which is what concerns teachers today. In the same issue, according to Shih (1986);it can be noticed that the approach focuses on the process of writing instead of the writtenproduct, it helps students to understand the process of writing, it also gives importance toprocess of revision, it gives students time to write and rewrite and it gives them feedbackduring the entire process and not just on the final product. Moreover, according to Nunan(1999) the nature of the writing is focused on product and process approaches. The first ofthe approaches is defined as an approach which is focused on the final product;furthermore, the second of them is focused on the steps involved in drafting and redraftinga piece of writing. Nunan (1999) gave special attention on the process approach and somecritics about it such as the development of the necessary critical thinking skill to produce afactual writing in which they need to succeed in school. Finally the author concluded interms of nature that what students need in the writing classrooms are appropriateapproaches and procedures. Brown (2001) supported this idea by mentioning that it is
  3. 3. COMPARATIVE ESSAY: TEACHING WRITINGimportant to find a balance between process and product but that the product is, after all,the ultimate goal and the process is not the end; it is the mean to the end.Furthermore, another issue named by Brown (2001) is called contrastive rhetoricand it is based on an article written by Kaplan (1996) in which he argued that all types oflanguage have different patterns of written discourse. Consequently English learners bringpredispositions because of their native language; this means that everyone’s native culturehas an effect on the process of learning writing. Nunan (1999) also mentioned Kaplan’swork. He argued that the study has relationships between cultural thought patterns anddiscourse. The main argument of the research in contrastive rhetoric as it was mentionedabove is based on that certain culturally determined ways of thinking and communicatingwill transfer themselves to second language texts.However, Nunan (1999) not only shows similarities with Brown (2001) but alsowith another author, Ur (1996). Nunan (1999) explained the differences and similaritiesbetween writing and a “talk written down”. At first, he quoted Halliday (1985) to explainthe purposes of the written language, such as communicating actions, information andentertainment. Then, he explained that written language and spoken language are similar interms of function. Nevertheless, they differ in the context in which they are used. They alsodiffer in the permanent or semipermanent record through the time and in the ratio ofcontent words to grammatical words. Moreover, Ur (1996) explained only the differencesbetween written and spoken language. She argued that the permanence is one of thecharacteristics that differentiate written from spoken language. She also mentioned that thedensity is more present in written than in spoken language among others.
  4. 4. COMPARATIVE ESSAY: TEACHING WRITINGOn the contrary, Brown (2001) mentioned only the characteristics of written language, notmentioning the spoken language. Some of these characteristics are the permanence, theproduction time, the distance and the orthography, among others.Finally, Brown (2001) and Ur (1996), gave special attention to the process ofevaluating students’ writing and giving feedback. Ur (1996) gave as an advice to correctlanguage mistakes and make suggestions about content and organization, also she explainedhow important is that students rewrite their pieces of writing, not only because it reinforceslearning but also because it is an integral part of the writing process as a whole. At last shealso mentioned that peer-correction is a good option because it can be a time-saving anduseful technique. Moreover, (Brown, 2001)gave other kind of advices about evaluating andgiving feedback students. He explained that the most instructive evaluative feedbacks that ateacher can give are their commands, both specific and summative, regarding the students’work. He also mentioned that he emphasize of the evaluation should be on the content ofthe papers, then the organization and discourse and finally the syntax, vocabulary andmechanics. Another important fact that it is mentioned is that students need to understandthat the teachers’ grades, scores, and comments are varying forms of feedback from whichthey can benefit.To sum up, in Nunan’s words (1999) “the written language is in terms of skills themost difficult thing to do in language; it is something most native speakers never master”.In the previous paragraphs were described and mentioned some characteristics, similarities,and differences between 3 authors’ points of view. The first author analysed was Brown(2001) who createdspecial attention on the written form itself, not mentioning spokenlanguage as Nunan (1999) and Ur (1996) did. Moreover, Brown (2001) also gave attention
  5. 5. COMPARATIVE ESSAY: TEACHING WRITINGto the process vs. product and contrastive rhetoric as some of the issues of the process ofwriting. The second author analysed, Nunan (1999) mentioned the process and product asthe nature of language. He also compared the written and spoken language, not mentioningthe evaluating or giving feedback process as Ur (1996) and Brown(2001)did. Finally, Ur(1996) mentioned in her work the differences between spoken and written language andsome advices directed to teachers about how evaluate and give feedback to students, notmentioning the issues of the process of writing.
  6. 6. COMPARATIVE ESSAY: TEACHING WRITINGReferencesBrown, H. D. (2001). Teaching by principles: an interactive approach to languagepedagogy. LongmanKaplan, R. B. (1966). Cultural Thought Patterns in Inter-Cultural Education.LanguageLearning, 16(1-2), 1–20.Lenneberg, E. H. (1967). Biological foundations of language.Wiley.Nunan, D. (1999). Second language teaching & learning.Heinle&Heinle Publishers.Shih, M. (1986).Content-Based Approaches to Teaching Academic Writing.TesolQuarterly, 20(4), 617–648.Ur, P. (1996) A Course in Language Teaching.Cambridge University Press.