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FORECASTING CONTINUOUS WRITING QUESTIONS IN SPM 1119 2019: AN INSIGHT

October 27, 2019

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Developing Ideas in Writing: How Deep Can Lower Intermediate Learners Dig on their Own?

December 29, 2018

 

 

 

Development of ideas is always one of the crucial elements in any writing assessment. Some learners especially the good ones do not have much problems to develop ideas either in their paragraph or essay. However, as we know, most of lower intermediate learners are not able to develop ideas well when they write.

 

As ESL teachers, let us reflect on how we help our lower intermediate learners develop ideas when they write? Do we only inform them by saying “It is important for you to develop ideas”? Do we merely comment, “Your ideas are not develop well”? If we only give those kinds of comments without guiding them how to develop ideas effectively, then I guess, we have not done our job well.

 

No doubt, teachers should always encourage their learners to develop ideas on their own; be independent learners; be creative; work hard to elaborate their ideas. However, in reality that can only be achieved after our LOWER INTERMEDIATE or WEAK LEARNERS are given some guidance or tips to develop ideas. It is an undeniable fact that MOST of lower intermediate learners are not able to develop ideas on their successfully without PROPER guidance and support from their ESL teachers.

 

This write-up wishes to share a strategy named “15 Options” that has been used to guide my lower intermediate learners develop ideas when they write. It is a very simple strategy as simplicity suits lower intermediate learners best. They are introduced to 15 items or topics which they can choose, perhaps any 3-6 items to develop an idea. It depends on the length of paragraph or essay that they have to write. The 15 items are listed in Table 1, Table 2, Table 3, Table 4, Table 5 and Table 6 below.

 

Of course it is not compulsory for lower intermediate learners to provide 15 different details or elaborations when they write on their own in examination. To develop ideas for examination purpose, learners only write several details, perhaps 3-6 details based on any of the 15 items. The selection of items is surely based on the main idea written in their paragraph.

 

 

Implementation of “15 Options”

 

 

Phase 1: INTRODUCTION

 

  1. Introduction to writing assessment criteria.

  2. Highlighting the importance of developing one’s ideas.

  3. Introduction to “15 Options”

  4. Explanation of Table 1

  5. Practice 1: Describing a best friend using the “15 Options” strategy

  6. Discussion on the suitability of the ideas presented by the learners

  7. Examining Table 2

 

Phase 2: PRACTICES

 

  1. Practice 3: Sentence construction based on the main idea given by the teacher.

  2. Discussion on the suitability of the ideas presented by the learners.

  3. Discussion on the sample sentences presented in Table 3

  4. Practice 4: Sentence construction based on the main idea given by the teacher.

  5. Discussion on the suitability of the ideas presented by the learners.

  6. Discussion on the sample sentences presented in Table 4.

  7. Practice 5: Sentence construction based on the main idea given by the teacher.

  8. Discussion on the suitability of the ideas presented by the learners.

  9. Discussion on the sample sentences presented in Table 5.

  10. Practice 6: Sentence construction based on the main idea given by the teacher.

  11. Discussion on the suitability of the ideas presented by the learners.

  12. Discussion on the sample sentences presented in Table 6.

 

Phase 3: ENRICHMENT

 

  1. More practices are given based on the performance, progress and need of lower intermediate learners.

  2. Lower intermediate learners must be independent or at least less dependent on teachers when developing ideas in Phase 3.

  3. It is important to ensure the time taken to complete writing a paragraph or essay must be in line with the time suggested in examinations. In other words, the time take to complete the writing task in Phase 3 must be much shorter than the time taken in Phase 1 and Phase 2.

 

These days, the implementation of CEFR English in Form 1, Form 2 and Form 3 requires ESL teachers to comply with the prepared scheme of work. Teachers must conduct lessons based on the prescribed content and learning standards. This could be a hindrance for teachers to implement “15 Options” in their classroom as this strategy is best implemented without any interference. So, what can teachers do?

 

If lower form teachers (not much problem with upper form teachers) do not wish this strategy to interfere their CEFR lessons, then, there should be a separate half-a-day workshop for lower intermediate learners. It is also possible to conduct a two-day workshop whereby learners stay back for two days after school. Definitely, both parties, learners and teachers need to figure out what is the best way to implement this strategy.

 

 

CLOSURE

 

It is our ultimate responsibility to guide, coach, assist and motivate our learners especially the weaker ones to develop ideas when they write. If not us, who? If not now, when? If not “15 Options”, what? The answers are not with me but they are with you. You are always the best decision makers in your own ESL classrooms.

 

If you notice, the 15 items chosen in this strategy are applicable to describe people, places and events. In writing assessment either at PT3 or SPM level, learners' writing tasks always involve descriptions of people, places and events. Therefore, if our lower intermediate learners are given sufficient practices, I am positive that will really help them to write better in examinations.

 

“15 Options” can be an alternative strategy for you. It has worked well in my own classrooms. It has also acted as an effective tool to develop ideas for my lower intermediate learners. This strategy has helped my weak learners to write more. The 15 items have given them more than enough options that guide them to write longer. I hope your learners will also experience progress and reap success when “15 Options” is implemented in your classroom. All the best!

 

 

 

 

Table 1

 

 

 

Table 2

 

 

 

 

Table 3

 

 

 

Table 4

 

 

 

Table 5

 

 

 

Table 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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