English language teaching in the post-methods era:
Teaching Writing in Chinese Universities: Finding an Eclectic Approach Keywords: Her research interests include ESP course design, genre analysis and foreign language teaching methodology.
Abstract This paper outlines an eclectic approach to teaching English writing to Chinese university students. It attempts to address the major problems of college English writing: Based on the discussion of current approaches to teaching writing, three implications anthony seow process writing approach introduced to improve Chinese college English writing instruction as well as enhance effective learning: Introduction In the Chinese university context, where exposure to English is typically limited to four hours each week, students receive little practice in writing in English.
When they do write, they find themselves confused with word choice, correct grammatical use, organization and the generation of ideas. Moreover, students show little knowledge about how to write a contextually appropriate paper and how to develop their process of creative writing. Unfortunately, the pressures of the CET College English Test and the College English curriculum force English teachers to focus their attention on grammatical rules, linguistic accuracy and students final piece of work instead of functional language skills.
Due to students low level proficiency, time constraints and low motivation, writing still remains a weak point. Teaching college English writing in China is a challenging job for many Chinese English teachers because it not only requires high language competence among the teachers themselves, but also the application of appropriate writing instruction.
This paper aims to provide fresh perspectives on Chinese college English writing classrooms. To achieve this objective, it firstly identifies five major problems of teaching English writing in Chinese universities. Secondly, it reviews the literature on recent strands of writing instructions the process approach and the genre approach.
Based on the benefits and drawbacks of the two approaches, the genre process approach is recommended as an eclectic approach to Chinese English writing instruction in universities. Finally, three suggestions for the process genre approach are put forward to be implemented into Chinese college English writing classes.
The Chinese College English Syllabus and the CET syllabus highly value correct linguistic forms instead of students development of creative thought. The desire for high CET pass rates among universities places English teachers in a dilemma.
Under immense pressure, English teachers must focus on teaching correct language forms and test-oriented skills rather than helping students develop their creative thinking and language skills for communicative purposes.
In the CET, students are required to write a three-paragraph essay based on three topic sentences written in Chinese.
This controlled writing format hinders teachers in trying new approaches to writing instruction. Teacher feedback focuses more on grammatical and lexical errors instead of meaning-oriented exploration.
In brief, under such a syllabus, students are mainly evaluated by their test scores. According to the national syllabus, reading ability is still regarded as the most important skill. Compared with the other three skills, writing is considered too complicated to teach or not important enough to teach in the class Zeng, Zhang also points out that writing occupies a lower position in Chinese university English classrooms and remains the weak point of university students.
As a result, this reading-dominated principle brings about negative feedback from the workplace where there are many complaints about graduates lack of competence their writing and speaking skills Li, In spite of the great influence of alternative Western approaches to the teaching of writing, many language teachers still adopt the product approach in the writing class.
Writing tasks are presented in a decontextualized way, neglecting the context and audience. They tend to serve a text-oriented purpose rather than a communicative one Mesana, In the Chinese context, the product approach, for many years, has been the dominant mode of instruction in Chinese university writing classes, highlighting the learner s final piece of work instead of how it is produced Zhang, This has various consequences; firstly, writing quality is judged on the basis of the final product and grammatical and linguistic accuracy.
Furthermore, due to this product focus, students pay little attention to the whole process of writing since they know little about how to generate ideas for writing Ge, Consequently, they struggle with text organization, independent thinking and generation of ideas Chen, In China, for non-English major students, the four language skills are taught in one class.
Due to this CET-oriented writing format, writing instruction mainly centers on three types of texts: Students know little about other genre-specific conventions and contexts in which these genres are used. For instance, from my own teaching experience, non-English major students in Chinese universities know little about how to write an appropriate job application letter, a resume or an invitation.
However, writing is not purely an individual act but a social and communicative one Flower, Since language occurs in particular social cultural contexts, written production needs to consider the social and cultural context as well as the intended audience.
Writers use different text types to accomplish different purposes and to fulfill certain social functions Paltridge, As a consequence, writing classes need to help students understand the social functions of multiple genres and how language creates meaning in different social cultural contexts Hyland, This has led to the situation in which teacher-dominated feedback still remains prevalent in Chinese college English writing classrooms.
Due to the high pressure from the CET and heavy emphasis on linguistic forms, college English teachers mainly concentrate on the correction of grammar and spelling and they believe that students can make progress only after teachers identify the mistakes.).
Indeed, the process approach relies heavily on the “recursive nature” of writing mentioned by Smith in Writing and the Writer, ‘writing is a recursive process and text is often moved around, modified, cut and expanded’ (Smith ).
Methodology in language teaching: an anthology of current practice / edited by Jack C. Richards and Willy A. Renandya. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN – ISBN (pb.) 1. Language and languages – Study and teaching.
2. English language – Study and teaching – Foreign speakers. I. This collection provides an overview of current approaches, issues, and practices in the teaching of English to speakers of other languages. This book provides an overview of current approaches, issues, and practices in the teaching of English to speakers of other languages.
The anthology offers a comprehensive overview to the teaching of English . Jun 04, · Process writing approach is one of the approaches can be used in teaching the students to write a text, like a descriptive text. It covers prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.
This writing tells about prewriting process in teaching writing descriptive text. Transcript of Teaching Writing Alexandria Wertz Why Writing? Ten Steps in Planning a Writing Course and Training Teachers of Writing - Ann Raimes The Writing Process and Process Writing - Anthony Seow Teaching Students.
Third, process approach activities will be presented as ways of helping students over come their writing difficulties. There will be a summary of how a process approach specifically addresses common problems that English language students have, and the benefits of the process approach in writing studies will be made clear.