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The Social Effect Of Extracurricular Activities English Language Essay

The present chapter intends to present some of the most prominent issues concerning employing extracurricular activities and their effect on the learners' achievement in writing in general and in the ELT in particular. Also, it's relation with attitude of the learners, writing apprehension, and the emergence of different strategies will be under study.

Extracurricular Activities in ESL/EFL Context

Extracurricular activities play an important role in today's secondary education programs (Holland & Andre, 1987).The development of extracurricular activities was slow in the beginning, with many seeing it simply as a temporary fashion that would pass and quickly lose its style (Millard, 1930, as cited in Broh, 2002). One of the early philosophies behind extracurricular activities was that they should, wherever at all possible, "grow out of curricular activities and return to curricular activities to enrich them" (Millard, 1930, p. 12, cited in Broh, 2002, p. 71).

Eventually people, including educators, began to see the benefits of extracurricular activities, but it took a while to assimilate with the new trend. In fact, before 1900, educators were suspicious of participation in extracurricular activities, believing that "school should focus solely on narrowly defined academic outcomes. Non-academic activities were viewed as being primarily recreational and therefore were detrimental to academic achievement, and consequently were discouraged" (Marsh & Kleitman, 2002, p. 5). Early experts on extracurricular activities including Millard (1930, cited in Broh, 2002) believed that "Extracurricular activities supplement and extend those contacts and experiences found in the more formal part of the program of the school day" (p. 16). It was not until recently that educational practitioners and researchers have taken a more positive perspective and asserting that extracurricular activities may have positive effects on life skills and may also benefit academic achievements (Marsh & Kleitman, 2002).

Kuh (1993) asserted that more than70% of what students learn in college comes from extra-curricular activities and that most students believe that the activities they do out of class provide the most significant learning experiences (Moffatt, 1989). In addition to the confirmations made by these researchers, the students themselves asserted that extracurricular activities contributed to their maturation (Kuh, 1993).

Jugovic's (2011) positive perspective about extracurricular activities was concerned about the power of such activities to overcome some difficulties in the language classroom. He believed that it is advantageous to "think outside the box," and in various contexts, to consider and apply the physical aspect of language learning such as integrating simple activities like talking and walking, which occur in natural communicative situations (Jugovic, 2011).

There have been some studies devoted to studying the relationship between student involvement in activities and student academic achievement and the optimal proficiency in a foreign language (Jogovic, 2011; Marsh & Kleitman, 2002). Although a positive correlation has been shown in many of these studies, there is still a fierce battle among educators concerning the need for extracurricular activities. Even some researches took a more neutral stand and attribute the ultimate influence of extracurricular activities to the context in which they occur (Shephard, 1996). They assert that extracurricular activities can have a positive or negative impact on students, depending on the context in which they are experienced. One way of viewing the impact of after-school activities is to apply a risk and resilience framework to them. Under certain circumstances after-school programs may present deficiencies (detract from positive growth and development); while under others they may provide protective impacts (prevent students who are at risk for negative outcomes from experiencing those outcomes).

Two positions appear to be prevalent in today's academic community regarding extracurricular activities (Marsh, 1992). These are referred to as either the academic or developmental perspective. The academic perspective considers extracurricular activities as purely leisure and not part of the purpose of schools. The developmental perspective considers extracurricular activities necessary to the total development of the student in today's schools (Holland & Andre, 1987).

Educators who believe in the developmental perspective see activities as an extension of the educational program. Furthermore, participation in these activities is positively associated with many student characteristics. Activities allow students to develop skills such as leadership, sportsmanship, self-discipline, self-confidence, and the ability to handle competitive conditions. Participation is associated with higher levels of self-esteem (Marsh, 1992; McNamara, 1985; Simeroth, 1987). Participation is also related to lower delinquency rates (Marsh, 1992; Newman, 1991). Howley and Huang (1991) found that extracurricular activity across different schools exhibited a positive correlation on academic achievement.

McNamara (1985) concluded in his study that students benefit academically if they participated in high, moderate, or low numbers of extracurricular activity. Extracurricular activities offer an opportunity to interact in ways that allow the previously mentioned skills to develop. The developmental professionals believe that many of these skills would be impossible or very difficult to develop in a classroom setting.

Marsh (1992) stated:

According to different theoretical perspectives, extracurricular activity participation may be posited to (a) divert attention from academic pursuits, as evidenced by its negative effects on narrowly defined academic goals; (b) have little or no effect on academic outcomes but contribute to desirable nonacademic outcomes; or (c) have positive effects on nonacademic outcomes and facilitate academic growth, perhaps indirectly, as well. (p. 553)

According to Marsh (1992), extracurricular activities may have both positive and negative effect on students' academic growth. Based on this statement, Jordan and Nettles (2000) referred to structured after-school activities which have been associated with higher educational outcomes. Jordan and Nettles (2000), in their analysis of data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988, found that student participation in structured activities, religious activities, and time with adults during 10th grade had a significant positive effect on educational outcomes for those same students in 12th grade. Conversely, students who spent more unstructured time were at greater risk of negative educational outcomes. The authors provided a model reflecting that in addition to student characteristics and factors inherent in the school context, the investments students make during their off hours in themselves and in their community affects their investment in schooling and, consequently, their performance in school. It is important to note that the extracurricular activities examined in the study were broad-based, and did not specifically included homework assistance programs.

Cosden, Morrison, Albanese, & Macias (2001, cited in Jogovic, 2011) summarized the outcomes of 10 studies on structured after-school programs that offered students assistance with homework and other academic needs. Nearly all of the studies focused on children considered at risk for school failure as a result of low income, limited familial resources, and/ or poor grades. Further, these after-school programs offered a broad range of activities in addition to academic support (Beck, 1999; Halpern, 1992; Posner &Vandell, 1999). While the nature of the academic support varied, each program provided children with structure and adult contact. The full impact of these programs on the student's academic performance appeared to be combined by other child and teacher factors, such as increases in the child's self-esteem and school bonding and changes in teacher impressions regarding the effort and abilities of the students.

In a comprehensive study, Cooper, Valentine, Nye, & Lindsay (1999) also examined the relation between after-school activities and academic achievement as measured by standardized tests and teacher-assigned grades among students in grades 6 through 12. Using a questionnaire, adolescents reported approximately how much time they spent on homework, working at a job, extracurricular activities, structured groups outside of school, and watching television. Findings revealed that more time in extracurricular activities and less time in jobs and watching television were associated with higher test scores and grades. In addition, more time on homework was associated with better grades.

In another study, both Beck (1999) and Halpern (1992) conducted qualitative evaluations of the dynamics of large, urban after-school programs. Beck (1999) studied a program that was suitable for youth from kindergarten through 12th grade. The author reported that the factors crucial to the program's success were the provision of a structured time and location for doing homework and instructional support. Beck (1999) suggested that academic outcomes of this program were conflated by changes in the student's self-confidence as well as changes in teacher impressions of the student's endeavors.

Halpern (1992) conducted a qualitative evaluation of a program that provided after-school homework assistance to younger children (5-12 years old). Similar to Beck (1999), Halpern (1992) found that participation gave students greater confidence in their abilities and provided an opportunity to develop positive, school-related, adult attachments. Although the findings of these two studies were descriptive and did not identify causal relationships between homework completion and academic performance, they suggested that homework completion can affect students' perceptions of themselves and teachers' expectations of students in meaningful ways.

In a comprehensive study of 400 elementary school children in several different after-school programs, Ross et al. (1992) provided support for using these programs to build self-esteem, while also finding that self-esteem can be a predictor of academic performance. The researchers found that participation in an after-school program designed to build self-esteem had positive effects on standardized test scores in math and reading, while receiving extended school time to complete homework did not have the same positive effects on self-esteem or achievement. These findings strengthen the idea that after-school academic support does the greatest achievement when it enhances the students' perceptions that they can be successful at school.

Several other studies (e.g., Morrison et al., 2000) have found that after-school academic tutoring or homework assistance may not result in an improvement in academic performance, but, rather, prevent a decline in performance that is evidenced by many at-risk youth. The extracurricular activities such as watching were connected to cognitive development of students (Shin, 2004). The amount and quality of television viewing and family involvement were not the only influences of helping at risk students. The effects of music and sports were also influential in their relation to the prevention of this decline.

Morrison et al. (2000) studied 350 at-risk students, half of whom participated in an after-school program that provided homework assistance, tutoring, and cultural enrichment activities. They found after 1 year students in the program maintained their initial levels of school bonding and teacher ratings of student behavior, while some of students who did not participate in the program showed decreases on these measures over the same period of time.

Ross et al. (1992) evaluated an after-school tutoring program serving low-income African American students. After 2 years, participants did not show significant increases in grades, but students who were not in the program showed a significant grade decrease. Together, these studies indicate that after-school academic support may play a protective role by helping to prevent a loss of school engagement even if it doesn't result in higher levels of functioning and academic success.

Based on the concept of extracurricular activities, The Gevirtz Homework Project (Cosden, Morrison, Albanese, & Macias, 2001) was established as an after school program. It differed from other previously reviewed after-school assistance programs in that it included students who were not at risk for school failure. All fourth-grade students in three participating schools were engaged in the project, with students randomly assigned to treatment (Homework Project) and non-treatment after homogenizing them into high, medium, and low achievement groups at school. Students were also homogenized on the basis of ethnicity and English proficiency, with equal numbers assigned to the homework project and to the non-treatment control group. The program was designed to provide students with homework assistance and to help them learn study skills. Students attended the program 2-3 times a week over a period of 3 years (Grades 4-6); although during the specified time the lack of attendance of some members in the treatment group was observed. All students in the Homework Project and the non-treatment control group were assessed at the beginning and end of each grade. Measures included students' ratings of their impressions of school belonging, teacher ratings of student behavior, student grades, and standardized test scores from the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT-9).

At the end of sixth grade, teachers rated English language learner participants in the homework project higher in academic effort and study skills than English language learners in the control group. This was not the case for students who were proficient in English. That is, students with English proficiency in the treatment and control groups had similar teacher ratings and academic outcomes at the end of the 3-year project. Further, there was higher overall attrition from the treatment group for English proficient students. It appeared that regular attendance in the Homework Project in fourth grade helped students develop study skills, which they were able to use in later years. This was supported by student interviews conducted as part of the process evaluation (Brown & Herrity, 2001). In particular, the investigators found that students who benefited the most from the Project were those who learned to do homework right after coming home from school, while children who benefited least did not. For example, one child stated, "Most of the time I start my homework right away (after school). I didn't do this in third grade. I guess I got in the habit from the Homework Project" (Brown & Herrity, 2001, p. 8).

Some other studies, reported on the low dropout rate of students in school by doing the extracurricular activities (Cooper, Valentine, Nye, & Lindsey, 1999; Gerber, 1996; Jordan, 2000; Mahoney & Cairns, 1997). These studies typically assessed involvement in non-academic activities, most of which occurred after school hours. Rather than divert students from meeting their academic goals, studies found that students engaged in extracurricular activities--including sports, service clubs, and art activities--were less likely to drop out (Mahoney & Cairns, 1997) and more likely to have high academic achievement (Gerber, 1996).

Of particular importance, students at risk for school failure appeared to benefit even more from participation in extracurricular activities than do children who were normal achievers. Most researchers believed that involvement in extracurricular activities had an indirect impact on achievement by increasing connectedness to the school and by helping to build student strengths, thereby increasing self-esteem and positive social networks. Mahoney and Cairns (1997) noted that while supportive academic programs "focus on the deficits of students," involvement in high interest, non-academic activities "provides a gateway into conventional social networks ... through the maintenance and enhancement of positive characteristics of the individual that strengthen the student-school connection" (p. 248).

2.2.1. Social Effect of Extracurricular Activities

With regard to the importance of the extracurricular activities, a great body of research has been done to evaluate the social aspects of these activities on the development of students' personal and interpersonal characteristics and the ultimate result in language proficiency (Astin, 1985; Tinto, 1993; Pascarella &Terenzini, 2005).

Some researchers focused on the affective side of extracurricular activities. One study found that adolescents who participated in extracurricular activities reported higher grades, more positive attitudes toward school, and higher academic aspirations (Darling, Caldwell, & Smith, 2005). Darling, et al (2005) conducted a longitudinal study concerning extracurricular activities and their effect on various aspects of development, including academic performance. A survey containing a list of twenty different extracurricular activities was distributed to students; they were asked to check which extracurricular activities they participated in that year. Demographic questions, such as their favorite activity, gender, and ethnicity were asked in order to take the social factors and influences into account when calculating the results. The students were also asked what their academic goals were and their grade point average (GPA). The results indicated that the students who participated in school-based extracurricular activities had higher grades, higher academic aspirations, and better academic attitudes than those who were not involved in extracurricular activities at all.

McNeal (1995) also attributed the low rate of school drop outs to the affective aspect of extracurricular activities. The outcome of his research was observed primarily among students who were at highest risk for dropout. The association between reduced rates of early school dropout and extracurricular involvement differed according to the competence of the individual. For students in the risk clusters, the associated reduction in dropout was stronger compared with more competent students. For students whose prior commitment to the school and its values had been marginal, such participation provided an opportunity to create a positive and voluntary connection to the educational institution. Unlike optional procedures (e.g., school dropout prevention programs, remedial education), which focused on the deficits of students, extracurricular activities can provide a path into the conventional social networks while, concurrently, promoting individual interests, achievements, and goals (Eder, 1985; Kinney, 1993; McNeal, 1995). Thus, school dropout could be effectively decreased through the maintenance and enhancement of positive characteristics of the individual which intensified the student-school connection.

Kinney (1993) commented that the associated reduction in school dropout was greater during early high school. One explanation is that the increased diversity of activities offered in high school provided adolescents more opportunity for activity participation suited to their interest-ability (Kinney, 1993). The range of activities included in the domains that risk students most often participated (athletics, fine arts, and vocational) increased during high school, as did their participation in these areas. Also many activities highlighted in yearbooks required expertise in particular domains (e.g., music, sports, languages, mathematics, science), some school activities required minimal academic performance in order to be eligible for participation in them. Furthermore, socioeconomic status, although not a general barrier to participation, could influence the types of activities students would choose to participate and the attainment of status within those activities was crucial for students (Coleman, 1961, cited in Jordan, 2000). Thus, the effect could be stronger in high school because participation increases as a result of greater opportunity.

In an exhaustive survey, Kinney (1993) referred to North American public secondary schools as unique educational places which offer a range of pursuits in classroom and beyond. In addition to offering a broad academic curriculum, middle schools and high schools encourage students to participate in various extracurricular activities; these include organized sports, special-interest academic pursuits, vocational clubs, supervised student government, newspapers, yearbooks, and various other activities. Extracurricular activities differ from standard courses in American school because they are optional, ungraded, and are usually carried out outside the school day in school. The researcher mentioned that although these activities are extra to the curriculum, they are closely linked to academic achievement and performance (e.g., math club, French club, national honor society). He concluded that the participation in this kind of context would enhance learning instruction. For example, participation could raise an individual's status within the school, extend her or his social affiliations in the school community (Csikszentmihalyi, Rathunde, & Whalen, 1993; Eder, 1985; Eder & Parker, 1987; Kinney, 1993), or enable both to occur. The impact would be to make school a more meaningful and attractive experience for students who have experienced few successes in academic subjects.

An overview of the educational and psychological literature on the effects of extracurricular activities indicates, curiously, that only subtle attention has been given to the effects of extracurricular activities for marginal students (e.g., Brown, 1988; Holland & Andre, 1987). In contrast, a large amount of work has concentrated on the role of extracurricular activities for the smartest and the most privileged students. Specifically, (a) activities and positions of leadership may indicate only a small number of individuals (Brabd, 1987; Hollingshead, 1949, cited in Broh, 2002; Cooper, et al, 1999), (b) students of high socioeconomic class tend to report more engagement than lower class students and show greater leadership and talent within these activities (Csikszentmihalyi, Rathunde, & Whalen, 1993; Hollingshead, 1949, in Broh, 2002), (c) girls tend to participate in more activities than boys (Coleman, 1961; Hollingshead, 1949; Jacobs & Chase, 1989 all cited in Broh, 2002), (d) those individuals who participate in interesting activities tend to be popular with peers, are school leaders, and may be influential in conducting the status norms of the school social system (Coleman, 1961, cited in Broh, 2002; Eder, 1985; Eder & Parker, 1987; Kinney, 1993), and (e) participation in academically linked activities is connected with somewhat higher levels of academic performance and educational attainment (Brown, Day & Jones,1983; Marsh, 1992; McNeal, 1995; Shephard, 1996).

Extracurricular activities also may facilitate the development of qualities such as determination and perseverance. Individuals with these characteristics may be less likely to surrender when they face challenging tasks at school, which also may explain the researchers found an association between extracurricular activities and school self-esteem (Marsh, 1992).

2.2.2. Formal and Informal Extracurricular Activities

Some researchers have divided extracurricular activities into informal and formal activities. The formal activities include activities which are relatively structured, such as participating in athletics or learning to play a musical instrument. Informal activities, on the other hand, also known as leisure activities, include less structured activities, such as watching television. Some literature on leisure studies has suggested that formal and informal activity settings have different influences on motivation and feelings of competence (Guest & Schneider, 2003). One study found "that more time in leisure activities was related to poorer academic grades, poorer work habits, and poorer emotional adjustments," while more time in "structured groups and less time watching TV were associated with higher test scores and school grades" (Marsh & Kleitman, 2002, p.5).

Structured activities outside of school may also facilitate the development of social ties (Eccles & Barber, 1999; Larson, 1994). Time in organized activities, for example, may bring youth into contact with peers and adults who share their interests. Interactions with well-adjusted peers who share similar goals and aspirations, in turn, can motivate youth to do well in school and cause interest in future educational and occupational pursuits (Jordan & Nettles, 2000).

Jordan and Nettles (2000) also used broader conceptualizations of youth's time outside of school among high school students and found that students who spent more time in structured activities (e.g., youth groups, sports) as well as students who spent more time alone in skill-building activities (e.g., computers, hobbies, reading) had higher math and science achievement.

Schreiber and Chambers (2002) categorized adolescents' after-school activities as in- or out-of school, academic or nonacademic, and organized or unorganized. Focusing on results for eighth grade African American adolescents, these researchers found that participation in out-of-school, nonacademic, organized activities (e.g., neighborhood clubs, nonschool team sports) was negatively related to math achievement, and participation in out-of-school, academic, unorganized activities (e.g., homework) was positively related to math achievement. These findings are consistent with theories about the benefits of participation in structured activities, which claim that such activities provide adolescents with opportunities to learn and develop skills (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Larson &Verma, 1999). In addition to specific skills, participating in sports and clubs may facilitate learning organizational, planning, and time management skills that are important for school success. Furthermore, participation may have implications for the "self-system" (Holland & Andre, 1987). For example, participating on a sports team may promote self-confidence. Also students learn the attitude of respect toward their counterparts. They try to tie up their good school relationships and continue their friendships outside of the context of school. The feeling of self efficacy can also be developed within individuals as they see themselves supporters of other fellow students and the leaders of the groups. Leadership qualities are the special personal traits that their root can be strengthened within school days.

2.2.3. Academic Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities that focus on academic areas include the school newspaper, quiz team, science club, school government, and debate team or journalism club. Each of these activities promotes academic excellence and provides students with an opportunity to expand their content knowledge outside the classroom (Linder, 1999). While building leadership skills, students will also learn the advantages of technical writing, keeping and meeting deadlines and public speaking. Students will also have opportunities to broaden their content knowledge about unfamiliar subjects by conducting research in preparation for debates or academic competitions (Mahoney & Cairns, 1997).

Regarding the role of extracurricular activities for ESL/EFL students, Al-Ansari (2000) confirmed the previous research that sheltered curricular exposure to the target language through English-medium instruction would seem intuitively to be a qualitatively different and potentially much richer source of intake than other, less sheltered kinds of exposure, especially as far as the development of academic proficiency in the target language is concerned (Krashen 1982; Wigzell 1983; Wesche & Ready 1985). ). In order to verify this impression, Al-Ansari (2000) carried out a study in a sample of Bahraini university students.

He gave the students two types of questionnaire. The first part of the questionnaire was designed to measure the amount of extra-curricular contact and the second part the amount of curricular contact through English-medium instruction in subjects other than English language.  For the first part of the questionnaire, a set of questions, each with three alternative responses, was formulated to measure the frequency/duration of each of the modes of contact: Extra-curricular listening activities included watching English videos, films and TV shows, listening to English programs on the radio. Listening activities consisted of both academic and nonacademic extracurricular activities. The next category was out-of-class speaking activities with various categories of competent English speakers such as parents, teachers, fellow-students and others, both on and off campus. Like the previous category, this one also included both academic and nonacademic extracurricular activities. The third classification was reading activities involving different kinds of reading materials in English such as newspapers and magazines, stories, non-fictional material other than course-related material. The focus of this category was mainly nonacademic materials. Next item was social interaction with the target language community within Bahrain in places such as home, in clubs, recreation centers and other locations. Here the emphasis was mostly on nonacademic activities. The next part of the questionnaire belonged to questions regarding contact hours of English-medium instruction per week.

The findings with regard to extra-curricular contact had different implications for different categories of learners. As far as the average achievers were concerned, the implications were clear: in order to improve their proficiency level, they need to be more engaged in various extra-curricular activities in the target language, especially listening and speaking activities.

The results obtained for high achievers and underachievers, however, suggested that contact with the language outside the classroom was not a solution that would guarantee further linguistic development at all levels of attainment. With regard to the underachievers or false beginners, the findings were consistent with two possible inferences: either their level of proficiency was too low for them to derive any benefit from the kind of extra-curricular exposure they got to the language, which would suggest that much of the input they received was largely incomprehensible, or they did not have the necessary cognitive and verbal characteristics to derive the kind of benefit from their exposure that would be reflected in higher scores in an academically biased proficiency test

Much of what has emerged from the Al-Ansari's (2000) study supported Krashen's (1982) views. Central to his main thesis is the claim that certain linguistic environments and certain kinds of linguistic activity are a richer source of intake than others. This claim was proved by Al-Ansari's (2000) findings, which presented that sheltered curricular exposure correlates more consistently with attained levels of proficiency than unsheltered extra-curricular exposure.

In another study, Dheram and Rani (2007) carried out a study on how the newspaper as an academic extracurricular activity could be used for promoting learner autonomy in an international classroom with varying levels of English proficiency. It highlighted how the authentic use of the language helped the ESL/EFL teacher turn the newspaper into a powerful tool for encouraging reflections on its relevance to language learning. Similarly, the activities demonstrated how the students' imaginative and creative potential could be used for enthusiastic interaction in the class. In this study, the researchers used the English newspaper in a multi-national, multi-cultural, and multi lingual classroom.  While some of the students in the researchers' classes were comfortable with English, the others knew very little English. Most of them were from the diplomatic corps, some civil servants, and some English teachers.  The youngest student was 26 years old, while the oldest was 59. The purpose for this research was to encourage students to appreciate the newspaper as a rich source for learning the language and reading. Then the researchers asked the students the reasons for reading the newspaper. They categorized the responses of the students. The responses were as the following list:

know what is happening currently

know more words to use

new use of the old words

coinage / making new words

learn difficult words which lead to the dictionary

improve reading and writing 

After doing the research, the researchers noticed the enthusiasm of the students in reading the newspaper. So they let the students borrow some newspapers from their classmates and read them at home or after the time of the class at school as an extracurricular activity. Then the researchers asked the students to write a brief note on any news from their countries that they would like to share with others and put it on the notice board. The researchers concluded that this method highlighted students' concerns, created a discussion forum, and helped perspectives emerge.

2.2.4 Homework Writing Program

One of the out-of- class activities that takes most of learners' time is devoted to the role of homework needs to be considered in connection to the developmental needs of children. Children differ in their out-of-class experiences; some of them spend a lot of time for unstructured activities and some of them are involved in multiple extra-curricular activities with little time for unstructured ones.

Halpern (1992) summarized the outcomes of 10 studies on structured out-of- class programs that offer learners' assistance with homework and other academic needs. Nearly all of the studies focused on children considered at risk for school failure as a result of low income, limited familial resources, and/ or poor grades. Further, these after-school programs offered a broad range of activities in addition to academic support (Beck, 1999; Hansen, 1999; Posner & Vandell, 1999). These programs influence the student's academic performance in such a way that result in increasing the child's self-esteem and school bonding and changes in teacher perceptions regarding the effort and capabilities of the student.

However, several other studies (e.g., Morrison, Storino, Robertson, Weissglass, & Dondero, 2000; Tarnopolsky, 2000) have found that out-of-class academic tutoring or homework assistance may not result in an improvement in academic performance, but, rather, prevent a decline in performance that is evidenced by many at-risk youth. Tucker et al. (1995) evaluated an after-school tutoring program serving low-income African American students. After 2 years, participants did not show significant increases in grades, but learners who were not in the program showed a significant grade decrease. In sum, these studies indicate that after-school academic support may play a protective role by helping to prevent a loss of school engagement even if it doesn't result in higher levels of functioning.

2.3. Writing Skill in the EFL/ESL Context

Writing is not only a mirror of one's thought but it contributes newness to established information (Weigle, 2002). Brooks & Grundy (1998) define writing as a tool to communicate ideas in a target language. Hyland (2003) considers writing as a visual print coherently knitted into structured language. Kashiwagi (2007) suggests that writing could be the most difficult skill to teach among the four activities―listening, speaking, reading, and writing―because writing produces tangible records that allow countless revisions and consist of both technical accuracy and artistic fluency. Writing also can be the most time consuming activity to teach. It is extremely tempting for teachers to fall into what Corbett (1996) refers to as "the lazy way of teaching writing" (p.8).

The concept and the approaches to writing skills have undertaken radical revolution during the recent years. Therefore a brief review of the evolution of the concept of writing may be a useful effort in order to provide insights for both language instructors and scholars to apply new approaches in EFL/ESL setting.

2.3.1. An Overview of Writing

For long writing as an independent skill had been downgraded in the practice of language teaching and pageboy. The roots of this ignorance traces back to the heydays of audiolingual method. According to Raimes (1983), since Charles Fries introduced an oral approach in 1945, the audiolingual method of second language teaching had strongly influenced second language learning in the 1950s and early 1960s. Since the appearance of this approach, spoken language continues to be emphasized in English learning and teaching. Rivers (1981) explained that this method laid stress on developing listening and speaking skills by listening to utterances and repeating them as fast as native speakers uttered them. This approach holds that people normally learn their languages in a spoken form rather than in written form; therefore, quite naturally, listening and speaking were placed before reading and writing. According to this view of language teaching, it is reasonable to assume that the concept underlying this approach is that speech was dominant, and writing was regarded as a secondary agenda and not a goal of language learning. Widdowson (1990) eloquently states as follows:  

Early developments in discourse analysis tend focus attention on spoken language, on the management of talk and the speech acts of conventional utterances. This preference may in art be attributed to the orthodox linguistic belief in the primacy of speech. Old tough habits die hard. Pedagogy too has tended to the same belief, even to the extent of sometimes supposing that communicative language teaching involved only the development of the ability to converse-as if written language was no really authentic communication. (p.111)

Without a doubt, the teaching of speaking was dominant before the 1960s, and it still affects the view of writing in English learning. From the historical standpoint of writing, the 1960s have been considered a revolutionary age because writing began to be one of the objects of researchers and teachers attention; yet it led to the disciplinary division between composition studies and ESL writing (Matsuda, 1999).

Silva and Matsuda (2002) pointed out that writing was a means of recording students' speech and a support for the learning of speech because the technology for sound recording had not fully developed before the 1960s. During the 1960s, however, with the growth of ESL students in American universities, writing got much more attention because it was necessary to become familiar with the form of writing and how to write ideas beyond the word and sentence level. Furthermore, composition studies were developed in the U.S.A. and the audio-lingual approach fell at that time.

Contrary to this crucial change, as noted by Matsuda (2005), many teachers of L1 composition were troubled with ESL students because they were not willing to change their style of teaching grammatical and syntactic forms and did not know how to adjust to this new demand for speaking instruction. In order to solve this problem, ESL/EFL specialists who played a part in ESL/EFL writing, attempted to help L1 composition teachers figure out how to teach writing in ESL classes. As a result of this ESL/EFL issue, the growth of composition studies and the popularity of second language writing, led to the separation of composition studies and ESL/EFL writing. Due to this separation, composition specialists lacked the interest in and enthusiasm for instructing ESL/EFL writers, and ESL/EFL specialists had to be concerned with the of ESL/EFL writing.

The tendency to neglect writing in ESL/EFL has continued even after the communicative approach was developed. Since the communicative approach was introduced into the field of ESL/EFL, communicative language teaching has been praised for its emphasis on fluency rather than on accuracy. Yet, at the same time, it encountered much criticism because the systematic learning tended to be underestimated (Tarnopolsky, 2000). However, in the relatively short history of the communicative approach, the importance of writing has not been acknowledged because the communicative approach focuses very precisely on speaking and listening. For instance, although Littlewood (1981), in his book Communicative Language Teaching, does not entirely ignore communication through written mode, he identifies learners as speakers and describes communication mostly as oral activities such as discussions and role-playing. Takahashi (1995) suggests that since the term communication is associated for many people with oral communication such as speaking and listening, communication in the written mode tend to be belittled.

Johnson (2000) also argues that communication has become a surprising word. His assertion must be taken seriously when considering the rapid increase of departments and classes with the name of English Communication because, as he states, the emphasis placed on communication often replaces systematic learning activities with entertaining communicative activities. Writing e-mails would be a meaningful and motivational activity for students to engage in and learn writing; yet, if the activity is undertaken without clear instruction and pedagogical purpose, it becomes simply time filler in the curriculum. As Takahashi (1995) asserts, when undertaking communicative language teaching, teachers must set specific tasks and keep control over classes; otherwise, class activities will lose their pedagogical essence and become mere entertaining games.

Even though writing is believed to be an important communicative activity, writing courses based on the communication approach have not been systematically developed as a theory or a method of ESL/EFL writing, and, regrettably, the idea of writing as an important communicative skill has not been put into practice as much as it should have (Tarnopolsky, 2000).

In light of teaching writing to students, it is crucial that which teaching approaches to be used in the language. The choice of teaching approach and strategies in the curriculum depends importantly on how the teachers view or define the term writing and evaluate the theories related to ESL/EFL writing. According to Oxford (1990), strategies can "pave the way toward greater proficiency, learner autonomy, and self-regulation" (p. 372). Therefore, it is necessary to explore clear classification of ESL/EFL writing strategies from theoretic point of view so that ESL/EFL learners can easily facilitate their writing. However, as Oxford (1990) noted, "exactly how many strategies are available to learners to assist them in L2 learning and how these strategies should be classified are open to debate" ( p. 368). Victori (1995) found large classifications of writing strategies and processes which were termed with different labels. But few of these classifications have been discussed from a theoretic vantage point. Therefore, in the following section a brief discussion about the theories in teaching writing is provided.

2.3.2. Theories Related to ESL/EFL Writing

In the study of ESL writing history, Silva (1990) nearly divided ESL/EFL writing instruction into four stages distinguished by the four most influential approaches: the controlled approach, the current-traditional rhetoric approach, the process approach and the social approach.

The first stage was dominated by the controlled or guided approach which was under the influence of structural linguistics and behaviorist psychology and audio-lingual theory. As explained by Richards (1990), the view of writing as a product derives from the audio-lingual theory. Writing is seen as a "written form of spoken language" and writing serves to reinforce speech, through the stress of the mastery of grammatical and syntactic forms. The term guided or product approach itself reflects the focus on the students 'ability to produce correct texts. Thus, the correct sentence structure is an essential component of writing and grammatical skills receive considerable emphasis.

This approach saw learning to write as an exercise in habit formation and rote learning. Students were taught to practice sentence patterns and vocabulary by means of writing. In controlled composition, writing is regarded essentially as reinforcement for oral habits and as a secondary concern (Silva & Matsuda, 2002). Accuracy is the primary concern, and students are expected to adjust to the systematic process of English writing. In this approach, arrangement of sentences is the key element in effective writing, which means that following particular patterns is essential and it establishes certain formulas of writing, presupposing that adopting right ways of writing makes students good writers. The major approach in the second stage of ESL/EFL writing instruction was the current-traditional rhetoric approach with the influence of Kaplan's theory of contrastive rhetoric. It considered learning to write as locating and internalizing patterns of organization. The main approach in the third stage of ESL/EFL writing teaching was the process approach. According to this approach, learning to write was developing efficient and appropriate writing strategies. In the process approach, the content of writing is important. The measurement of successful writing depends on whether one can convey the message or not. The view of writing as a process emerges as a result of the limitations of a product and controlled approach as the product approach focuses on ends rather than means, while ignoring how students write or create their writing that has form and structure. Thus, with the product approach the composing processes of good writers are ignored (Richards, 1990).

Regarding the views of writing, Lindermann (1995), in her article on "Three Views of English 101," says that each view, whether as a process or product, is right for the person who holds it and each view has its own history, its own theory of language, its own notion about how students learn, and its own implications. In addition, regarding the same topic, Nunan (1991) says that in the "product-oriented approach" the teachers focus on the "end result" or the written paper of the students. In the classroom of the product-oriented writing, students are engaged in such activities as imitating, copying and transforming models of correct language. Students are believed to have to start at a small unit of grammar and sentence writing in order to be successful at the paragraph level.

While in the process approach, he points out that the teachers focus more on such various classroom activities as idea gathering, group work, and conferencing which are presumably important elements that a writer has to go through when writing.

The social approach in the fourth stage considered that learning to write was part of becoming socialized to the discourse community - understanding what is expected and trying to approximate it.

In fact, the four approaches in these four stages of ESL/EFL writing instruction are corresponded to four important theories related to ESL/EFL writing (Silva, 1990). They are Contrastive Rhetoric Theory, Cognitive Development Theory, Communication Theory and Social Constructionist Theory. Among these theories, it is obvious that contrastive rhetoric theory, cognitive developmental theory and social constructionist theory correspond with the current rhetoric approach, the process approach and the social approach of ESL writing instruction respectively. Furthermore, ESL/EFL writing as a means of communication is naturally influenced by communication theory. Thus, the communication theory is reflected in all these four stages of ESL writing instruction. In the following section, the classification of ESL/EFL writing theories based on Silva (1990) categorization is provided.

2.3.2.1 Contrastive Rhetoric Theory

Contrastive rhetoric theory is proposed by Kaplan (1966) in his Cultural Thought Patterns in Intercultural Communication. Kaplan (2001) was the first to examine how different thought patterns appear in writings of different cultures. According to Kaplan (1966), a native English writer "expects as an integral part of their communication is a sequence that is dominantly linear in its development" (p.13).

Research in contrastive rhetoric has surveyed the formal disparities between texts written by native and non-native speakers of English, and these textual differences have been related to cultural differences in rhetorical expectations and conventions. Following Kaplan, various studies have been undertaken to offer insight into different thought patterns across cultures (Connor, 1996; Eggington, 1987). Hinds (1987)'s article is one of the most notable studies on the Japanese written mode of communication. He argues that, in the Japanese culture, readers are expected to understand the writers 'message, whereas native English writers feel greater responsibility to the reader.

Connor (2002) has reviewed the studies of contrastive rhetoric during the past 30 years and identified four domains of its investigation. These areas are: (1) contrastive text linguistic studies: examine, compare, and contrast how texts are molded and construed in different languages and cultures using methods of written discourse analysis; (2) studies of writing as cultural and educational activity: investigate literacy development on L1 language and culture and examine the potential effects on the development of L2 literacy; (3) classroom-based contrastive studies: examine cross-cultural patterns in process writing, collaborative revisions, and student-teacher interactions. (4) genre-specific investigations: are applied to academic and professional writing.

However, since its advent, contrastive rhetoric theory has met numerous criticisms for its reductionist, deterministic, prescriptive, and essentialist orientation (Leki, 1991). At the same time, studies of contrastive rhetoric have gathered criticism for making cultural stereotypes, simplifying complex writing styles, and domesticating English writing style in different cultures (Panetta, 2001; Mao, 2003). In fact, Kaplan himself has been modifying his first assertion on his thought pattern (Kaplan, 2001).

Kubota and Lehner (2004) establish critical contrastive rhetoric by incorporating post-structuralist, post-colonial, and post-modern critiques of language and culture. They redefine cultural differences in rhetoric from such perspectives as relations of power, discursive construction of knowledge, colonial construction of cultural dichotomies, and rhetorical plurality brought about by cultural combinations. This broadens the paradigm of contrastive rhetoric theory.

Even with so many criticisms for several years, contrastive rhetoric has played a very important role in ESL writing classroom (Silva, 1990). Specifically, in 1990s the field experienced a paradigm shift and that "broader definition that considers cognitive and socio-cultural variables of writing… have been substituted for a purely linguistic framework" (Connor, 1996, p. 18). It is apparent that, the central concern of contrastive rhetoric theory is the logical construction and arrangement of discourse forms. As Silva (1990) noted, the elements of paragraphs such as topic sentences, support sentences, concluding sentences, and transitions as well as various options for its development such as illustration, exemplification, comparison, contrast, partition, classification, definition, causal analysis are attended in contrastive rhetoric theory.

2.3.2.2. Cognitive Development Theory

Cognitive development theory, which emerged in Europe in the eighteenth century, was related to the nature of knowledge and with the structures and processes by which it is acquired (Silva, 1990). Perhaps the most obvious contribution of cognitive-processing theory is the research direction leading to study of writing as process of observations of writers in the act of composing making the options and decisions that develop the text ahead (Kennedy, 1998). In English composition studies, Flower and Hayes's model (1981) and Bereiter and Scardamalia's model (1987) are valuable to mention because they directly influence ESL writing research.

Flower and Hayes (1981) viewed English writing as a recursive process in which planning, generating, translating, and editing need to be manipulated. However, this model has been criticized by Bereiter and Scardamalia (1987) with regard to its methodology and assumption. Methodologically it has been found to be rather limited since it relied only on equality in protocol data. Hayes and Flower's model assumes there is a single writing process for all writers. According to it, skilled writers do the same things as novice writers. Thus, this model has not been able to account for the differences between good and poor writers.

On the contrary, Bereiter and Scardamalia (1987) propose two models of writing: knowledge telling model for novice writers and knowledge transformation model for expert writers. The knowledge-telling model is a task utilizing model and does not involve any complex problem-solving activities. In contrast, the knowledge transforming model is a problem-solving model that needs the writers to engage in constant reflective processes between the content problem aspect and the rhetorical problem aspect. Bereiter and Scardamalia (1987) found that novice writers who employed the knowledge-telling model of writing revised occasionally while mature writers did general revisions that involved transformations of information. However, this theory also has some limitations. One problem that has been pointed out by Flower (1994) is that the theory does not seem to consider the influence of context on writing. That is, it is totally cognitive in nature and does not give credit to the social factors involved in writing. Another problem is that it is not clear whether and when a writer can develop the more advanced knowledge transforming process of writing.

Atkinson (2003) proposed the notion of "post-process" as an appropriate basis on which to investigate the complex activity of ESL writing in its full range of socio-cognitive context, dynamism, diversity, and implications. In other words, the exploration of writers' meta-cognitive and cognitive knowledge is required in this theory. According to Carson and Longhini (2002), meta-cognitive strategies are defined as strategies that writers use to control writing process consciously and cognitive strategies are those writers use to implement actual writing actions.

2.3.2.2.1. Product vs. Process Orientation Pedagogy

Based on Contrastive Rhetoric Theory and Cognitive Development Theory two independent pedagogies were applied in ESL/EFL classes. For decades, the teaching of writing at the tertiary level has been text-centered. Based on Contrastive Rhetoric theory, the emphasis of this pedagogy is on "style, organization, and correctness" (Hairston 1982). Writing topics are assigned by teachers and the composing process is linear. Although teachers "complain and brag about how much time they spend meticulously marking each paper, they feel frustrated to see that "many of their students improve so little despite their time and effort" (Hairston 1982).

A writing pedagogy that touches the textual orientation of any passages would work to actively develop the construction of rhetorical schemata in students which relates to those of English-speaking readers. A difference, then, between such pedagogy and one less likely to be interested in contrastive rhetoric findings, a process orientation, would center on the approach taken for the development of schemata. A textual orientation suggests that schemata can be directly taught while a process orientation would hope to develop the construction of schemata indirectly, perhaps through student contact with target language or target discourse community readings (Leki, 1991). Matsuda (1998) refers mentioned that text-based approaches hold a mechanical view of the writer and the writer creates a text by reproducing the patterns made by his or her linguistic, cultural or educational background. In such a view, the writer does not take an active role in learning, but rather continues to be influenced by his or her past learning experience. Leki (1991), mentioned that L2 writers, in this way, were little more than the products of a static culture.

Process pedagogy appears to presume that schemata are or can be grasped unconsciously, perhaps in somewhat the same way as comprehensible input is thought to promote acquisition of grammatical forms (Krashen, 1982). In a process-oriented classroom, if L2 readings are used, they do not typically serve as examples of successful target language communication but rather as sources for ideas or benchmarks for personal interactions and reactions. Their content is to be evaluated against personal experience.

This is not to say that process pedagogy overlooks structure, but that the focus of such a writing course would emphasize the structure of the student's evolving text rather than the structure of an outside text (Leki, 1991). In the same line, a textual orientation does not require students to ignore content but rather might attempt to discover how structures promote meaning in texts -- by comparing them, analyzing them, looking for ways in which they duplicate each other, trying to uncover patterns and variations on patterns, patterns which develop meaning (Kaplan, 2001).

It should be clear that the distinction between a process orientation and a textual orientation in a writing pedagogy is not the simple distinction between form and content. Both attempt to create appropriate text schemata in writing students, both work to trigger students into the target discourse community, and both focus on the discovery of meaning - but in different ways (Leki, 1991). One is not innately more prescriptive than the other, but each draws its ability to elevate the student writer's load from a different source: one from idea exploration and the exploitation of students' own cognitive resources, the other from an exploration of how other writers have solved meaning problems and from a recognition that different cultures have developed different ways of solving those problems.

2.3.2.3. Communication Theory

Communication theory highlights the social and political purposes of discourse rituals where interpersonal communication is based in beliefs about individualism and independent interaction in society and investigates multiple levels of discourse (economic, social, material, institutional, and cultural) (Kennedy, 1998). To connect communication theories with composition studies, discourse is placed at the center of attention. According to communication theories, different discourses are used for different communicative purposes (Silva, 1990). Therefore, writing occurs in many different forms. Cooper and Odell (1977) have pointed to many styles of written discourses such as dramatic writing, personal writing, reporting, research, academic writing, fiction, poetry, business writing, and technical writing. As Grabe and Kaplan (1996) pointed out, academic writing needs to combine "structural sentence units into a more-or-less unique, cohesive and coherent larger structure (as opposed to lists, forms, etc.)" (p. 4). Students entering academic disciplines must learn the genres and conventions of that particular disciplinary community (Freeman, Carey, & Miller, 1991). Understanding the conventions of an academic discourse community constitutes a special literacy that writers need to acquire.

In order to better touch the concept of communication, Widdowson (1978), differs between aspects of writing act and composing act. Widdowson (1978) argues that there are two aspects in language; one is rules, such as grammar, that determine correctness, and the other one is the performative ability that allows people to undertake meaningful communication. He labels the correctness as usage and the performance as use. Since the language functions systematically and communicatively, both spoken and written modes of language cannot leave out either the grammatical and communicative aspects. According to Widdowson (1987), writing is the matter of use, and composing is the act of usage. Writing is not a communicative act because it is evaluated only by its correctness, and, in this sense, the equivalent of writing in the spoken mode is saying, simply reciting un-contextual words. Composing is a communicative activity of the written mode, as speaking is in the spoken mode. In his arguments, sheer writing is the matter of writing a correct sentence by following grammatical rules. Composition can be described as a collection of sentences, yet it cannot be communicative writing in a holistic sense. For example, speaking can be altered in form depending on the type of communicative activities, such as public speaking, presentation, and debate. These spoken activities are socially reciprocal because they take place in the presence of listeners. When being located in socially reciprocal settings, speaking becomes talking. Talking, in comparison to speaking, is a communicative activity because talking is an intended interaction with a listener. One can write journals, essays, and academic writings; yet, if one does so without thinking of communicating with a target audience, these written materials cannot be communicative products.

In other words, for writing as well as speaking to be a communicative activity, these activities must be evaluated in the presence of readers or listeners. Composing also must be in a reciprocal setting in order to be a communicative activity. In addition to the above argument, Widdowson (1978) mentioned that communicative writing can be described as the act of corresponding. Of course, as Widdowson (1978) acknowledges, the socially reciprocal setting of the written mode is different from that of the spoken mode because, unlike listeners, readers are not always available for immediate feedbacks or, even worse, for any form of interactions whatsoever.

However, communicative writing entails the presence of readers as a target audience. The important point is that one can write following grammatical rules, and one can compose in order to communicate with others through writing, yet, if one does not write with the target audience in mind, composition cannot be an act of communication. A personal diary, for example, is not a communicative writing. It is a simply composition because of its absence from the socially reciprocal setting with a target audience. As a result, communicative writing can be defined as writing activity aiming to correspond with a target audience. The reason why the presence of the target audience is in crucial communicative activity is that it provides not only the socially reciprocal setting, but also a specific purpose, format, and style for communicating (Widdowson, 1978).

Based on communication theory, communicative strategies should be exerted in ESL writing instruction. Cohen (1998) defined communicative strategies as means writers use to express their ideas in the most optimal way. Therefore, individuals have creativity in different ways of expressing their point of views in miscellaneous matt


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