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Writing is an important medium for language and it is used for many different purposes. It performs many important functions in a person's day to day life in different areas life official, academic, media and even social and personal settings.
The ability to write well is not a naturally acquired skill, it is usually learned or culturally transmitted as a set of practices in formal instructional settings other environments. Hence, learning writing of L2 one requires to learn deliberately and consciously each and every linguistic element through instruction or proper guidance. Further, the learning experience of L1 is different from that of L2. In the process of learning L2 writing, previous experience (i.e.L1) gets the way of learning of writing in all the levels of L2. But for learning of L1 writing there is no such experience.
Definition of Writing
Writing is a skill and, like other skills, has to be learnt. Applied linguists inherited the view of language as speech and writing as an orthographic. Writing is an inaccurate presentation of speech. Widdoson (1979) describes writing as the use of the visual medium to manifest the graphological and grammatical system of the language.
Elbow (1981.369) puts "writing as a kind of magic' that can be performed by any one who is involved in and believes in his tale." It implies the fact that the mental representation by means of lexical manipulation is given in the form of script or marks in the process of writing. The process of translating the abstract ideas into a concrete form is the act of writing.
This takes place in the process of transforming the abstract sounds into concrete scripts. Therefore it is an enigmatic one, which is otherwise called as magic.
Peacock (1986) opines, that writing has been described as a struggle to compose ideas in the dead and construct a visible and tangible form out of the models and images that are stored and organized in the mind'. In this regard Raines (1983) says that teaching writing helps to reinforce the grammatical structures, vocabulary, syntax, idioms, etc., which are taught to the learners.
Language is a storehouse of knowledge having many dimensions of production and reception, So a standard system is needed to record a language in coded form. Writing is a form of encoded symbols in the form of print or impression.
The Nature of Writing and the Skill of Writing
Writing is considered to be the most difficult of the language skills as it involves a conscious effort by the writer to produce an accurate piece of writing. The emphasis is, invariably, on form, content and fluency of written expression. One of the methods suggested was a method of teaching which focuses on active intellectualization. The students are to be aware of the cognitive methods they are utilizing and be able to identify them. Their focus would be on writing which is semantic and cognitive.
Since writing helps in advancing analytic thinking and communication skills, developing writing skills assumes a great role in education. Writing is a significant kind of thinking in which symbols of language assume a purpose of their own and instruct the writer during the composing process. Hence, writing is our outeme writing skill which refers to the writer's linguistic ability in making use of the mechanics of writing.
The writing skill includes a number of sub skills. The sub skills are (Sobana, 2003.26):
Mechanics - handwriting, spelling, punctuation.
Word selection - Vocabulary, idioms, tone.
Organization - paragraphs, topic and support, cohesion and unit.
Syntax - Sentence structure, sentence boundaries, stylistics, etc.
Grammar - rules of verbs, agreement, articles, pronouns, etc.
Content - relevance, charity, originality, logic etc.
The writing process - getting ideas, getting started writing drafts, revising, etc.
Purpose - the reason for writing, justification.
Learning Process of Writing
Learning of writing is not just transcribing language into written symbols - it is thinking process. White and Arnolt (1991.3) say, " it is a form of problem solving which involves such processes as generating ideas, discovering a 'voice' with which to write, planning goal setting, monitoring and evaluating what is going to be written as well as what has been written and search for language with which to express exact meanings."
Lado (1971.143-47) says that learning to write a foreign language is learning to put down at a speed greater than that of drawing the conventional symbols of the writing system that represent the utterances one has in mind. Further, he has divided the learning process of writing into five stages as:
Coping read texts,
The task of preparing students to learn to write in a foreign language varies according to what the students know from their native language writing. Being sufficiently prepared involves knowing the symbols that will represent the utterances they have in their mind and how to put them down.
The Writing Process
Writing requires and combines more basic skills them any other subject area. After writing down one's inner speech on paper, it has to be polished properly. Topkins and Hoskisson (1995.211-22) provide five stages of writing process. They are prewriting, drafting, revising, editing and publishing.
The first step is prewriting. This is the planning step. During this step the writer needs to choose a subject, gather details about the subject using a graphic organizer and decide what one wants to tell one's audience. The second stage, drafting stage is the time to pour out ideas with little concern about, Spelling, Punctuation, and other mechanical errors. The third stage is revising. This is a true to improve one's writing. During this step the writer needs to read and review one's draft, show the draft to the other classmates and the teacher and get ideas on how to improve one's writing and make necessary charges. Next, the editing stage is the state of putting the piece of writing into the final form. The writer moves through there activities in this stage: getting distance from the composition, proof reading to locate the errors and correcting errors. The final stage is the publishing. In this stage, a young writer brings his compositions to life by publishing them.
Mechanics of Writing
Mechanics of writing play an important role in the productive skill of writing. Mechanics of writing involves the following activities:
Ability to shape the letters (graphics),
Knowledge of right combination of letters (spelling),
Skill of cohering words (sentence),
Skill of composing sentences (discourse) and
Control over punctuation (stop, semicolon, colon, comma, etc)
Types of Writing
In one's daily transactions of life he/she makes use of English in the written form for various types of communication. According to the purpose, the writing methods vary. Further, depending upon the time and space, the same matter by the same author may be presented in different forms to the audience. Some of the frequently used types of writing are:
There are certain rules and formal regulations to be observed in many written correspondences. Thus, the conventional rules have to be followed in determining the type of expression employed.
Errors in Writing
Errors are real indicators of the problem encountered by the learners. By identifying the errors committed by the learners, the researchers can easily point out such areas which need to be focused more. It is generally regarded that the students commit errors in all the areas of language. They are
Morphological level, and
Generally students commit errors while creating a piece of writing due to some of the following reasons and also the complexity of the target language rule.
Inappropriate use of the rules,
Simplification of the existing rules,
Mother tongue influence,
Error analysis is followed to test and evaluate the responses of the students to detect the processes involved in using the word, phrasal, syntactical, semantical categories of the language. Through identifying the areas of errors, the areas where more concentration needed to be focused by both the teacher and learners can be realized and relevant remedies can be suggested to eliminate the difficulties of writing.
It is very important to think critically while writing. Words are the vehicles through which one expresses one's thoughts and measures against one's experiences and that of others. In this way writing helps to think critically, which is essential in this media-oriented society, that is constantly bombarding the society with information.
Language plays a vital role in a society because it is not only a mode of communication but also a way of life. In teaching - learning process, the language is a link and medium between the teacher and the learner. So the process of language production and language comprehension demands experimental and scientific tools for the analysis of language to make it more helpful in the comprehension of the text both in the classroom and external environment. The main purpose of language teaching is the mastery of the linguistic skills - listening, speaking, reading and writing - while working through a lesson will help the teachers reprocess language during the lesson. The mastery over the language skills help the learners to express and share their experience, knowledge, ideas and thoughts in an effective manner and to learners a better understanding and harmony for the common benefit of the society.
In the following section, review of the Professional Development is discussed for the purpose of understanding its importance which is the part of the present study.
The main purpose of the professional development is to empower the teachers, to give them the opportunities and the confidence to act upon their ideas as well as to influence the way they perform in their profession. Empowerment is the process through which teachers become capable of engaging in, showing control of, and influencing events and institutions that affect their lives.
Hargreaves and Fullan (1992.9) opine that "the teacher is the ultimate key to educational change and school improvement". Teachers do not simply implement the curriculum. They define and refine the curriculum; they interpret and transform the curriculum in a way that makes learning more manageable for the learners. In other words, it is what teachers think and do at the classroom level that eventually determines what learners learn in the classroom. Thus, given the key role of the teachers in the classroom, it is imperative that professional growth becomes a top priority. Teachers should constantly develop not only their knowledge of the subject matter, but also their knowledge of pedagogy.
Professional growth has three important areas:
To be a true professional, teacher must constantly upgrade their knowledge and understanding of language and language learning. But this is not enough. They should also develop their skills in translating this newly acquired knowledge in their teaching.
Teachers' professional interests and needs should change over time. As they progress in their careers, they should also seek out different professional development activities.
Professional development requires a personal and ongoing commitment.
Effective professional development is considered to be the centre of educational reform (Dilworth & Imig, 1995).
The purpose of Language processing involves the retrieval of words and phrases from memory and their assembly into syntactically and propositionally appropriate sequences. Effective speakers need to be able to process language in their heads and put in coherent order so that it comes out in forms that are comprehensible and convey intended meaning. Professional development programmes is to create effective teachers. From the onset of formal public education through the 1970s, teacher training was generally referred to by the public as "teacher education" or "in-service". By the 1980s, with education under closure scrutiny, it became "staff development". In the 1990s, a push to "professionalize" teaching careers gave birth to the term "professional development". Finally, in 2006, Fullan, Hill and Crevola suggested "professional learning" as a more appropriate term, putting the focus on overall intent - that of lifelong learners who educate others via their professional careers.
Developing effective professional development programmes for educators is critical to student achievement and ultimately of society. Vygotsky's work in education indicated learning is after a social activity (Kozulin, Gindis, Ageyev & Miller, 2003); therefore, teachers must be allowed to work together if they are to become more effective instructors.
Professional development, as defined by the National Professional Development Council of America in 2000, is: "a lifelong collaborative learning process that nourishes the growth of individuals, teams, and the school through a daily job-embedded, learner-centered, focused approach" (DuFour, Eaker, fDuFour, 2006.217). In 2009, the National Staff Development Council began to conduct a critical inquiry into the professional development of educators. Research indicated "session activities should be interactive, collaborative, and encourage participants to be knowledgeable constructors rather than mere recipients of information" (O' Hara & Pritchard, 2008.46). Providing teachers with the power to consider and respond to classroom concerns, to examine alternatives and implement a course of action, it is believed, will promote self-efficacy among educators. Self-efficacy involves a person's ability to analyze alternatives and implement an action plan.
One of the most significant problems with professional development as it exists is that the absolute absence of any correlation between what teachers learn and what they do in their classrooms. There is a disconnected feeling between their classroom instructional practices and the professional development meetings they attend (Fullan, et al., 2006). The unfortunate reality seems to be that many professional development activities are not providing teachers with the necessary tools to help them improve teaching techniques and become more effective and better equipped to deal with their students' needs.
Traditional workshops tend not to be effective for a number of reasons:
An unrealistic amount of content is covered in one session;
The passivity of setting and receiving information creates an atmosphere not conducive to learning - even with a dynamic presenter;
There is no occasion for the presenter to facilitate any type of reflection thereby impeding the learners' opportunity to put into practice what can only take place when they return to instruction in their own classrooms (Chappuis, S., et al.,2009).
Because professional development engages teachers as learners, the lessons, Jehelen (2007) believed, should be taught by current or former master teachers in a manner easily replicated by other professionals. Professional development needs to be differentiated to meet the diversified needs of all teachers. Additionally, it was found to be imperative for teachers to work both individually as well as collaboratively on new pedagogical practices (Fullan,et al., 2006). Continuous professional development can provide cumulative insight and valuable instructional tools to teachers.
Educators need to be able to think deeply not only about their subjects, but also about how they facilitate learning and how the students connect to the material. For decades, professional development has focused on curriculum and new trends in education. The need for increased technological powers has been expressed. Additionally, however, Ritchhart (2004) asserted, "We need to design encounters for teachers in which they can develop their thinking abilities, increase their inclination toward thinking, and become more aware of thinking opportunities in the curriculumâ€¦." (216).
Alternative conceptions of Self-Development
There are alternative terms underlying self-development of teachers, like self-inquiry, self-evaluation and self-reflection.
Self-inquiry is the encompassing term that includes questioning, examining, evaluating and reflecting of teachers on their performances. In order to inquire about their own skills, teachers need to reflect on their performance. Teachers' reflection is vital to develop a super understanding of the events that occur in the classroom. According to (Farrell (1998), reflective teaching can benefit English language teachers in three main ways:
It helps free the teacher from impulsive and routine behaviour,
It allows teachers to act is deliberate, intentional manner and avoid the "I don't know what I will do today" syndrome, and
It distinguishes teachers as educated human beings.
When a teacher observes his/her own teaching and reflects upon it, he/she means to evaluate one's performance and notices the strong and weak points in his/her teaching.
Nikolic(2002) opines that self-evaluation is powerful means of achieving permanent positive change than any other method of professional growth or supervision because teachers can accomplish more by working on their own. The self-evaluate voluntarily, and their factor ensures they are motivated to experiment and willing to change.
Adult learning and Teacher Development stages
Teachers are different needs and abilities at different stages of their careers. Therefore, understanding adult learning is important to fully understand the professional development of teachers.
Knowles (cited in Raths and Katz, 1986) identifies some principles for facilitating adult learning, regardless of ones stages of development. One of the principles which constitute the foundation stress of modern adult leaving is that's adults has a deep need to be self-directed. Therefore the role of the teacher is to engage in a process of inquiry with adult learners rather than to transmit knowledge to them. Another principle is that experience is the richest source for adult learning therefore, the case methodology of adult education is the analysis of experience.
In addition to these, adult motivation is also considered. Adults are motivated to learn as they experience needs and interests that learning will satisfy, therefore the needs and interests are appropriate starting points for organizing adult learning activities.
In addition to knowles, Burden (cited is Raths and Katz, 1986) underlines the importance of knowledge of teachers' personal and professional development changes since it can help teacher educators understand the needs and abilities of teachers at different points in their careers and serve as a basis for planning inventions to promote developmental growth.
Life Cycle of a Teacher
There are several ways of analyzing the professional life cycle of teachers. As pointed out by Day, the teachers' works suggest that teachers pass through five broad stages: Launching a career, stabilization, new challenges and new concerns, reaching a professional plateau and disenchantment.
During the first stages of their career, teachers go through easy or painful beginnings to their career and they exhibit initial commitment and enthusiasm. This stage is experienced between 1 -3 years of teaching experience.
After this stage, teachers find commitment and feel relatively secure in their knowledge of teaching practice and subject matter. This stage is true for 4-6 years of teaching experience. In this stabilization stage, the sense of growing maturity is likely to be accompanied by skill and experimentation and commitment but ultimately to monotony, stagnation and disenchantment. These may happen between 7-18 years of teaching experience.
Between 19-30 years of experience teachers may show more concern with holding on to what they have and show resistance to innovations. On the other hand, teachers may feel a greater sense of confidence and self-acceptance. They may begin to re-orientate themselves.
In the final 10-15 years of their careers teachers seem to have years of experience a gradual disengaging as key approach retirement. Disengagement may be experienced in 31-40 years of teaching experience.
In the light of these theories, it can be concluded that teachers at different stages of their careers may experience, feel, think and act differently. Therefore, professional development activities should be applied and evaluated according to the teachers needs at different stages of their careers. However, during the planning of professional development, teachers' cognitive development must also be taken into account.
In-service training (INSET) is defined as a planned event, series of events or extended programme of accredited or non-accredited learning, in order to distinguish it from less formal in-school development work and extended partnerships and inter school networks (Day,1990).
As professionals, teachers need to keep pace with the rapid developments in task to fulfill. As Ã-zen (2001) states, due to rapid advances in technology and science the information content of our world today grows and doubles in comparatively short periods of time. Likewise, the roles that individuals have to fill in their professional and personal lives vary so rapidly that it sometimes becomes difficult to follow and to keep pace with them- In this respect, INSET is regarded as necessary for teachers and it is powerful in fastening teacher's development. Therefore, it is widely applied.
According to Day (1999) there is evidence that INSET can and does exercise powerful effects on the thinking and practices of teachers, and thus, indirectly upon the quality of students' classroom experiences. Hiep (2001) claims that along with the teacher training, teachers development fills the gap in training by giving teachers opportunities to reflect on classroom practice, gain insight into teaching experiences and deal with change and divergence.
All things considered, INSET programmes can have important contributions to foster teachers' knowledge and improve their classroom practices. However, these programmes limitations and strengths need to be considered. As Day (1999) puts forward, where INSET dose not take account of the development phases of teachers, their intellectual and emotional development needs, it is unlikely to enhance their capacity for skilled commitment over the longer period.
Diaz Maggioli (2003.4) observes that "programmes which involve teachers in the planning, organization, management, delivery and evaluation of all actions in which they are expected to participate have more chances of success that those planned using a top-down approach, where administrator's make decisions in lieu of teachers".
Benefits of In-service Training
In-service training (INSET) classes are most powerful and effective forms of teacher-development. They are:
In-service classes can provide an opportunity for an expert in an area to share knowledge and experience with teachers in a comfortable learning environment.
In-service training programme is intended to enhance teachers' practical skills and help resolve problems, rather than simply improve theoretical understanding. Teachers attending INSET should therefore come away with ideas, strategies, techniques, and materials that can be used in their class-rooms.
In-service classes take teachers out of the classroom to a forum where they can share problems and concerns with colleagues or teachers from different schools. They also can serve to rekindle teachers' enthusiasm for teaching.
As INSET is a highly interactive activity, spending a few hours every day for a period of time with other colleagues helps develop bonds of collegiality and personal relationships that often last well beyond the workshop itself.
INSET can be crucial strategy in the implementation of curriculum or other king of change. For eg. If a new educational policy mandates an unfamiliar teaching or curriculum approach such as competency-based instruction or content-based instruction, INSET would be an ideal format for preparing teachers for change.
INSET programmes can vary in length, though it is usually of limited duration which is an advantage for teachers and institutions that have very little time available for additional activities.
As these programmes involve consideration of issues and problems, often based around theoretical or conceptual input followed by problem solving and application in pairs or groups, the way such activities are sequenced can vary according to the preferences of the participants for the maximum benefit.
To be an effective teacher requires a combination of professional knowledge and specialized skills as well as one's own personal experiences and qualities. And adding to their knowledge base and acquiring new skills are among the main reasons teachers participate in professional development activities (Bailey, Curtis, and Numan, 2001). The ongoing professional development is essential, especially in today's world of constantly changing technology. Teachers of English who have been trained to use new techniques and resources are more inclined to try them with their students (Chisman and Crandall 2007).
Professional development is an on going process, one that evolves as one assesses and reexamines his/her teaching beliefs and practices. It is a process through which teachers become capable of engaging in, sharing control of, and influencing events and institutions that affect their lives.
This chapter can be summarized by stating that the chapter has very well thrown light on the purpose of English language teaching, the review of the methodological history of language skills. This chapter also scrutinizes the five components of professional development, its theoretical context, Adult learning teacher development stages, life cycle of a teacher, In-service training and its benefits. The study of all these components proved to be very much useful for the present study.
Chapter III will describe the methods and procedures of the dissertation study. It will include research design, the methodology employed for the teachers, procedure used for the research, the sampling design, participants, data collection and in-service training programme, its benefits, communicative language approach, analysis techniques, and procedure of the pre-test for the learners used by the researcher.