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There is, and always be a lifelong love affair between the study of literature and the development of writing skills that place. The word study strongly conveys a focussed examination of a text. As students participate in literature study, they develop new perspective as readers. By critically thinking about the meanings and listening to the author's idea, they come to understand a piece of literature in a deeper way, by which they begin to improve their own writing. Learning, incorporating specific writing issues with a connected set of reading issues, highlights the necessary connections between study reading and writing as complementary production processes.
As part of a wide spectrum of studying and writing experiences, literature study is designed to expand student's knowledge of literary texts. This strategy makes connections between the literature they read and their own personal knowledge to analyse, synthesize and to think critically. The learning to think critically teaches them to make decisions about the text and to criticize their own writing in future. The study of literature teaches one to respond to the aesthetic qualities of literature and this artistic appreciation connects them to great writers throughout their lives. Most importantly, literature study extends writing skills when a student makes rich connection between the text they study and their own writing. They use the qualities of powerful models and analyse them in such a way as to help them use language creatively to express ideas, support arguments and organize facts and ideas to reveal a larger meaning.
There have been a great number of recent researches on the writing process in the past decade and these researches have greatly refined our understanding of writing. In particular, the research of Flower and Hayes, of Bereiter and Scardamalia and Halliday has put forward important elements into the development of writing abilities. Among the theorists mentioned, Flower analyses the academic task of reading-to-write. These studies show how students read in order to perform a writing task, how different students represent their task (and its influence on reading) in different ways and how the representation of the task and the study of literature influence the writing processes. In the combined study of teacher perspective-student perspective, students in the process of writing and the written text, Flower states that there needs to develop some strategies to determine appropriate writing goals, and strategies to carry out the goals set. Thus there has to be a communication between the context and the cognition in the episode of a particular writing task. Overall the main implication is that, as Flower derives, a good writer has a richer knowledge of what they want to do when they write. They are creative in their problem finding and in their problem solving.
Following the theory of Flower regarding different strategies, the first strategy that comes to my mind is the value or importance of studying plethora of literary texts. To quote the Victorian Certificate of education (VCE) English studies, 'The English studies require students to read and comprehend, a wide range of texts that challenge and extend their understanding of language, themselves and the world around them'.
Literature is divided into poetry and prose. Poetry is both imaginative and artistic where meanings are packed into a few words and lines. Whereas a prose informs, shows, explains and describes in an elaborate manner. In the case of literature study, I, as a Year 11 teacher would support students in a way that would allow them to understand a literary text in a detailed manner than they would by simply reading books on their own. It becomes difficult, though, to have a great variety of high-quality texts for classroom discussion. In this case a classroom can:
Use book-clubs to obtain inexpensive or free books,
Ask students to bring in copies of books they have to make enough for a group,
Search for books at garage sale, or,
I can borrow books from other grade-level colleagues.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of me as a teacher to set some goals when students study a text. The goal is to broaden their world experience and increase their knowledge, enrich their knowledge of language, that is vocabulary, grammar, and spelling, develop their own opinion and commenting on the thoughts of others and asking questions about aspects of literature such as characters, plot structure and so forth. According to Wood (1998), this process of understanding of a text is essential if we expect students to internalize the operations and then format a piece of their own. This 'apprenticeship' model of learning helps the development of internal writing processes. Thus learning "leads" development.
The second stage of a writing process is planning. The planning or transforming, on the other hand, involves recalling and reiterating. I need to help the students juxtapose many pieces of studied literary text as well as weigh various rhetorical options and constraints (Bereiter and Scardamalia 1987). In academic settings where students are learning to write, I assume that students will learn to compose with the ability to transform information. There can be many students who have little ability to even write a simple piece. Such students certainly deserve the attention of applied linguists. These writing constrains can only be lessened through the complex composing skill in the academy which involves teaching literature of the finest quality, instructions on writing, practice, experience and the purpose of writing. Writing is not a natural ability that automatically accompanies maturation (Liberman and Liberman 1990).
A view of language which is the third aspect to any understanding of writing development is derived from Halliday's functional Theory of language. In his theory of language, grammar develops out of the need for writers to interact for functional purposes; that is language development takes place out of a child's 'learning to mean' (Christie 1989 ). Students learning to interact in writing need to understand how language form and generic text structure provide resources for presenting information. They then choose linguistic patterns which are entirely appropriate to the meanings they are trying to make. As Christie states, 'Success in mastering a content area is actually a matter of mastering the necessary linguistic resources with which to deal with that content-this implies knowing how one's discourse is to be structured' (1989:167 ). To talk about language, is to talk about style, narration and genre. Genre is a system formed to show the characteristics of a text. Knowing about genres, gives students language with which to talk about the literary text and helps them in turn to write about various genres. To be successful, students must learn how language works to convey content through different genres. When books are chosen by genres, it should be flexible because many texts have multiple characteristics. In order to teach about style, narration and genre, Joseph Conrad's 'The Heart of Darkness' is the best example I would suggest for VCE students. Conrad tells the reader to what length a writer can be innovative in one's writing. He uses his own creative and narrative techniques. There are two narrators: an anonymous passenger who speaks on behalf of four other passengers who listens to Marlow's story and Marlow himself, who describes his experiences and provides commentary on the story. I would guide the students in their travel writing and even adventure tales by asking them to keep in mind Conrad's narrative technique. It is the "most famous exposition of the journey metaphor"(Jones,101) While reading this novella, Year 11 students come to know how "delayed decoding" (175)(Watt coins the term) can arouse a reader's interest in a piece of writing. Conrad describes events but holds the cause or informs about an action but holds the significant element of the context. His style is truly unique in every aspect. Marlow's story is a mixture of metaphors and everyday language. The students will also be made aware of the multiple genre's used by Conrad where the comprehensive are used as fiction and history whereas the narrower ones as simple events and tragedy. At the end of the lesson, the students can work individually or as a group to discuss the following things. Students can imagine themselves as travellers. Where would they like to go and why? What mysterious event would they encounter? What would they do and what would they bring back with them.
In order to explain factual writing and the importance of genre for students writing development, Martin (1989) has developed a structure for factual writing which include:
Recounts (a specific event related presentation);
Procedures (a general event related presentation);
Descriptions (a specific object related presentation);
Reports (a general object related presentation);
Explanations (a specific argument on an issue, event, or object);
Exposition (a complex sequence of multiple explanations).
The framework shows how language functions for the purpose of content presentation, appropriate to a writer's purpose.
As students go on with the journey of studying literary texts, the spontaneous development as a reader remains unaware to them. By now theyare able to understand more complex information and develop fluency iin their writing with a wider range of genres and formal structures of descriptions. It is at this point I would like to introduce them to Jhumpa Lahiri's 'Interpreter of Maladies'. My intention will be to highlight how events and moments from everyday life can bring a different direction to awriting style. The characters and their sorrow's, frustrations and disappointment are simply human, though, the stories are packed with rich vocabulary. From this book a range of topics and projects can be nominated. Content-based units can covera wide range of topics and issues like; the gradual death of a marriage ("A Temporary Matter"), the disappointment of a person of unfulfilled promises ("Interpreter of Maladies"), the infidelity in a married life ("Sexy"). Though the topics are of the short stories itself, but they serve as the source of free writing, by which my students would get a chance to write for a short period of time on any chosen topic.
a powerful depth of emotions which is aesthetic (involving emotional and literary appreciation) efferent (involves seeking information) (Rosenblatt 1978). This text serves as an awareness activity to examine sentence arrangements and information ordering. Students need to be aware of such differences in a literary text and the situations and conditions under which each type of writing style is more appropriate. The VCE says, "The study of literature encourages independent learning and critical thinking in studnt's analytical and creative reaponses to texts, which will assist students in the workforce and in future academic study."
Thus, when I read aloud some paragraphs of the extreme inhumanity tolerated by the Holocaust victims in Elie Wiesel's Night to students, or encourage a student to read a paragraph from the text, the students approach the text critically in many ways and use strategies to understand it which helps them in their writing skill.
Elie was deported to Auschwitz concentration camp along with his family (identifying information)
The word 'deportation' means, the transportation from one's native land against one's own will. (word solving)
The Holocaust which took away millions of lives (Historical fact-Genre)
Could the Holocaust be avoided? (critiquing)
Juliek's playing the Violin amidst dead bodies (aesthetic touch)
As the students think about the author's craft, they are able to think themselves as writers and how they will use the various techniques in their writing. Writing activities can be extended into a writing corners, an area of classroom designed to encourage writing. The writing corner serves as a place where individual student or student groups go to explore their writing tasks. Materials such as, student dictionaries, resource books, encyclopaedias can be stored in that corner.
As writing leads to improved reading abilities, teachers should provide students with metalinguistics vocabulary and routines so that they can analyse their own writing, as the development of writing demands for an ever-increasing vocabulary. When teaching a literary text, teachers should recycle important vocabulary and discuss words with additional information. Vocabulary development not only supports reading and writing, it builds syntactic flexibility and creates a foundation for further learning.
At some point in the development of a writing skill, emphasis should be given to editing. As regular practice, two words can be placed on the board everyday when studying a literary text. In each sentence there should be an editing error. The error can be spelling, punctuation, capitalization or grammar. Over time, this practice of editing will take place in their writing skill and they will accept the conventions of edited writing.
To conclude, an argument follows that student, instead of assisted to acquire advanced skill involved in writing, is taught the skill of orthographic system and surface structure features like grammar and spelling. A mature writing will have to take into account both the text as product and writing as process, 'â€¦ not as independent concepts but as complementary perspectives on the same phenomenon.'(Theory and Practice of writing: William Grabe and Robert B. Kaplan).