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Second language learners are students whose first language is not the language they opt to learn. Most of the times, the second language originates from a different country from the learner's. Educational writing demands sensible determination as well as exercising, to create and evaluate ideas. Learners writing in second language encounter challenges associated with the second language skills. Language skill and competency bring about the ability to write foreign language in a profound way. Therefore, when dealing with students, instructors ought to bear in mind the strategic growth and language ability. It is appropriate to give attention to linguistic development for second language students and to sufficiently give feedback on the errors in the students' writing.
Writing Second Language
The writing ability for a second language student is learnt or conveyed by exercising in instructional environments, where the second language is learnt through experience. Writing second language comprises of telling and retelling information, such as through narrations and descriptions, as well as transforming information into text. The act of creating text and sentences in second language is a major source of problems for students in learning environments. This is because formulating fresh concepts can be hard when it involves transforming information into text. This activity of creating text from information in a foreign language engages the student in "a two-way interaction between developing knowledge and developing text" (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1987, p. 12). Certain social and cognitive aspects of second language attainment strategies in learning foreign language affect its writing. To effectively write in second language based on the given information in other forms other than written, social and cognitive aspects should be taken into consideration.
Historical Background of Testing and Teaching English Language for Foreign Students
Second-language writing was traditionally done by nonnative speakers of a language. Second language teaching custom has changed a lot, particularly in the 20th century and has been practiced in classrooms worldwide. Below are some optimal methods and techniques that have been historically used for second language teaching and learning.
The Classical Method
This method was used from the 17th to 19th century when second language was taught to boost the students' intellectuality. It was vital to concentrate on grammatical rules, syntactical arrangements, memorizing vocabulary and translating formal texts. This method was later referred to as Grammar Translation Method.
The Direct Method
This was a method by Charles Berlitz. It stated that second language learning, was just like learning a first language. The method involved a lot of oral communication, practical usage of the second language and some study of grammatical guidelines as well as syntactical structures. This method also had other distinct principles that included:
Instructing students in the second language;
Inductive attitude to the language;
Teaching regular vocabulary through pictures and objects, and;
It incorporated pieces of Direct Method and was founded on linguistic theory and scientific descriptive principles. The characteristics of this method in teaching English language included:
Reliance on imitation and memorization of phrases;
Use of visual aids;
Emphasis on articulation, and;
Instant correct responses.
After 1964 audio-lingual method deteriorated due to downgrade of the role of context.
Designer Method of the 1970s
This method tried to capitalize on psychological issues and using them in teaching and learning foreign languages. Nunan (1989) called this "designer" method. The designer method was classified into:
Suggestopedia used brain power and inner abilities. It as well used relaxation and classical music in the process of learning second languages (Lozanov 1979).
The Silent Way
This division was described by problem-solving tactic (Gattegno 1972). The Silent Way was considered to be harsh because the teacher was far from the learner.
English Language Assessment and Testing
Testing of English language capabilities is the first step to assess foreign language proficiency of a student. The testing of foreign language skill may be done through various methods which include:
Basic Language Skill method
This includes testing English language proficiency through informal oral interview, semi- formal interview. Tools like Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) may be used and include oral comprehension and oral production. Another tool is the Foreign Language Assessment Directory (FLAD) which is a free, online lookup database about various assessment tests.
Ethical Case Study method
This method involves testing ethics on written or oral level of a foreign language, in which the students are required to answer the related asked questions. This method is confidential, accurate and impartial.
Cultural Issues method
In this method, the tutors present scenarios that define cultural hurdles and check how the foreign language students react to such situations. The students' capability to react to cultural mix-ups from a language can be a useful tool of testing and assessing foreign language.
Integrated Interpreting Skills method
In this method, the students are tested if they can interpret a replicated linguistic evaluation with accuracy. The students can be asked for explanation by using reminding devices to manage communication. Tutors check if the students applied sequential ways in their interpretation.
Translation of Simple Instructions method
In this method, the teachers evaluate, test and assess the students on translating written messages into spoken messages from English language to learners' first language and vice versa . The tutors may use tools such as application forms and brochures to test students based on this method.
For foreign language students, the learning process in a schooling setting is very challenging. Among the best methods of ensuring students' second language proficiency in writing is through persistence in lingual exercises. Many foreign language students however lack the compulsory lingual capability (Yau 1991). Teachers should not stultify their students' curiosity in learning to write in second language through excessive stress and insisting on linguistic accuracy. Second language teachers ought to however, learn writing areas in which students are facing difficulties and offer to assist them to perfect their learning. According to Kern teaching foreign language does not recognize the effect of socio-cultural context (Kern 2000). Learners also have to accept the reality that foreign language learning especially the writing has errors and they should thus be assisted by the tutors to develop approaches for correction and guidance.