Teaching The Writing Skill In Second Language English Language Essay

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"Process" and "Product" are two distinct approaches to teaching the writing skill in second language. Process-oriented writing instruction emphasizes the writing processes that "real" or "real-world" writers make use of in composing (such as planning, drafting, and revising). Most of the professional writers compose multiple drafts. They are engaged in a variety of planning activities, they try to get feedback, and follow a recurrent pattern of drafting, raising questions that need research, then revising considering new information as needed. Process-oriented writing seeks to enhance students composing skills through developing their use of these composing processes and engage students in this time-consuming approach to writing in the classroom. Product-oriented approach or prose model approach on the other hand concentrates more producing various kinds of texts and in which students are encouraged to imitate different kinds of model paragraphs or essays, which are usually presented and analyzed at an early stage.

II. Discussion on the teaching and learning problems related to the issue.

Conventionally, the teaching of writing skill and the composition assignments were interested in the final product. The standards of measurement in this text-based approach is to ensure if this product is readable, based on grammatical rules and if it obeys discourse conventions of organization and arrangement. According to Zamel, the product approaches that 'focuses on usage, structure and correct forms improves writing' (1982:195).

In classroom, students are taught to mimic and adapt texts from several models. Writing becomes just a task of transferring ideas to paper without any attention neither to the context nor to the stages that real-world writers experience when composing a text. In addition, feedback and evaluation are given only when the whole text is finished, which takes students away from the pleasure of improving their written work. Usually students suppose that their task is to write and the teacher's role is to evaluate. Teachers who also choose this premise are denying students the possibility of developing their ability for self-assessment and of becoming more critical readers of their own compositions.

In recent years, there have been some changes in the method of teaching writing skill and the student's role has become more important. Process writing is a new approach that puts more emphasis on both communicating and composing. However the process-oriented approach to teaching writing skill has some disadvantages.

First of all, because of the distinguishing qualities of process writing, one of the most important drawbacks is the lack of time. This suggests that students will have less assignments of one particular type of text in class where the teacher can supervise the process.

Another disadvantage is that students work at various speeds, so in some occasions it is unavoidable to simplify the approach. If class time is dedicated to these kinds of in-class activities, other teaching components will suffer.

III. Discussion on the previous studies and solutions to the problem.

Before the appearance of student-centered learning, preceded by the communicative approach, ELT was mainly pre-occupied with the completed product in leading its learners towards objectives which were clearly described. In the product-oriented approach a student's attention concentrates on sticking to and copying models and especially on correct language. Usually, students who have chosen product approach would find themselves studying model texts and doing different types of assignments directed towards pulling attention to related characteristics of a text. These types of exercises require students to check comprehension by sentence completion or adding logical connections and after that, in a final draft, students would produce similar texts on the basis of their own knowledge. Despite of its popularity, this kind of approach was unsuccessful to take a non-native student's individual needs into account.

The product-oriented approach requires students' concentration, consecutively, on model, form, and duplication. According to White (1988), Jordan (1997) and Escholz (1980), in choosing this type of approach the particular nature of this sequence provides no understanding of the real processes which leads to the final product and the students are being constrained in what they can write. Escholz (1980: 24) indicates that the product-oriented approach stimulate students to use the same scheme in a many settings, and apply the same form without thinking about the content, thereby 'stultifying and inhibiting writers rather than empowering them or liberating them.'

The process oriented approach is a teaching approach that is concentrated on the process a writer is occupied with when composing. This teaching approach regards editing as a final phase in text creation, and not an initial one similar to the product oriented approach.

The process oriented approach has specified stages of the writing process such as: pre-writing, writing and re-writing. First of all the unrefined draft is created, then it is enhanced into succeeding drafts with the aid of peer and teacher cooperation. Final editing and publication can follow if the author chooses to publish their writing (Murray, 1972). And according to (Smith, 1982: 104) advantage in adopting the process approach is in developing the significance of the cyclical and recursive nature of writing, supposedly, employed by native writers, where 'ordinarily pre-writing, writing and re-writing frequently seem to be going on simultaneously'.

The literature search in the realm of English for Academic Purposes indicates that the process-oriented approach properly stresses the recurrent and periodical nature employed in composing, where 'writers are constantly planning (pre-writing) and revising (re-writing) as they compose (write)' (Flowers and Hayes, 1981: 367). Zamel supports the point that 'planning [for example] is not a unitary stage but a distinctive thinking process which writers use over and over again during composition' (1982, 206). As White (1988) indicates 'good writers' start to bring forth their first draft and do so with a sense of urgency, paying little attention to detail or accuracy. After the first draft writers then re-write what they have written. Flowers and Hayes (1981) believe that writers are continuously re-writing in trying to find the form of their arguments in aiming to predict their readers' expectations, Maimon et al surmise 'successful papers are not written; they are rewritten' (1982: 61).

One of the most important issues in the teaching of writing skill is that are the processes employed by native speakers, beneficial for non-native learners? Zamel's research indicates that writing in a foreign language, is not that much troublesome because 'it seems that certain composing problems transcend language factors and are shared by both native and non-native speakers of English' (Zamel, 1983: 168). Zamel's research may be genuine about some students but doubtlessly it cannot be employed for all. For instance, academic behaviors that depart from their own cultural backgrounds might cause some difficulties for some foreign students. Apparently it is reasonable that students who have difficulty in reading discourse which does not their individual cultural background have the same problems in producing written discourse which is strange to them. And for that matter in both reading and the written aspects of EAP we need to address this problem.

Horowitz (1986a) claims that, the process approach neglects the realities of academic environment through overemphasizing the significance of the individual student's psychological functioning. In addition, the process-oriented approach fails to practically prepare students for the real academic world because it 'creates a classroom situation that bears little resemblance to the situations in which [a student's writing] will eventually be exercised' (Horowitz, 1986a: 144).

James (1993) presents a practical discussion, which is related to Horowitz's (1986a) criticisms of the process-oriented approach which is a suitable answer to claims that the process-oriented approach fails sufficiently to meet the demands of the real academic world and 'ensure(s) that the student writing falls within …[the] range…. of acceptable writing behaviors dictated by the academic community.' (Horowitz, 1986b: 789) The proposal is that educational methodology should restore the situations under which actual academic writing is carried out, including: real academic time constraints; students working on their own specialized subject; students concentrating on the needs of a respective readership; and presentation of a text in an acceptable, well-arranged form.

On the other hand, Reyes warns against the over-excited use of the process oriented approach with second language learners (1992). Reyes look carefully at four hypothesizes that she considers as intrinsic in the process-oriented approach to teaching writing. She gives examples of how each hypothesis hinders the second language acquisition in the classroom.

According to Reyes's first assumption, the first mistake that school authorities make is that they confuse the notion of English Language acquisition with the concept of education. Certainly, this criterion becomes a policy made by the majority of language speakers which causes conflict. Despite its delicacy, this assumption can be transferred easily to students and their families by the school personnel.

Reyes' second assumption is that linguistic minorities are learned better if immersed into English as quickly as possible (1992). She cites comprehensive research conducted on language acquisition encouraging primary instruction in the native language: These studies show that bilingual students achieve higher levels when they are allowed to begin literacy instruction in their native language before transferring to English literacy . . . students who learn academic concepts and literacy skills in their native language can more eagerly and quickly transfer those skills to a second language because knowledge is based on the language and schema they comprehend (p. 434).

The third assumption Reyes claims is that of approaching the education of children from very different experiential backgrounds with a "one size fits all" approach. She claims that "teachers who implement the process oriented approach to teaching writing without modifications, have lost sight of the fact that mere implementation of [these] programs does not necessarily translate into authentic, natural, or holistic experiences for non-mainstream students" (p. 435).

The fourth assumption made by Reyes is that error correction in process oriented instruction impedes learning. She sees that in trying to follow the tenets of process-oriented instruction, teachers mostly restrain oneself themselves from visible error correction out of a fear of disapproving fluency and voice. She claims that unless teachers draw student attention to mistakes made in writing, error correction is ignored by second language learners.

IV. Suggestions for future research.

The two approaches are not necessarily incongruous. Process oriented writing, that is to say re-drafting, collaboration, can be integrated with the practice of studying written models in the classroom. Future research can concentrate more on the integration of these two approaches. For instance incorporation of the exchanging of drafts can be to some extent beneficial and can grow an awareness of the fact that a writer is producing something to be read by someone else.