A descriptive study on writing performance of 8th graders from a public school
Catalan Diaz, Erica Cecilia
Ramirez Gonzalez, Daniela Paz
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Writing in a foreign language is an arduous task, since it requires handling a wide range of linguistic and cognitive abilities. On one hand, it demands to have the knowledge of the language system, choosing the correct spelling, vocabulary, word formation and grammatical structure. On the other hand, it requires developing mental abilities such as generating ideas, ordering, prioritizing and organizing concepts and opinions. Moreover, writers also need to know the steps involved in the process of writing along with the expected characteristics of their written outcomes. Writing is an ability that has to be taught and practiced in the classroom. However, there are pedagogic practices that may hinder the developing of writing skills in students, instead of promoting them. For example, learners might be encouraged to participate in written activities without the knowledge and the skills required to achieve this type of communication. Sometimes, learners are asked to perform written tasks with higher levels of complexity without being exposed to a systematic practice and reflection on the skills involved in this process. Besides, some teachers, in some circumstances, have not been able to incorporate recent ideas about the development of writing into their pedagogy because of pressures of time, assessment or requirements of the syllabus. Therefore, some students have not had the chance to receive explicit instruction on writing processes, type of texts or the steps involved in written communication. Finally, those students who use texts and materials delivered by the government might be, somehow, excluded from achieving communicative language competences, since these textbooks are especially oriented to promote the development of receptive abilities such as reading and listening more than emphasizing the four language skills.