The Future of L2 Writing Classrooms

The Future of L2 Writing Classrooms

What have we learned during this pandemic?

Most of us now have an experience of teaching our classes online.

Regardless of all the obstacles, it gives us an opportunity to finally learn …

  1. Various online teaching applications,
  2. How to develop teaching materials for online classes,
  3. How to teach online,
  4. How to assess our students online.

Note: We need to create our lesson plan first, then find the tools that will be helpful for the lesson. In other words, we focus on the pedagogy and the content first, and then the technology. 

Most importantly, now we have an opportunity to reflect on how we can do it much better.

Then, what have we done to do it so far?

  1. Searching ideas in Google,
  2. Sharing with colleagues,
  3. Participating in a lot of webinars,
  4. Optimizing the role of professional learning communities at our institution,
  5. Joining professional associations, such as TESOL, IATEFL, TEFLIN, ITELL, EuroCALL, etc.

Note: Our institution needs to provide us with TPD, but we also need to self initiate it to make us a better teacher.

How will this pandemic, including what we have learned so far, affect the future of our L2 writing classroom teaching practices?

#1: More blended and flipped learning practices

The class will be either fully online or blended/hybrid, in other words a combination of  conventional face to face classroom and online learning (with or without teleconferencing session).

Students’ learning process will not only take place during the class, but also before and after the class.

Note #1: We need to think about what students need to do before, during and after class.

Note #2: We need to equip students with relevant skills to become an independent, autonomous, and long life learner.

#2: More creative and collaborative learning practices

What does it mean?

  1. There will be more interaction between teacher and student, between student and student, and between student and public,
  2. Students will support each other in a collaborative project,
  3. Students will learn from each other and reflect on what they are doing by looking at what others are doing.

Note: We need to provide authentic tasks that allow students to be more creative, interactive, and reflective.

#3: More PBL and authentic learning activities

Students will be much more engaged if the learning activities are interesting and personalized.

Students will be much more focused if they know what they want to learn and if they are asked to complete a task that is challenging, authentic and meaningful.

Although it’s a writing class, we still need to integrate other skills for students to learn how to write.

Note: We need to think of what tasks students need to accomplish before the class starts and think of what they are writing in class will not only end up in a folder in their computer.

How do we know to what extent our students have learned in our L2 writing classroom?

#1: If we test our students using a good test

How do we know if a test is good or bad? The test is good if it is …

  1. Valid
  2. Reliable
  3. Practical
  4. Authentic
  5. having positive washback

Note: Every time we create a test, we always need to ask ourselves whether or not the test we are creating fulfills all those five criteria. If not, we need to modify the test.

#2: If we ask students to use higher order thinking skills. 

We always need to remind ourselves that in L2 writing classroom, we are teaching our students writing skill, not only the knowledge of writing.

If they can create a paragraph, for instance, it indicates that they are also able to remember what a good paragraph should be like.

However, if a student only remembers the knowledge about the paragraph, it doesn’t always necessarily mean that they can create a paragraph.

Note: We need to create a test that allows students to use their higher order thinking skills. To do that, cheating can also be minimized.

#3: If we focus more on assessment for and as learning

Three types of classroom based assessment:

Assessment for learning (Formative test)

Assessment of learning (Summative test)

Assessment as learning

Note: We need to focus more on assessment for and as learning, as the first one informs teachers about what needs to improve, while the latter informs students to reflect upon their progress of learning.

Conclusion

  1. Students learn how to write by writing, so it is really important for us to give our students more writing practices.
  2. The more students read, the better students will write, so it is really important to provide them exposure to good texts before writing.
  3. Students will be encouraged to write if the task is interesting, so it is really important to make it personalized, meaningful and authentic.
  4. Assessment should allow teachers and students to reflect and improve, so it is important to focus more on assessment for and as learning.
  5. Teachers need to train students to be an independent, autonomous, and long life learner, so it is really important to equip them with skills that allow them to do that even after the semester or the school year ends.

Further Readings

Weigle, S. C. (2009). Assessing Writing. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Williams, J. D. (2014). Preparing to Teach Writing: Research, Theory and Practice. New York, NY: Routledge.


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