The Challenges of Learning to Write

Category: Ilm o Amal

Motivating students to write can be a challenge, especially in an age when short forms of communication, such as text and memes are the norm. In this month’s Ilm o Amal, TRC staff looks at the problems most students face when writing and how teachers can help overcome them.

The period a child spends in school is a crucial time in his or her development. It is at this time that the speed at which students are learning is extremely fast. Take writing for example. By the time a student reaches secondary school, he or she will be expected to write essays with several paragraphs. Students will also be expected to organise their essays in a way that they contain an introduction, arguments with supporting evidence in the body of the essay, and conclusions.

However, teaching the English language is a vast territory, and when it comes to writing many students stop putting in the effort after facing initial struggles. Students who are writing often struggle in various areas such as: grammar, spelling, lack of ideas, disorganized thoughts and a lack of interest in the topic of the assignment.

Are Your Students Struggling with Writing?

If you pay close attention to your students’ writings, you will be able to identify signs that they are struggling. Some of these signs are:

Disorganised thoughts and lack of structure in a piece of writing

A reluctance to do writing assignments

Generally poor spelling and grammar

There are several ways you can help your students develop their writing skills. Young people generally tend to have short attention spans. A research on adult attention spans that was conducted in 2015, found that they had attention spans of about 8 seconds. We can safely assume that for young students’ the average attention span is even shorter. Given such short attention spans, here are few activities you can try out in your classroom to address each of the above signs and help improve your students’ writing.

Disorganised thoughts and lack of structure in the piece of writing

Before your students start to write, have a brainstorming session with the whole class. This will generate several ideas. Any student(s) who feels stuck about what to write, can be inspired by the ideas that other students have to share. Ask students to orally share their ideas before asking them to write. You can perhaps jot down the ideas on the board to support your students.

Alternatively, you can allow your students to work together on assignments. This can be done in pairs, or groups or even the whole class. This can also help them start to think about the structure of their essays.

A reluctance to do writing assignments

To overcome the reluctance to write, try giving your students writing prompts. Writing prompts will help your students by compelling them to start writing and can even help guide their prose.

Another way to help students overcome their reluctance to write is by asking them to write freestyle. Let your students write freely for some time. ‘Allow’ them to ignore any writing rules. This should help get their creative juices flowing and hopefully they will begin to enjoy the process.

Yet another way to motivate students to write is by being flexible and giving them a choice of topics. You can let them choose from a list of approved topics or even ask them to pick whatever they want to write about.

Engaging students by providing them with a greater purpose is another way to motivate students to write. You can do this by creating unique assignments such as writing blog posts or say a brochure to attract parents to their school.

Generally poor spelling and grammar

Give your students plenty of reading material that embodies what you want from them. Give them samples of good writing and go through it with them collectively in the classroom, so they know exactly what you are looking for.

Another way to help your students overcome spelling and grammar issues is by providing them with writing tools. Writing tools can include anything that will help your students to write. You can give your students a list of transitional words and phrases. You can also give them a list of clichés or words that they could avoid in order to improve their writing.

Teaching your students to write is an ongoing process. The key is for the teacher to seize any opportunity he or she is able to for the students to write and improve what they put down on paper. Using these tips you will hopefully be able to motivate and guide your students to successfully improve their writing.

September 2019