TI-AIE: Supporting independent writing in English

What this unit is about

Students at secondary school are expected to write various texts in English. This might range from words to learn; notes about grammar, or sentences such as answers to comprehension questions; to longer texts, such as compositions, stories, letters, reports, applications and so on. These types of texts should require students to communicate through writing using their own ideas and language. However, often what students write is copied from the textbook or blackboard, or they reproduce dictated or memorised answers. Most students do not compose texts themselves.

While this copying and memorising may help some students in exams, it doesn’t help them to develop the skills they need in order to write in English independently for real-life purposes. This is a skill that will be useful for their future personal and professional lives.an opportunity to think critically and imaginatively. Students will develop the skills and confidence to write independently if they get lots of opportunities to talk about their ideas and practise speaking and writing about them. It is not enough for them to see – and copy – examples of ‘good’ language. It is also through trying to express themselves that students become better writers.

This unit explores two strategies that you can use to help your students move from copying and memorising to composing their own texts:

  • Facilitating student talk on the chosen topic. By talking to each other and you, students share and develop their ideas. This also allows them to practise and experiment with the language to express their ideas in writing.
  • Teaching students writing independently involves giving them access to language that they can model their writing on.

When students are writing independently, they will make mistakes. This is a normal part of language learning. By noticing and recording the mistakes, you can direct student learning more effectively through your use of positive and encouraging feedback.

What you can learn in this unit