THE APPROACH - Paragraph Writing for Mature Weak Students

on Thursday, 21 July 2011
Teaching paragraphs to 0 proficiency students is indeed challenging. I'm given the task to try to get a bunch of form 5 students to try to write proper paragraphs about simple topics and it is indeed very challenging.



Refer to Russell Peters Red White and Brown if you don't get the joke in the above statement. HAHAHAHA can't stop laughing..


So how does teaching paragraph writing go for classes that have nearly NO proficiency in English? It has to be done step by step.

1. You have to provide example paragraphs. I know it isn't WHAT I WANT EXACTLY, but getting them to copy an example paragraph does help a little bit. At least, they can envision how the paragraph looks like.

2. Omit a few sentences for them to place their own. Use the simplest of sentences. I always like to use sentences like:
I like to...
I don't like...
It is...
... because these sentences somehow ring some bells even with 0 proficiency students. Mind you that these are still 17 year olds who still in one way or another stumble upon sentences like these.

3. Give them background information about the topic you are writing. This is essential for mature students. Let's say the topic you're writing about is about haze, it is good to explain something extra for the students to take back. Background information empowers them and they feel that they know about the issue or topic that they are writing about which makes them more comfortable trying to make their own sentences.

4. Split the lesson and try not to do too many things in one lesson. Yes, this will slow you down and you can't do much with them but bear in mind that these are 0 proficiency students. Better do 20% successfully rather than do 80% with only 1% of success (I know some of my lecturers would ask Just how would you measure that percentage? I CAN'T OK?? It's just gut instinct telling me if the class was successful. Teachers are allowed that sort of privilege). Sometimes, I give them breaks in between and talk about something light and out of topic, just so that the sleepy ones don't get too exhausted trying to do something heavy like paragraph writing.

Aih.... let's hope this works.


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