Some specialists believe that the development of spoken skills should forego literacy development. However, some recent researches have found that it is not advisable to follow this approach. The reason is that a delay in learning how to read and write does not promote speaking skills development, but interferes it. Thus, the question is how to make young English learners literate and to teach reading and writing, speaking and listening simultaneously. In the webinar, we have already discussed how to develop reading skills, and in this article, we are going to concentrate on teaching writing.
We have already discussed that in order to reduce stress during learning process children need scaffolding. Thus, it would be a great idea to use To/With/By approach (Cappellini, 2005; Mooney, 1990; Walter, 2004). What does it mean?
Writing TO students
A teacher uses a blackboard, a whiteboard or Watman paper in order to demonstrate HOW children should write. A teacher writes big (so that everyone sees everything clearly) letters, words or phrases and reads them with children.
A teacher can use handwriting manuals to facilitate learning on how to write letters and words. In case there is no possibility to utilize ready-made handwriting manuals, a teacher can encourage students to work in copybooks: a teacher (or a student themselves) can draw a letter in the copybook and encourage students to colour it with smaller letters (as in the picture).
In a similar way, a teacher can print out or draw illustrations to new vocabulary and ask children to write new words inside of it to colour it.
Writing WITH students
A teacher discusses with students some ideas, e.g. young students memorize new words and phrases, say them aloud and the teacher writes them down on the board. Alternatively, children come to the board in turns and write new letters, words or phrases, while the teacher assists in case of necessity.
It could be a good idea to create a lapbook together with children right at the lesson at this stage. Students can be divided into small groups of 4-5 students each, outline roles and create a lapbook on the topic. Make sure that you’ve demonstrated a good example and given clear instructions before starting work in groups.
In case young students already can write words and small phrases, this approach is to be used to develop further writing skills. For example, if you are teaching students how to write a story, then students can give some ideas on the topic and the teacher arranges them in a logical order on the blackboard. Or students can give ideas, a teacher writes them down on the blackboard, and a teacher encourages students to arrange the ideas in a logical order.
Writing BY students
In order to motivate students to write independently, a teacher can create a literacy centre in the classroom. What could be there? A teacher can place books, paper, markers, pencils, i.e. anything that will motivate students to colour, draw, read and write independently. There, students can read a book and create a poster for it. Or write a short play (dialogue) between book characters.
Let students make a project, for example, create an illustrated book or poster about a holiday, a pet, a plant, a season – whatever they are studying on other lessons and using the vocabulary and grammar they already know. In case they can’t write full sentences yet, students can write single words and phrases.
In case students can already write and the task is to improve their skills, then a teacher can suggest a topic and students demonstrate what they’ve learned and write short stories independently or in pairs or groups. Don’t forget about feedback after completing the task and, of course, praise the children.