Sunday, February 14, 2010

Process writing with the internet: Dr. Naci Kayaoglu describes a moveto change teacher and student perceptions of the writing process usingthe internet.(WRITING).


Creative writing course, originally uploaded by Helen in Wales. USA, LLC

.Subscribe to USA TODAY.

ArabicChinese (Simplified)Chinese (Traditional)DeutchEspanolFrenchItalianJapaneseKoreanPortugueseRussian

It has been futile, until recently, to try to run an effective writing course in our EFL classroom setting in view of the fact that writing is the one course Turkish teachers of English least want to teach and students the least to learn (Ozbay, 2004). This image of writing has been based on the inherited, narrow conception of writing based on the notions of correct grammar and usage. Since writing has been long perceived to be in the service of grammar, structural forms have been inevitably major concerns of students. Therefore; it is not surprising to see that the writing course turns out to consist of error correction and mechanical writing exercises without having any learning experience of lasting value. As if to make the situation worse, many writing textbooks provide various structure-focused activities. Even in thought-provoking writing activities in communicative-based writing books, not surprisingly, many EFL teachers end up focusing typically on, for example, the use of conjunctions as a safe heaven to stay away from a process-focused approach to writing.

However, it is unfair to view teachers as scapegoats for the failures in the implementation of an effective writing course. There are many plausible reasons for both teachers and students to develop negative attitudes towards the writing course. To begin with, EFL settings, perhaps ESL settings as well to some extent, suffer greatly from a lack of pragmatic instruments. In a system where teachers remain only a source of feedback, a strong power hierarchy is automatically created, deterring students from personally getting involved in the writing process. Nothing can be more tedious for students than having to write all the time for their teachers as the absolute and only audience. It becomes almost impossible for students to develop a personal voice and sustain motivation. Consequently, the primary concern of EFL teachers is with the completed written product, not with the strategies or processes involved in its production.

With the dominance of product approaches, students are expected to meet certain standards of prescribed English rhetorical style and produce a text similar to a model provided which is also reflected on measurement of finished products. In the product-oriented approach, students' compositions are only seen as the visible proof of their knowledge of the systems of rules used to produce texts (Hyland, 2002). This approach, ignoring the process and complexity of writing, reduces the process to just exploring available syntactic choices.

The process approach and EFL settinas

Having emerged from the individualist-expressivist tendency, the process approach is thought to liberate students from the correct grammar and usage based perception of writing. It is an approach which offers several opportunities for students to get involved personally in the writing process (Colin et al, 2003). The process approach:

* gives priority to content, purpose and audience rather than form and structure;

* focuses on the writing process rather than the product; gives time to students to write multiple drafts, working on feedback not only from teachers but also other sources,

* encourages individual conferences with students focusing on the problems with their writing rather than formal correctness;

* puts students and their ideas in writing at the centre of attention;

* emphasizes recursiveness of discourse;

* avoids correcting or grading first drafts in order to allow for revisions;

* gives the teacher a facilitator role rather than an authoritarian one;

* encourages teachers to intervene throughout the writing process in such a way that writing tasks become interactive, leading to the final product smoothly.

This relatively new ideology places great emphasis on developing a personal voice, and also promotes the concept of learner-centredness but strangely enough, it appears to fail to create the expected result since the effective use of a process approach in an EFL setting is quite difficult in practice. Teachers of English who are quite enthusiastic about implementing a process approach at the beginning are seen to give up.

As far as the EFL context is concerned, process-oriented writing instruction suffers greatly from the lack of a real audience and consequently from sustained motivation for writing.

Second, the recursive model based on pre-writing activities and multiple drafts (Grabe & Kaplan 1996) requires a continuous circle of feedback between drafts, which is not easy to achieve in traditional classes. Third, feedback options are very much limited to the teacher. Finally this complex, recursive and creative-process approach creates an extremely large amount of paper to deal with for the teachers. For these reasons many process-oriented writing courses end up as product approaches.

Product approaches, on the other hand, do not give much attention to the process involved in writing, ignoring the value of the conscious and unconscious decisions which learners make. Exercises are mostly designed to draw students' attention to certain features of the model text.

Regardless of whether it has been a process or product approach, our students have had very good reasons to resist writing instruction being imposed by us over the years. From the very beginning typical EFL settings fail to liberate students from the narrow definition of writing based on the notions of correct grammar and usage. Second, our students do not experience feelings of satisfaction or enjoyment with writing. None of the activities can produce sustained motivation unless they are meaningful to students. Third, students suffer from lack of audience, which could be a very strong incentive to motivate themselves. Finally, the current EFL environment does not allow students to develop a personal voice and get involved in the writing process.

A new era for the effective implementation of a writing course

Internet-based applications came at a time when we had almost given up hope for the effective implementation of a writing course in EFL environments. Due to the new knowledge-sharing technology, a transparent exchange of information and ideas between different participants in the learning environment has become quite easy, fast and relatively inexpensive. With the help of internet-based applications teachers of English can now provide opportunities for students to publish their work instantly online and exchange their ideas, making themselves heard. Some of the revolutionary effects of using online internet systems in respect of writing instruction is that students can: (a) have a real audience, (b) have a voice, (c) enjoy self-discovery (d) utilize a variety of feedback options, (e) have sustained motivation. These are what we have been desperate for.

Having suffered from a lack of audience other than the teacher, from a lack of sustained motivation and recursive feedback and also as a result of being limited to the narrow definition of writing in our heavily EFL-dominated environment, we have designed a forum-based common blog, http://, with the help of handy editing tools among many user-friendly services, mostly free, which led us in a few steps to create our own internet-based application. This includes many features of what is commonly known as a weblog. In this pilot work were eleven classes of 260 university first year students attending an intensive English Prep Program where writing was taught for four hours a week, in addition to reading, speaking, listening, grammar and language use.

This forum-based blog is a web-based space for the students to write and send their weekly writing assignments, with an option for other readers to read and comment on them. Writing instruction in the program was focused on paragraph-essay types including descriptive, process, compare-contrast and cause-effect. Each student was given a password to enter the system and submit their writing assignments online in their own place in their class column. The blog allowed our students to post multiple drafts for the same topic depending on the feedback received, so that they could see their progress looking at the first and final one. The students were also encouraged to comment on their peers' papers in comments columns. The fact that all postings, edits and feedbacks were automatically kept and accessed by date, topic, class, meant that students miraculously created a very interactive and dynamic atmosphere where they interacted with each other and readers at the same time. The idea of receiving comments on their compositions from others meant a lot to EFL students in a setting where traditionally syntactic aspects of the language are heavily emphasized. For most of them, it was the first time they discovered the communicative aspects of using a foreign language because they did have a voice and enjoyed being heard.

After a very short training session, teachers of English found it very easy and friendly to use with their students. Since all postings were automatically stored by date or theme all teachers could keep track of all the students' postings and readers' responses in a very speedy and manageable way. Similarly, the students could see not only what comments other teachers put on other students but also observe what their peers in the same or other classes wrote. Very promising progress has been made on the way to the successful implementation of a process-oriented writing approach. Following a four-month pilot trial, the following benefits in relation to the use of internet-based applications for writing instruction were observed from the interviews held with students and teachers.

* Students developed a more positive attitude towards writing.

* It was a great help to keep all papers (postings) well organized, and accessible at anytime any place, with the internet connection.

* Students avoided time-consuming work spending considerably less time on revising and editing their d rafts.

* Students not only got comments from but also wrote comments to their peers. Students could work on a daily basis, going beyond the traditional classroom.

* The automatic archive of all past postings by date or theme enabled teachers to maintain a systematic feedback system between different groups of students.

* The students had a real audience other than the teacher and had sustained motivation as a result of the continuous circle of feedback on their drafts.

* The students found a real opportunity to publish their work instantly online in a very interactive, authentic, attractive atmosphere since the forum-based blog is not static; rather it is designed to be constantly updated for the students to post their writing, comments and responses.

* Technically it was easy to use a forum-based blog as in our example because it did not require much technical or internet knowledge. Therefore, any school or class can start it without having any background or preparation.

* The use of a forum-based blog created a sense of belonging, a more friendly atmosphere connecting students with other students and teachers.

* As the majority of the students were familiar with the internet and use it for a variety of purposes, it was quite easy for them to welcome the new application.

Nevertheless, the integration of the internet-based application into current writing instruction was sometimes painful. Because of the limited number of computers for use at school where there were more than 1500 students, many students had to go to Internet cafes. This new approach to writing created a lot of work for the teachers as they had to read many papers and provide individual feedback for each draft. Interestingly there was some resentment on the part of the learners when the teacher was a bit late giving feedback to students. In spite of our training sessions, a substantial number of writing instructors chose to give feedback, as a priority, mainly on form rather than content. When discussed with the instructors, they confirmed that the students gave the impression of being ignored if there weren't any language corrections. This shows that we have been going through a recovery period from the deep-seated misconception of writing. Although most of the students appeared to be very much interested in using the forum-based hlog and reading what and how other students expressed themselves and their ideas, they were mostly reluctant to give any comment to their peers' papers, which indicates there is more to be done to help students overcome their fear of making errors and enhance self-esteem and confidence.

Perhaps the most significant result of this project is that a great majority of the students have extended their writing in a foreign language from a traditional teacher-centred environment to outside the school, giving them an experience of lasting value. We are now getting gently away from the idea of traditionally fulfilling an assignment and thereby completing the course requirement to the enjoyment of self-discovery and self-realization in and through writing instruction in an Ell environment. This, in return, has fostered independence and given the pleasure of mastering the conventions of writing. In view of the promising results from the project, we have now decided to extend the use of internet-based application for writing purposes to the whole prep program of 1500 students in a search for a more enriched and workable pedagogic model, involving a larger audience and greater participation.


Coffin, C., Curry, M.J., Goodman, S., HewingS, A., Lillis, T.M., & Swann, J. (2003) Teaching Academic Writing.: Routledge: London

Grabe, W. & Kaplan, R.B. (1996) Theory and practice of writing. New York: Longman

Hyland, Ken. (2002) Teaching and Researching Writing. Great Britain: Pearson Education.

Ozbay, A.. (2004) "Tertiary level Ell teachers perceptions of the role and importance of writing skill in English language teaching, teachers' perceptions of writing skill in English Language teaching". Unpublished MA Thesis. Karadeniz Technical University, Trabzon. Turkey

Dr. M. Naci Kayaoglu has been involved in language teaching at university level for 21 years. He received his Ph.D from Bristol University in TEFL in 1997, he started lecturing at the Department of English Language and Literature at Karadeniz Technical University, Trabzon, Turkey. He is currently working as Director of School of Foreign Languages, which runs English, German, French and Russian courses at university. His main interests include psychology of learning, educational technology, learning strategies, translation studies and staff development.


Source Citation
Kayaoglu, Naci. "Process writing with the internet: Dr. Naci Kayaoglu describes a move to change teacher and student perceptions of the writing process using the internet." Modern English Teacher 18.2 (2009): 48+. Academic OneFile. Web. 14 Feb. 2010.
Document URL

Gale Document Number:A205859214
ArabicChinese (Simplified)Chinese (Traditional)DeutchEspanolFrenchItalianJapaneseKoreanPortugueseRussian
Personalized MY M&M'S® Candies(Web-Page) off Bestsellers at
(Album / Profile) the Official Coca-Cola Store!

No comments: