English as Foreign Language: Writing Skills Development

Introduction

The topic for this integrated unit of work would be in terms of imparting writing skills to particular group of English as Foreign Language (EFL) pupils. The theme would be in developing their communication (including grammar) macro skills, and vocabulary building, such that young pupils would be reasonably able to express their thoughts and ideas in a cohesive and coherent manner. Besides, through a series of activities and actions oriented towards self-learning and gaining language development skills, it is sought to improve the English language skills of non-native speakers, especially for those pupils for whom English may be a foreign language. Rationale

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The rationale for the choice of topic is seen from the context of learning the basics of communicative skills during formative years which these pupils are presently going through. During these critical formative years, it is necessary that correct language development inputs are inculcated which could bulwark and underpin future studies. The choice of this topic is based on allowing pupils to develop their writing skills through their own preferences and interests. Besides, it is also necessary to make such interactions enjoyable and interesting to both the teacher and the taught. By far, good communication skills in the English language have become a major need in studying and later career building for pupils, and this is more pronounced in cases of EFL pupils. Through Activity Lesson-based teaching and counseling, the initial difficulties faced by EFL pupils are sought to be remedied thus paving the way for a strong and firm foundation for more advanced studies.

This is evident when most parents today understand the importance of the English language as a vehicle of oral and written communication and the need for children to be able to perform adequately in English language testing tests. Besides, when considering long terms education prospects of their wards, the need for a robust knowledge of English is most certainly needed.

Time frame: 6 weeks

Profile of target group participants: 24 students of Grade 4. of age 6 -8 years. Knowledge of the degree of learning is slightly above average but not at the levels of native speakers of the English language.

Aims and Objectives: While the teaching faculty would most certainly guide and tutor the pupils, it would also be necessary for the students to display initiative, enthusiasm, and interest for the subject matters being introduced to them for learning. They would make observations, develop skills relating to taking down notes, record skills, and also try to locate resources in their textbooks and tutorials. These pupils would also be taught how to share common knowledge among themselves in their classrooms and study in an interactive and participative manner.

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At this stage students have a fairly basic knowledge about English language and have fundamental reading and writing skills. Students at this Grade are comfortable with uncomplicated writing. This level nevertheless needs to be improved upon, since new learning needs to be inculcated..

Teaching activities on skills in well structured and co-ordinated structure

serial Lesson Skills taught Expected outcomes
1. Activity Lesson 1
1stweek
Clarity of expressions Interactive writing passages on topic of their own choice
2.. Activity Lesson 2

2ndweek

Object recognition and cognitive abilities making sense from pictures Ignite critical/ communicative skills of students- innovative views of common subjects
3. Activity Lesson 3

3stweek

Listening skills Gain listening benefits from interactive sessions with peer groups
4. Activity Lesson 4

4thweek

Differentiating sounds and homogenous words Through class and group interactive sessions gain better command over words
5. Activity Lesson 5

5thweek

Developing writing skills Students could learn to writing correct and clear words
6. Activity Lesson 5
6thweek
Vocabulary building Use of appropriate words in correrc context

Objectives (Training goals and learning outcomes)

The students need to work out in order to understand basic nuances in correct usage of grammar, diction, pronunciation and vocabulary development such that they are able to carry out assigned tasks and further their knowledge and skill based approach to learning the English language well. There needs to be a focused Activity Lesson or task based approach to learning that could serve the goals and objectives of study. At each stage of learning, both teacher and the taught need to work in sync in order to achieve short term learning targets, assimilate these well enough to move on to the next stage.

Activity Lesson One

Communication

Could we do without sleep

All living beings need to sleep during night in order to repair and rejuvenate living cells. The fact that we tire out after a full day’s work is enough justification for the sleep process to take command and offer us around eight hours of solid sleep in a night. However, sleep is considered a psychological brain programming that could be altered to suit human requirements. If we were to switch off the brain’s sleep programming mechanism, it is quite possible that we could do without sleep for the rest of our lives and yet be hale, hearty and healthy without feeling the ill effects of sleep deprivation. Insomniac patients would find ready cures for their chronic ailments and people, especially students could have more productive hours of work and study. Yet going against nature’s law could also have risks and dangers, especially in the long term since the dangers of non sleep over protracted periods have not been adequately researched.  The group could be asked to build on some interesting interactive communicative subjects like need for sleep; good effects of laughter, dangers of drug taking for pleasure, and so on

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Individual lesson plan and tasks/activities

In this segment, initially, forming words, phrases and sentences would be carried out.

Activity Lesson Two

Carefully watch this picture and write sentences about what you see

Picture, activity Lesson Two
Source: Slide 19: Teaching listening skills (Forwarded by customer)

Now, study the following picture and write several sentences about what you have seen:

Picture, activity Lesson Two
Source: Slide 19: Teaching listening skills (Forwarded by customer)

Now compare and contrast your findings in two pictures above

What do you find and why?

Activity Lesson

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Activity Lesson: Construct a short story based on this picture

Work Activity Lesson:

  1. Observe the above pictures and write short sentences about each of them
  2. What are the differences you observe regarding these pictures?
  3. What are the main features that have caught your attention in these pictures?
  4. If you wish to delete any aspects in the above picture what would you do
  5. If you wish to add something to these pictures what would you add?

Activity Lesson Three :Developing listening skills

Questions and Answers Sessions

Students need to elaborate and expand on these communicative  topics of general scholar interest:

  1. On stimulating and invoking learners ….. Elaborate on this point.
  2. Word processing skills. Invite learners to exchange facts, opinions, deliberations, etc.
  3. Providing reasons for communication : Ask for personal reasons.
  4. Providing new language.
  5. Using visual aids for communications. .. elaborate on this subject.

Activity Choice :For children in their formative and English language building age group, it is important that they need to listen as much as they speak, in order to gain overall learning skills as is the main objective of this Unit of work.

Thus, this unit of work considers listening as a prime part of learning through:

  1. Hearing peer groups and classmates narrate prose and stores, recite poetry or deliver small notes on some interesting contemporary subject. Besides, the scope could also be increased through question answer sessions in which two or more pupils participate and others listen. The outcomes of participation could be tested through subject understanding probes from individual students
  2. In the event the listening sessions are difficult, the teacher himself/ herself could deliver pieces of prose/poetry and gain the feedback from individual students.
  3. Teacher could assign learning/ hearing sessions between groups as interactive participants and assess group and individual performance. Pictures could also be used as effective learning tools.

The ingredients of effective pictures need to be drawn up.

The ingredients of effective pictures
Source: Slide 33: Teaching listening skills (Forwarded by customer)

Structure and Progression

For Grade 4 EFL students, direct communication system initially explains entire gamut of these pictures and also offers his/her personal choices for their interpretations. The imagination of pupils and also help them build speech, cognitive and value based recognition, inculcating new and dynamic meanings for their imagined versions, while importantly also serving as a vehicle for educational development the fun way. Here the teacher’s role is critical in that s/he needs to drive the learning message home, while at the same time make it an enjoyable, entertaining and exhilarating process as well. If s/he relies too much on one at the cost of another, it would certainly fail to produce the desired results. Too much of knowledge based activities without fun, for Grade 4 students would make it boring and tedious, and they may become reluctant to repeat this exercise at a future date and time. They would, in simple terms develop a repulsion and dislike for education being thrust on to them, perhaps even without their consent, and this may have adverse effects of being discarded unceremoniously.

Again, if there is too much doses of excitement and enjoyment, the critical educative aspect would be missed and the Activity Lesson exercise would well for short of its educative purpose, aims and objectives of this study activity lesson or exercise.

Importance of this study:

  • objective, value based and purposeful,
  • Credibility and genuineness to such programmes.
  • Group participation and involvement
  • Offers every member in the group to offer their contribution and make these Activity Lesson based exercises exciting and educative,
  • Developing their macro skills of word building, speech and public speaking skills
  • Pronunciation, intonation and other related language development skills.
  • Working harmoniously in teams and instilling leadership and communicative skills in them.

Phonetics and Pronunciation

At this stage, the young pupils need to be guided on simple aspects of communication like phonology, intonation, stress and rhythm in order that a firm premise for correct use of words and pronunciations are provided.

Activity Lesson Four

  1. Repeat difficult sounding words till such time they become familiar in their lips
  2. Difficulties with other sounds could be compared and the differentiations noted and kept in mind for future usage.
  3. Explaining how to make sounds by asking students to provide a word. Containing sound- a man and a boy and a — husband and …. etc.
  4. Construction of independent sentences
  5. Homogenous sounding words

Besides, their contextual meanings in various sentences could also be framed and provided to students for understanding differences. Students need to be told the meanings of like sounding words in different contexts.When speaking about sounds and their respective meanings, it is important to understand that the English language contains many words that are similar in sound and pronunciation, and yet possess different meanings and implications. Students need to be provided the sounds and meanings of words like write/right, whether/weather, here/hear, eight/ate, sun/son, pale/pail, pair/pare, soul/sole,

First the teacher shows the voice intonations and correct pronunciation of the words and repeats it for some time. Then students repeat these sentences till these are perfectly learned.

Activity Lesson Four

  1. Am I speaking loudly enough? Can you all hear me? Here is a copy of today’s newspaper I could care less whether I get the job or not Today the weather is very bright and sunny.
  2. Would you like an apple or a pear for dissert? I need to pare my fingernails today.
  3. I got this jacket in the Summer sale The ship sets sail at 6 am tomorrow
  4. The sun is coming down in the east or the west? He has a small son who is studying in Grade 4
  5. I’ll see you outside of the cinema at eight He ate his breakfast at 9.00 am yesterday
  6. Have you ever read the book A Tale of Two Cities? This zoo tiger has a handsome tail
  7. You feel weak when you’re in love. Sunday is the last day of the week

Activity lesson 5

The main Activity Lesson types that could be generally considered for Grade 4 students would be as follows:

Teaching pronunciation ppt: forwarded by customer
Slide 28: Teaching pronunciation ppt: forwarded by customer

Types of activities used

At this stage, it is necessary for the teacher to ensure that the work provided to these young children at formative age is not too burdensome, thereby creating unlearning of what they have already learned, or in contemplation of learning. Essentially, the learning and language process and building is a brick by brick process, adding value and substance to what is continually being imbibed by them, slowly yet surely. Thus, students need to move at reasonable pace, keeping their tender age and brain development process in mind and besides, knowledge needs to be formative and not otherwise. If a little bit of fun, enjoyment and creativity is added to the process, it would certainly enhance the positive moods and add to enjoyable and constructive learning, on their own volition. It is the primary duty of teachers to ensure that learning at this stage is relatively stress free, enjoyable and commensurating with the age and mental capacities of the seekers.

At this stage, especially for EFL, who are not native speakers, it is necessary that learning be inculcated at their own reasonable pace to be self sustaining, retentive and perhaps forming the basis and premise for future knowledge acquisition. Each student may have his/her individualistic styles, like rote and learn, instant recapitulation, slower learning and writing etc. All these need to be borne in mind by the teacher. These may not exactly be seen in Group activities, since in these kinds of task based exercises, it is the final overall contributed output that matters, but perhaps in individual based exercises these may come to the forefront.

However, students do gain through joint efforts, perhaps imbibing the good and positive characteristics of more able and smarter classmates, which is a healthy sign for teachers also since the overall group and class learning competencies also matter for the teachers and could be a reflection of the teacher’s own teaching capacities and teaching skills. Moreover, the teacher himself/herself is in a learning process, gaining experience and honing skills in its actual and empirical demonstration and interaction with students. A two way positive communication process, imitated and sustained by the teachers could go a long way, not only in enhancing their own teaching skills, but could also build stronger bonds between the teacher and the taught. This enduring nexus could form the pivotal structure for better communication process between the two entities, paving the way for smoother and fruitful interaction and interfacing between interested parties.

Activity 5: Teacher needs to ingrain basic writing skills among students at this level.

Repetitive writing exercises would form a good basis in this Unit of work. This exercise also considers graded exercises in order to test and strengthen writing skills of students at this stage and Grade.

Writing skills
Activity 5.Writing skills

Activity lesson 6

Activity lesson 6
(Alphabetize: Grade for (grade 4) vocabulary list three, n.d).

The above work exercises relate to those of Grade 4 and are integrated into the work Activity Lesson input system. They are meant to test basic work skill knowledge of pupils at this level and to give them a larger vocabulary besides testing basic knowledge of basic alphabets.(Alphabetize: Grade for (grade 4) vocabulary list three, n.d).

The types of activities are word recognition through pictures, basic language skill developments, cognition and writing skills and other macro skills involved in identifying, correlating and recognizing objects. The teacher has the duty to ensure that all members of the group respond well to these works and are able to gain through these experiences. For some EFL students, it may be difficult for them to express themselves in the English language, and it is therefore necessary for teachers to be patient with them and allow them to study at their own reasonable pace and style. At this stage, it is also necessary for teachers to grade the levels of English work exercises imparted to these pupils, starting from easier to latter difficult ones, once they are able to cope with the workload. In the event some students are behind schedule, it would be necessary to offer individualized attention till such time they are at level with the rest of the class, failing which there would not be consistencies in the teaching and learning processes. Besides, there are also concerns about how low scoring EFL students would be able to cope with advanced learning programs, if they have not be able to address earlier exercises adequately.

Therefore, it is the onus of the teaching faculty to ensure that study groups function well and their efforts are well rewarded in terms of good grades and better knowledge and, in this context, assimilation of work skills. Perhaps one of the main benefits of group formations in imparting English language skills to Grade 4 students lies in the belief that peer groups could collectively join in work exercises, thus rendering such tasks easier and comfortable for individual students. Besides, there are also comfort zones for these children in that the inadequacies and shorts of one individual or group could be compensated by the competence and ingenuity of others. Thus, overall, it would be possible to gain greater task output and student benefits than in individualized conditions. However, the group system could also be the cause of delayed or non-standard tasks accomplished by either one member of the Activity Lesson task group or several of them. Besides, when considering the overall efforts, it may also be difficult to pinpoint individual brilliance and competencies since all students have pooled together their resources to address these tasks and the net effect is a collective and not a singular one.

Integrated assessment items

Before taking up the aspect of assessment items, it is necessary to consider the various elements surrounding English language development skills; it is believed that the cycle for development follows the following pattern:

Integrated assessment items

In the case of EFL students, the main aspect that needs to be kept in mind that English not being their first language, they may perhaps not be as exposed to the language and its nuances as perhaps a native English speaker and writer would. Initially, especially in the formative early years of brain and skill development of students, this could be a handicap, but this could be improved and brought to par with practice and strict learning regimen that involves all aspects and factors impacting upon learning skills. Besides, there are also concerns regarding how students in a group would imbibe knowledge, especially if they come from diverse cultural and regional non English backgrounds. It is here that the skills and sagacity of the teaching community comes into play. Thus, it would be necessary for teachers to identify and recognize individual skills and talents and also conduct complete skill profiling of each pupil in the class and in group.

Thus, it would be possibly for skill sets to be correctly trained and directed in order to gain the best benefits and advantages for the respective students, both as individuals and as part of interactive group activities spread over the weeks of training and skill imparting.

Oral performance is essentially individualistic like poetry, nursery rhymes and object identification which could be done by EFL pupils with some training and guidance from teachers. Again, there may be task based studies based on understanding- for instance a story would be provided and the students would be asked to answer questions provided at the end of it. Again, through development of picture clues, the student would be required to string together a short story or parable.

Next part of this unit of work would need to discuss about the kind of Activity Lesson or Tasks that could be best done through whole class participation, as individual work, Paired work, Group work between 3-4 students. At the outset, it is important to understand that at the Grade 4 level, there are many tasks that cannot be performed alone or even in pairs, or even in small groups. On the left hand side of the page, the teacher has to note down the kind of activities or tasks indulged in, and, on the right hand side the kind of setting that could best facilitate this.

These are best left to the wisdom and experience of qualified and trained teachers who are able to assess which kind of activities, or tasks are effectively executed by which categories. However, the teacher must also need to exercise discretion and caution in selected the categories correctly, and most of all in the best interests of the participating respondents, without putting them into undue strain, or discomfort. Besides, activities should be enjoyable and children should ardently look forward to participating in them, whether individually, through groups or collectively.

Unit of work Kind of activity envisaged
A Individual and group presentations
B Speaking games
C Unraveling jigsaw puzzles
D Individual, team and group Role playing games
E Drama and story telling
F Simulation exercises
G Debating, interactive talks and speeches
H Interviewing
I Information gaps filling exercise
J Conferencing
K Collective Brainstorming sessions
  1. Unit of work –Presentation lesson exercises – Relates to sessions on developing communication skills in the English language
  2. Unit of work – Speaking Games lesson exercise: The nature of these games demand group participation since the outcome is to judge the ultimate winner. This cold be made interesting by offering good topics and materials for speaking games
  3. Unit of work – solving Jigsaw puzzles lesson exercises: More of a brain game involving diagnostic and problem solving skills could be individual based. However, members of study groups may be individually given jigsaw puzzles to be solved as quickly as possible
  4. Unit of work – Role playing exercises: These are individually focused and yet could be played in interactive groups, involving the whole class, depending upon the roles available.
  5. Unit of work Drama and story telling exercises: This is akin to role playing. Individuals and pairs could take turns in drama and story narration; even dramas could be performed by groups with different characters.
  6. Unit of work- Simulation techniques exercises: These would definitely involve a degree of group interplay and interfacing depending upon the kind of simulation lessons taken up. However, these could also be performed by individuals and pairs on a smaller scale
  7. Unit of work – Debating on a relevant and burning subject: Depending upon the depth and scope of such deliberations these activities could even engaged even the whole class or study groups.
  8. Unit of work – Interviews; Essentially, these are paired interviews wherein one person responds to the queries and comments of the other. However, it is not also unlikely that a group addresses another group in interview sessions.
  9. Unit of work – Information gap : Could be performed by individuals or pairs, or in groups
  10. Unit of work Conferencing lesson techniques : This could be in the form of one student addressing a group or several groups addressing each other in a learning Activity Lesson resource module
  11. Unit of work – Brainstorming sessions: Would be most appropriate and beneficial if this involves the whole class or study groups. This could take the form of open house discussions without barriers, allowing each participant an opportunity to voice his/her opinion. Perhaps one of the major vehicles of oral communication are brainstorming sessions in which a lot of ideas, relevant or otherwise are gathered, and a consensus ( if possible) is tried to be gained out of the muddle. For instance a topic like- Is there life in outer space could be thrown open to the respondent and each would be allowed to speak for say 5 minutes or so, finally an overall conclusion based on facts, opinions, statements, information, explanations and evidences is made.

Conclusions

It is widely believed that a Unit of study of this kind needs also to address various issues and limitations connected with EFL teaching, especially at the Grade Four levels. There also needs to be a generous use of audio and video clippings, web cast matters and sources from web libraries that could suitable address the matter of teaching English language to Grade IV students with an EFL background. Besides, there needs to be two way communication between teachers and the taught, in order to make such teaching a resounding success.

In retrospect, it is necessary to consider that there are certain fundamental norms and rules to be considered while dealing with EFL students. Characteristically, EFL are shy and reticent, maybe because of their cultural upbringing or social standards. According to some most students would be comfortable in group workings but if individual presentations were required they would shy off on one pretext or the other. Besides, their shy disposition needs to be done away through group interactions that would not only make them feel more confident and secure, but also allow them to face up to challenges and problems in their latter academic and professional lives. In Australia, for instance, the government offers ample scope and encouragement to EFL students on the condition that they would become permanently residence of the country. Thus, it is important that EFL students try to improve all round skills in English language in order to compete on equal footing with their native speaker counterparts. For this it is necessary for the teaching community to adopt a neutral stance and not treat them with differentiation. Once EFL and native students are treated at par, the assumed differences would disappear and both would have chances of doing well in academics.

Besides, there is also need for creating a conducive and task oriented approach to study of English language, especially since it is an important subject in any school curriculum. Teachers of the English language in smaller grades like IV need also to understand child psychology and behaviorism in order to tackle student issues more appropriately and strategically. Besides, there is also the urgent need for serving academic goals, like completion of curriculum, conduct of examinations and the role of teachers to provide evidence of actual performance in their roles. For this while it is quite necessary to forge partnerships for achieving goals and objectives, it is also necessary to understand and implement student progression plans and programs. These could be hindered by administrative bottlenecks, internal bickering and in the case of not-for-profit institutions, this could also be in terms of bureaucratic moorings and administrative lapses.

It is therefore, incumbent on the part of both administrators and teachers to chalk out proper and enforceable work plans and programs, simple, realistic and ground based that could be as enjoyable for young students as educative, absorbing and informative and affords them every opportunity to contribute to the cause of elementary education as to the need to enforce and instill discipline, a sense of direction and purpose and overall educational progress. As teachers, the unit of work carried out by them only serve to be the stepping stones, albeit important ones, in the children’s quest and thirst for knowledge and education, and to be able to serve their own career paths independently at a later stage of their lives, through the vehicle of education and studies.

Finally, the main question that would arise would be in terms of how the elementary educational foundation as envisaged in Grade IV studies has reinforced and sustained the progress path of the students in their future lives, which is a question that could only be best answered by the pupils themselves.

Reference List

Alphabetize: Grade for (grade 4) vocabulary list three. (n.d). Teach-nology.Com.

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NerdyTom. (2021, December 31). English as Foreign Language: Writing Skills Development. Retrieved from https://nerdytom.com/english-as-foreign-language-writing-skills-development/

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