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« Call for Presentations | Main | 2011 Back to School: Cameron Romney »

2011 Back to School: Wes Lang

What follows is a summary of the presentation given by Wes Lang

Task-based Writing Activities for Lower-Level University Students

By Wes Lang

Teaching writing to lower-level University students poses a challenge for teachers, so I wanted to offer a few suggestions that will hopefully make the process a little less painful.
I first offered what I call my “AME” principal, a guideline that can be used when designing writing tasks under the TBL framework.
In general, teachers should design tasks that are:
A – Authentic (something other than busy-work for students)
M – Meaningful (personalized for the learners whenever possible)
E – Engaging (students should generally be interested in completing the task)
I also gave some tips for teachers with lower-level learners who may not generally be interested in English. Some of the tips include: the importance of establishing rapport with your learners from the first day of class, providing both written and oral scaffolding to help learners with the task. See the Powerpoint slides below for the full list.
Finally, I demonstrated 3 different writing tasks for the participants:
Activity 1 – Short-story swap.
            Learners work in pairs to write an imaginary fairy tale using the “Once upon a time” structure. After writing one sentence, pairs swap stories and write one more sentence about the other story. Stories kept getting passed around the room, with each pair continuing the story from the previous pair. After a certain number of turns, the stories are returned to their original creators so they can see the finished product.
Activity 2 – Thank-you letter
            In pairs, one student writes a birthday present for the other on a small piece of paper. The pairs exchange their ‘presents’ by saying: “Happy Birthday, this is a present for you”. After opening their imaginary gift, they write a thank-you letter to their partner who they received the present from.
Activity 3 – Travel Postcard.
            Learners work in pairs to make a postcard from a travel destination of their choice, using travel brochures from a travel agency (brought in by the teacher). After making the postcard, they write a message to their teacher (or other students), imagining they are currently in that country. See the Powerpoint slides for real examples from my students.  

The PowerPoint Slides for this presentation can be viewed on HERE.


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