Task-based Instruction for EFL Struggling College Writers

65 EFL freshman students were enrolled in a 4-hour writing course. Pretest results showed that the students could not put two words together. The posttest results showed a great improvement in writing ability. The students could write fluently and communicate easily. Spelling, punctuation and capitalization errors significantly decreased. Improvement was noted in essay length, neatness, mechanical correctness and style. Improvement was due to student factors and efficient task management factors. Although the students’ English was extremely poor, they were eager to learn. They accepted comments on their essays and were always ready to try again. Each week a variety of small writing tasks were practiced. For each task, the objective was stated, what to be performed was explained and illustrated by examples while students are attentive. Then the students practiced the task under supervision. Individual help was provided. Extension Activities were done in class within a time limit. At the end of the week, all the tasks were put together in writing a one-paragraph essay. Students were encouraged to write and not to worry about spelling, grammatical, punctuation or capitalization mistakes. I gave communicative feedback focusing on meaning and only errors related to tasks under study were highlighted. Feedback was provided on the presence and location of errors but no correct forms were provided. Self-editing and peer-editing were encouraged. Extra credit was given for good paragraphs. Quizzes were given every other week. They required completion of similar tasks or writing of an essay alternatively. Graded quizzes were returned with comments on strengths and weaknesses, and with words of encouragement. Answers were always discussed in class. A Powerpoint presentation will show samples of students’ essays, students’ views, and T-test results of the pre- and posttests, in addition to descriptive statistics of the quizzes to show the gradual improvement.

Prof. Reima Al-jarf
King Saud University
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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