On applying process approach in teaching writing skill for grade 10 non- Major students at Dong da high school

This very first chapter of the thesis is to introduce the rationale for the study, the aims and objectives of the study as well as the research questions which the study was to carry out to find out the answers. It also presents the scope of the study, an overview of the methods employed to conduct the research as well as the design of the study. 1.1 Rationale Needless to say, English has played a remarkable role in almost every aspect of life. In Viet Nam, it is regarded as one of the most important subjects at all level of education. Working as a teacher of English, I am particularly interested in teaching writing skill. Therefore, I am concerned with approaches and methods which can help to enhance the learners’ writing proficiency as well as facilitate their learning English as a second language. As I observed, learners, especially students at high school, are often afraid of writing which, as claimed by them, makes them anxious and unconfident when dealing with. Moreover, the teaching and learning writing skill in many schools mostly involves the using of the textbooks, many of which have, so far, been opened to considerable debate. To make the matter worse, writing, which has been considered one of the most difficult skills among reading, speaking, listening and writing, is not paid sufficient attention as it deserves. The ideas of investigating deeply into the case intrigued me when I accidentally had a chance to attend a seminar on process approach at Dong Da high school, which was carried out to help teachers’ understanding of the process approach and suggest on how to apply it with the new textbook “English 10”. Although the process approach has had a widespread influence on the teaching of writing throughout the English speaking world, its beneficial impact on learners in Viet Nam context is still questionable. In other words, whether teachers and students in Viet Nam have any difficulties with the applicability of such an approach in teaching and learning writing? If so, what are the main constraints in applying the approach with the available new textbook “English 10”? The thought motivated me to conduct a study to gain better understanding of the main constraints, if there are any, in applying process approach in particular a context of Viet Nam. 1.2 Objectives of the Study First, the research concentrates on investigating the current situation of teaching writing skill at Dong Da high school with grade 10, non-major students. Secondly, the thesis will make an attempt to find out the main constraints in applying process approach to the teaching and learning of writing skill in the given context. Finally, the study is aimed at suggesting some feasible solutions to help teachers and students at the school improve the quality of teaching and learning writing skill. 1.3 .Research Questions and Research Methods In order to achieve the research objectives, the study was designed to find out the answers to the following questions: 1. What are the teachers’ methods and strategies in teaching writing skill? 2. What would be done to improve the teaching of writing skill? A combination of methods was chosen to achieve the research aim and objectives, including qualitative research and survey research. An extensive review of literature is made first to examine approaches in teaching writing skill, critically focusing on relevant literature on the process approach in teaching the writing skill. Besides, survey questionnaires were delivered to both the samples of teachers and students to obtain their teaching and learning methods and strategies of writing skill. Semi- structure interviews for both selected teachers and students in the samples are followed to clarify participants’ ideas.

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Chapter 1: Introduction This very first chapter of the thesis is to introduce the rationale for the study, the aims and objectives of the study as well as the research questions which the study was to carry out to find out the answers. It also presents the scope of the study, an overview of the methods employed to conduct the research as well as the design of the study. Rationale Needless to say, English has played a remarkable role in almost every aspect of life. In Viet Nam, it is regarded as one of the most important subjects at all level of education. Working as a teacher of English, I am particularly interested in teaching writing skill. Therefore, I am concerned with approaches and methods which can help to enhance the learners’ writing proficiency as well as facilitate their learning English as a second language. As I observed, learners, especially students at high school, are often afraid of writing which, as claimed by them, makes them anxious and unconfident when dealing with. Moreover, the teaching and learning writing skill in many schools mostly involves the using of the textbooks, many of which have, so far, been opened to considerable debate. To make the matter worse, writing, which has been considered one of the most difficult skills among reading, speaking, listening and writing, is not paid sufficient attention as it deserves. The ideas of investigating deeply into the case intrigued me when I accidentally had a chance to attend a seminar on process approach at Dong Da high school, which was carried out to help teachers’ understanding of the process approach and suggest on how to apply it with the new textbook “English 10”. Although the process approach has had a widespread influence on the teaching of writing throughout the English speaking world, its beneficial impact on learners in Viet Nam context is still questionable. In other words, whether teachers and students in Viet Nam have any difficulties with the applicability of such an approach in teaching and learning writing? If so, what are the main constraints in applying the approach with the available new textbook “English 10”? The thought motivated me to conduct a study to gain better understanding of the main constraints, if there are any, in applying process approach in particular a context of Viet Nam. Objectives of the Study First, the research concentrates on investigating the current situation of teaching writing skill at Dong Da high school with grade 10, non-major students. Secondly, the thesis will make an attempt to find out the main constraints in applying process approach to the teaching and learning of writing skill in the given context. Finally, the study is aimed at suggesting some feasible solutions to help teachers and students at the school improve the quality of teaching and learning writing skill. .Research Questions and Research Methods In order to achieve the research objectives, the study was designed to find out the answers to the following questions: What are the teachers’ methods and strategies in teaching writing skill? What would be done to improve the teaching of writing skill? A combination of methods was chosen to achieve the research aim and objectives, including qualitative research and survey research. An extensive review of literature is made first to examine approaches in teaching writing skill, critically focusing on relevant literature on the process approach in teaching the writing skill. Besides, survey questionnaires were delivered to both the samples of teachers and students to obtain their teaching and learning methods and strategies of writing skill. Semi- structure interviews for both selected teachers and students in the samples are followed to clarify participants’ ideas. .Scope of the Study Because of the time constraint, the study was conducted on the teachers and students of grade 10 with the new textbook “English 10” at Dong Da high school only. Especially, the study deals with the current situations of English teaching at Dong Da high school, focusing on the teachers’ methods and strategies in teaching writing in order to find out the constraints remained in applying the process approach so that some feasible solutions would be drown. . Design of the Study The study is divided into 5 chapters: Chapter 1 presents an overview of the study including the rationale, the objectives, the scope, the research questions and research methods as well as the design of the whole study. Chapter 2 reviews the literature relevant to the study. Chapter 3 is a detailed description of current situation of teaching and learning writing skill of the grade 10 students with the textbook “English 10” at Dong Da School. In this chapter, the textbook “English 10” is introduced first, followed by the discussion of the teachers’ methods and strategies in teaching writing skill as well as students’ methods and strategies in learning the skill. Chapter 4, which is the most important part of the study, presents data collection methods and significant findings. It, then, draws out suggestions for feasible application of the process approach in teaching and learning writing skill in a given setting. Chapter 5, the last chapter of the thesis, includes a brief review of the study and some pedagogical implications. It also points out the limitations of the study. 1.6. Summary In this chapter, a brief overview of the study is presented. The next chapter will review the literature that is relevant to the study. Chapter 2: Literature Review This chapter gives an overview of relevant literature and researches that deal with approaches in teaching writing skill. Approaches in Teaching Writing Nowadays, the teaching of writing has long been a central element in all educational system and there are many, often conflicting, views of teaching writing. (Tribble, 1996:37). As trends in the teaching of writing have coincided with those of other skills, especially listening and speaking (Brown, 2000: 334), teachers who are willing to adopt new approaches as well as new methods on how to teach fluency not just accuracy. Additionally, authentic texts and context in the classroom are used creatively shifting the focus on the language itself to the focus on the purposes of linguistic communication. Up to dates, there are several ways to approach writing in the classroom. It should be said at the beginning that there is not necessarily any 'right' or 'best' way to teach writing skill. The best practice in any situation will depend on the type of student, the text type being studied, the school system and many other factors (Steele, 2007: 43). Different ways in approaching the tasks inform major movement in the teaching of writing (Raimes, 1983: 237-60). According to Raimes, there are 3 principal ways of approaching the task: focusing on form, focusing on the writer and focusing on the reader. The first perspective can be found in traditional, text-based approach. Teachers who adopt this approach often present authoritative text for students to imitate or adapt and they may see errors as something they have a professional obligation to correct and eliminate (Tribble, 1996: 37). The second approach which is called “process approach” emerges in part as a reaction against the tradition of form- focus. It particularly stresses on the writers as an independent producers of text. The third approach called “genre approach” is considered to be more socially oriented with the assumption that if the reader cannot recognize the purpose of a text, communication can not be successful. Product Approach For a long time, product approach has been claimed to dominate much of the teaching of English as second language in general and the teaching of writing in particular. According to Brown (1994: 320), this approach greatly focuses on the linguistic knowledge such as the appropriate use of vocabulary, syntax, and cohesive devices. In product approaches, there are 4 stages in teaching and learning writing: familiarization, controlled writing, guided writing, and free writing. Such an approach places the focus on how to enable students to produce similar texts. Robinson (1991, cited in Chinh, 2007:12) claims that the product approach to writing usually involves the presentation of a model text which is analyzed and the basis of a task that leads to the writing of an exactly similar text. And according to Robinson (1991), product approach can be summarized in the following figure: Model text comprehension/analysis/ manipulation NEW INPUT PARALLEL TEXT Figure 1: Model of Product Approach Although there have been some modern approaches in teaching writing, advantages of the product approach can not be denied since this approach stresses the need for learners to have linguistic knowledge about texts. In addition, it is a fact that imitation is one way of learning. The approach, therefore, has contributed considerably to the developments of learners’ linguistic knowledge and it is very useful in practical teaching. However, the traditional product approach is also claimed to be totally teacher-centered and product-focused. One of the most prominent weaknesses of the product approach is that the process skills of learners are given a relatively small role or even undervalued. Process Approach During the seventies of the 20th century, while the product approach received a lot of criticism, many teachers at the forefront of the development of the process approach have proposed methodologies emphasizing the creatively and unpredictability of writing (Tribble, 1996:37). In the process approach, the teaching of writing has begun to move away from a concentration on the written product to an emphasis on the process of writing. All writers make decisions on how to begin and how to organize the task. Therefore, they do not write on a given topic in a restricted time and hand in the composition for the teacher to correct. The role of teachers, therefore, is as education facilitators. As described in Zamel (1983: 147) and Raimes (1985: 231), in the process approach, the process of writing is seen as a recursive and complex process. In other words, although there are identifiable stages in the process of writing, writers can still revisit any of these stages many times before a text is completed. PREWRITING COMPOSING/ DRAFTING REVISING EDITING PUBLISHING Figure 2: Model of process approach. Since it lays the emphasis on the writers’ writing process, the process approach has been widely accepted. The focus on the writer inherent in the development of process approach has brought a range of benefits to teachers and students. (Tribble, 1996: 40). According to Graham Stanley (2007:16), although there are many ways of approaching process writing, it can be broken down into three stages: Pre-writing The teacher needs to be stimulate students' creativity, to get them thinking how to approach a writing topic. In this stage, the most important thing is the flow of ideas, and it is not always necessary that students actually produce much (if any) written work. If they do, then the teacher can contribute with advice on how to improve their initial ideas. Focusing ideas During this stage, students write without much attention to the accuracy of their work or the organization. The most important feature is meaning. Here, the teacher (or other students) should concentrate on the content of the writing. He or she can raise the questions “Is it coherent? Is there anything missing? Anything extra?” Evaluating, structuring and editing now the writing is adapted to a readership. Students should focus more on form and on producing a finished piece of work. The teacher can help with error correction and give organizational advice. Obviously, the process approach has made great improvement in practical teaching in comparison with the product approach. A teacher who adopts the approach will try to respect the learners’ cultural background and avoid the imposition of ideas or language behavior. The teaching and learning materials which make use of these approaches typically attempt to encourage creativity in very practical ways. However, writing is a complex process and can lead to learner frustration. As with speaking, it is necessary to provide a supportive environment for the students and be patient. This approach also states that more time be spent on writing in class, but not all classroom time is spent actually writing. Students may also react negatively to reworking the same material, but as long as the activities are varied and the objectives clear, then they will usually accept doing so. In the long term, teachers and students will start to recognize the value of a process writing approach as their written work improves (Stanley, 2007: 9). Genre Approach According to Lin (2002: 18), the teaching and learning around text genres has become increasingly influential in mainstream ELT in countries. However, their influence in EFL in East Asian countries still appears limited. A genre comprises a class of communicative events, the members of which share some set of communicative purposes. These purposes are recognizes by the experts members of the parent discourse community and there by constitute the rationales for the genre. (Swales, 1990: 58). Genre-based approaches begin with the whole text as the unit in focus rather than the sentence (Derewianka, 2003a: 120-22). In addition, genre-based approaches are concerned with the social macro-purposes of language, and not just the semantic micro-functions of individual words and sentences. The genres in focus are generally defined according to the broad social purposes of communication. Finally, the focus on whole texts implies recognition that there is a higher level of order and patterning in language than just the sentence - grammar. Genre-based approaches emphasize that this higher order must be attended to for effective language use: "all texts conform to certain conventions, and that if a student is to be successful in joining a particular English-language discourse community, the student will need to be able to produce texts which fulfill the expectations of its readers in regards to grammar, organization, and context" (Kim & Kim, 2005, citing Lin, 2002: 11). Genre-based teaching helps students participate effectively not only in the school curriculum but also in the broader community. This approach holds the view that learning language is a social activity and the process of learning language is a series of “scaffolded developmental steps” that address different aspects of language. Dudley- Evans (1997) identifies three stages in genre approach to writing. First of all, a model of a particular genre is introduced and analyzed, students then carry out exercises which manipulate relevant language forms and finally, students create texts. To write in a particular genre, students must be aware of the formal patterns that shape a text. Genre analysis, therefore, can provide the vocabulary and concepts to explicitly teach the text structures teachers would like their students to produce. The approach also offers students a relatively fixed discourse model that they can use for reference, thus students will gain confidence in producing texts that serve their intended purposes. According to Tribble (1996:60), it is necessary to extend the model of writing in process approach so as to show how contents, context, process and language knowledge interrelate with each other and can be realized in practical classroom procedures. Teacher research into genre Select genre for classroom study Collect corpus data Student research into genre PREWRITING writing REVISING EDITING PUBLISHING Figure 3: Model of genre approach However, the genre approach, as to negative side, is claimed to be prescriptive rather than descriptive, therefore, adopting such an approach will lead to the lack of creativity in the learners. In addition to this, students may feel this teaching approach is rather boring and their final products sometimes may be found stereotyped. Process Approach versus Other Approaches Process Approach versus Product Approach Up to dates, the conclusion can be made by Raimes (1983: 96) is that, in the process approach, students do not have to write on a given topic in a restricted time and hand in the composition for the teacher to correct. In other words, in the process approach the focus of teaching and learning is placed on the process of writing rather than the final product. In product approach, the process skills and the knowledge that students bring to the classroom are undervalued while in process approach, there is a great emphasis on activities such as collaborative group work and peer evaluation. As a result, product-based approaches see writing as mainly concerned with knowledge about the structure of language and writing development as mainly the result of the imitation of input in the form of texts provided by the teachers. By contrast, in process approach, students can explore a topic through writing, showing the teachers and each other drafts and using what they write to read over, think about and move them onto new ideas (Raimes, 1983:96). However, according to Brown (1994:337) the current emphasis on process writing must of course be seen in the perspective of a balance between process and product. Brown points out that after all, the final product is the ultimate goal and it is the reason that we go through the process of prewriting, drafting, revising and editing. In short, process is the means to the end not the end. Process Approach versus Genre Approach Despite the fact that the process approach has made a great improvement in practical teaching in comparison with the product approach, the process approach also came under attack from various genre theorists. One of its limitations claimed is that it does not address the needs of learners who have to write for readers unknown to them. Another limitation pointed out by Martin is that the approach doesn’t take into account the vast differences between speaking and writing (1985, cited in Anh, 2001). However, limitations of the genre approach are also recognized by many theorists. First of all, the genre approach may prove to be text- centered approach rather than a student – centered one (Chinh, 2007: 12). Another weakness of the approach arises from the fact that, in practical teaching, it is unable for teachers to teach all the genres to the students in the classroom. In spite of the tension between the two trends, many theorists (Bam forth 1993: 97; Candery 1997, cited in Tribble 1996: 61) claimed that there is a relation between them. It is possible to see the emergence of effective solution to teaching and learning problems which draw on the strengths of both process and genre approaches and they should not be seen as incompatible. Recent Researches on the Teaching and Learning of Writing Skill Hereafter are some cases concerning the teaching and learning of writing skill. These studies can be roughly divided into two groups. The first one will include the studies dealing with approaches in teaching writing skill. The later will cover some researches about aspects in teaching writing as a language skill. Studies concerning approaches in teaching writing The first research mentioned focuses on the teaching and learning correspondence writing at Hai Phong University by Chinh (2007). As stated in the research, the researcher tried to look into “some pending matters of theory and practice” with the hope to contribute to the improvement of ESP teaching- learning in general and business correspondence writing in particular (Chinh 2007:2). Although a combined product- process approach was suggested, no teaching application had been carried out in side the classroom to assess whe

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