Provide writing opportunities: Geography

lerarenredactie | bijgewerkt op 25 juni 2018

Writing is a process. In real life, we think, draft, compose, shape and rewrite; it helps if this process is reflected in the teaching of writing. CLIL subject teachers play an important role in encouraging their learners to produce different types of written output. Therefore it is essential that they demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the writing process. Learners need to be taught how to write an essay for history, a lab report for chemistry, an account of a field trip for geography or an analysis of an experiment for science. This is true for writing in the first language, but even more important in CLIL because of the added difficulty of writing in a second language. In most Dutch schools, the English (and Dutch) departments are solely responsible for writing instructions and implementation of the writing process. To stimulate learners to produce written output, it helps when CLIL subject and language teachers work closely together.

Another approach, the process approach, sees writing as a process and stresses the need to help learners understand the stages writers go through when they produce a text. These stages involve generating ideas (brainstorming), organising ideas (structuring), and linking ideas (linking sentences and paragraphs). Learners may experience difficulty at any of these stages. For example, they may lack ideas, may be unable to organise what they want to write about, or may not be able to link the ideas coherently. If learners are given support at each stage of the writing process, they will be able to write more fluently and creatively.

It is useful to develop learners’ writing skills by starting with short writing assignments before moving on to longer, more formal texts; in other words, moving from BICS to CALP. When teachers give feedback on short writing assignments, a comment or two indicating whether or not the learner is on the right track will hopefully encourage more creative writing and give the learner more confidence.

In CLIL, production scaffolds can be used to support writing. Providing learners with writing scaffolds or writing frames creates a bridge between the joint construction stage and independent writing. Good CLIL writing scaffolds provide both content and language support.

In this clip, the teacher sets up a writing task to encourage learners to produce more written output. It was filmed at the Rijnlands Lyceum in Oegstgeest. The learners are first year pupils (average age 11-12) and the teacher is Margot Porton.

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