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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Peter Lucantoni Academic Writing – the challenges and solutions October 2019

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denta Peter Logan Tony has been teaching

English training teachers and writing

teaching and learning materials for

nearly 40 years

and has an MA TESOL from the University

of Edinburgh he has lived and worked

outside the UK since 1986 in Europe in

the Middle East and he's now based in

Cyprus Peter is senior teacher training

consultant for Cambridge University

Press

and is the author and co-author of

several popular course books for

students including Cambridge IGCSE

English as a second language and

introduction to English as a second

language both published by Cambridge

University Press

Peter regularly presents at conferences

and trains teachers internationally in

both the public and private sectors a

primary secondary and tertiary levels so

over to you Peter

thanks very much Simon and hello to

everybody I had a quick look through

some of your questions that you were

sending in in your introductions and

we've got people here from Egypt Russia

Oman Ukraine India Mexico Peru Italy

Romania the UK Iran Saudi Arabia and at

that point I stopped I stopped looking

so welcome to everybody whatever the

time of day is and I hope it's going to

be a useful online workshop that we're

doing this evening okay so we're going

to talk about academic writing and we're

going to have a look at what the

challenges and the solutions are not

just of course for students but let's

not forget the poor old teachers as well

who have to help the students with with

those particular challenges so what

we're going to do in the next few

minutes if I can get the slides to come

up

you

scuse me click anywhere else lad

and then advance it that way I think you

should work yeah here we go like this ok

sorry about that so four four things

four questions that we're going to

address in this presentation first of

all how does academic writing actually

differ from non academic writing

obviously there are differences

otherwise we wouldn't be having this

talk and it's those differences which do

make it challenging we're going to have

a look at what it is that makes academic

writing so hard and then have a look at

some of the common approaches in

teaching writing which you may or may

not be familiar with and then towards

the end see if we can make some

conclusions about how we can actually

help students to become better and more

competent writers so as this is a

presentation about writing I thought the

best way to start would be to ask you to

do some writing now this is a bit

strange because you can't see me and I

can't see you and we can't talk to each

other but I'd like you to do a little

piece of writing so could you I'll give

you 10 15 seconds just make sure you

have something to write with a pen or a

pencil and something to write on a piece

of paper scrap paper doesn't need to be

clean or large but just have something

to write with or something to write on I

just give you 10 15 seconds to get

yourselves ready

and the writing that you're going to be

doing is free writing free writing so

just ask your sirs first of all what is

free writing what what do you think free

writing might actually be the the clue

is obviously in the in the in the name

free writing and free writing basically

is a is a writing approach which takes

away the fear that a students often have

with writing so I'm going to ask you to

free write about a topic and there are

going to be no rules about the writing

you can basically do whatever you want

I'm not going to restrict you in any way

in in in in how you write the only thing

I am going to restrict is the topic and

I'll tell you about the topic in a

minute so you go into free write about a

topic and I'm going to tell you when to

start and I'm going to tell you when to

stop writing I'm not at this stage gonna

tell you how long you're going to have

to do the writing

that's quite flexible but of course in

this context that we're using this

evening we don't want a length of time

where you're writing and I'm not doing

anything so it will be quite short I

want you to write everything that you

can think of about the topic and this is

the difficult bit don't worry about

grammar and spelling now obviously as

teachers you're experienced teachers

you're expert users of English and you

you won't be worrying about grammar and

spelling but remember this is an

activity really for students and of

course students do worry about grammar

and spelling they spend too much time

worrying about grammar and spelling and

not enough time worrying about the

content of what they're actually writing

couple more things to point out you can

write individual words if you want you

can just write a shopping list of

vocabulary related to the topic you can

write phrases you can write sentences or

you can write a combination of those

three things words phrases and sentences

now again in a classroom situation

particularly with lower levels you may

find students are just writing

individual words maybe some of them are

writing phrases

maybe with stronger students higher

levels you'll find them writing longer

phrases and sentences but it really

doesn't matter again as teachers you'll

probably feel comfortable writing

sentences but one of the instructions is

that you can write words phrases or

sentences or a combination couple more

things don't stop as soon as I give you

the ghost signal just right

keep writing don't stop don't erase

anything don't change anything just get

those ideas down on paper and the last

instruction is not really for you this

evening unless you're teaming up with

somebody for the webinar but it's an

instruction you would give in the

classroom don't talk to anyone just keep

on writing now normally at this stage I

would I would ask if there are any

questions about the instructions but we

don't have that luxury in this

particular format so on the next slide

I'm going to give you the topic but I

want you to write about and as soon as

you see the slide as soon as you see

this topic just start writing and I'll

leave you to write for a very short

amount of time and then I'll tell you to

stop okay so here we go here's your

topic how does academic writing differ

from non academic writing start writing

you

and stop writing even if you're in the

middle of a word middle of a sentence

stop writing put your pen down sit back

relax and hopefully there was some

enjoyment in the activity so let's

reflect on it just remember that if you

did this in the classroom you would

probably give your students a little bit

more time and I would also encourage the

students to look at each other's writing

to get ideas from each other

before we did any sort of reflection on

the activity itself so that's what we're

going to do now I want you to think

whether or not you enjoyed the activity

and and what your reasons were for it

now obviously I can't get your responses

to this but generally when I do this

live with it with a group of teachers

the vast majority of teachers say that

they did enjoy the activity and the main

reason for enjoying the activity is the

freedom that's an integral part of this

particular activity remember that there

are no rules students can write whatever

they want in whatever way they want and

it's removing the regulations if you

like that often go behind writing that

creates the enjoyment in the actual

activity itself so thinking about your

students now hopefully you would agree

that they would enjoy the activity as

well for the same reasons that you

yourselves enjoyed it that the barriers

were actually removed and and you were

able to write whatever you wanted in

however you wanted to do it remember

that this piece of writing is is not

going to be seen by the teacher it's not

something that the teacher will take

from the students and and assess it in

any sort of way

this activity is used as an initial

brainstorming activity it's a way of

getting students to get their ideas down

on paper without fear of any sort of

assessment or being corrected for any

errors that they might may

and of course leading on from there

students could then do some group

writing they could share their ideas put

their ideas together and do joint

writing so getting support from each

other

in in order to complete a piece of

writing once the students begin that

stage then that the teacher would

probably get more involved and actually

start looking up what students have

written so the learning outcomes for

that particular free writing activity

the learning outcome is is is is not

writing itself the main learning outcome

is really about the brainstorming and

the content and ideas now you probably

know from your own experiences of

writing that when you writes it's often

difficult to start writing we know that

students have the same problems so

there's this type of activity can help

to initiate that the whole of the

writing process ok so two questions that

come out of this first of all this is

the one I asked you to write about how

does academic writing differ from non

academic writing and I genuinely wish

that I could see what you've written but

obviously I can't but I'm sure you've

got some great ideas as an extension of

that we've probably going to be able to

think about the characteristics of

academic writing so if we're alive I

would be asking you in groups to to talk

to each other but for the purposes of

this evenings presentation let's let's

have a think about what the differences

are I think there are four main areas

that we need to consider when we are

thinking about the differences between

academic writing and non academic

writing and the first of these is is is

the purpose of the writing very often

with non academic writing the purposes

is very personal it's very often

descriptions about people we've we've

met places we've been books we've read

films we've seen it

cetera et cetera but in an academic

context the purposes is much more

structured and it's going to be much

more formal as well so just as an

example writing has a purpose it could

be describing a process and that could

be a mechanical process descriptions not

you know describe your favorite holiday

location but describe what goes on in

this particular machine and extended

essays so we we can see that the purpose

of a knack of a piece of academic

writing is very different from academic

writing a second area that we need to

consider and I just mentioned it briefly

just now but also the style obviously

academic writing the style is going to

be much more formal than we would find

in a piece of non academic writing and

now that we've established that the

stunt the style is going to be more

formal this obviously has an impact on

the type of language which needs to be

used within the piece of writing so my

third difference then is the the the

linguistic features that a piece of

writing would have so we have as we've

said the formality level but more

specifically things like the passive

voice the passive voice is used far more

in academic writing than we would see it

in non academic writing we need to avoid

the first person in academic writing

it's not about me and us it's about a

third person it's very impersonal and I

think when we look at those linguistic

features and then obviously these are

just a couple of examples but when we

know what the style is what the

formality structure that tells us the

linguistic features and then as teachers

we know that those are areas that we

need to consider in a classroom where

we're teaching academic writing and a

fourth area which I'm going to call

skills there may be skills required in

academic writing which are not so

relevant or even prevalent in

academic writing for example developing

an argument writing topic sentences

within paragraphs and proofreading once

a piece of writing is finished now some

of these things may of course be

relevant to a certain extent within non

academic writing but generally speaking

they don't exist in non academic writing

so I think if we need to consider these

these four main areas the purpose the

style the linguistic features and the

skills and of course once we know what

the differences are we can then move on

to my second question which was thinking

about the specific characteristics of

academic writing so let's consider

things outside the actual writing

process itself things like having to

incorporate research findings now this

may not happen or be necessary in in all

academic writing but certainly if we're

looking at students writing research

papers and reports then obviously being

able to incorporate their research is

incredibly important and linked in with

that is the next characteristic which is

about using and citing sources in other

words finding something which is

relevant to the writing that you're

doing and not just plagiarizing it not

just copy pasting it but actually saying

where you've taken it from and and

obviously in your your main argument

saying why why you've used it to more

characteristics might be writing

descriptions and as I say this is not

writing a description of you you know

your favorite meal or your your latest

holiday but descriptions of something

formal like a description of a magazine

or or a place writing instructions might

be another characteristic of academic

writing describing

and developments and of course the these

characteristics require very very

specific areas of language which may not

be so so common within non academic

writing developing an argument and

remember arguments need both sides and

we need supporting evidence you know

these are high level skills that

students need and of course on top of

everything let's not forget that

students still needs to proofread what

they've written and and check it for

accuracy but also checking the content

and making sure that it's relevant so I

think looking at all of all of these the

differences but also the characteristics

if we put all of that together I think

we have the answer to - to my next

question from the from the overview why

is it that academic writing can be so

hard well it's all of those things that

we've we've just been talking about

these are the things that make academic

writing difficult for students students

often come from a context within which

they're learning general English and

then suddenly they're dropped into a

context where they have to write in a

different way and they haven't been

prepared I think on top of

it's not just the rules of the game are

slightly different with academic writing

I think we've also got to remember that

what we ask students to write about in

an academic context can be quite

challenging for students and very

different from what they've been used to

in a general English context so I'm

gonna give you an example now of a

writing task just to put yourself in

your in your students shoes this is this

is quite a high level writing task but

it's quite typical of the of the type of

writing tasks that students may be asked

to to deal with so obviously I'm not

going to ask you to write it I wouldn't

be that cruel but just just have a look

at this and then have a think about how

you feel when you see this particular

question here we go

I think we'd all agree that that is

quite a challenging writing task that

would be at approximately c1 levels so

definitely a high intermediate level but

and there are many parts of that writing

task which which obviously creates

challenges for students and that's

obviously before they even begin to

start writing and I think you know you

think about how you feel but also think

about how your students might feel when

they're faced with such a question and I

think you know that the man at the

bottom of the mountain looking up to the

top of the mountain how on earth can I

get there you know maybe we feel a bit

like that at the moment when when faced

with such a question so imagine how your

students are feeling when they're

confronted with that a question that we

asked them to answer it it's not just

about the differences in the

characteristics which we were talking

about just now but it's also being faced

with such a question and dissecting that

question making sure that they fully

understand it so just have a thing for a

minute what would be the specific

challenges that students might face with

such a question I'll put the question up

again in just a second but I want you to

think what is it about the question

that's gonna cause those challenges for

students so here's the question again

I'll just give you 15 seconds or so to

have another look and think about the

specific challenges that students might

face

I think depending on where you are in

the world's depending on what your

students first language is depending on

whether or not your students first

language shares same or pretty similar

alphabet with the the one we use in

English the Roman alphabet or if they

use a completely different alphabet I

think you'll probably be coming up with

with slightly different challenges but I

think whatever you're thinking about we

can probably categorize the challenges

into into three main areas and the first

of those we'll call knowledge motivation

and the reason I've put a K at the end

is because in a minute we're going to

have a look at some specific challenges

and we'll categorize them into into the

three main categories so one very

important areas of knowledge and the

motivation and I think we would all

agree that if you don't have knowledge

then you're probably not going to be

motivated to write anything and you've

probably heard of writer's block that's

not necessarily about not having

knowledge but it's not being able to get

the knowledge from your brain down down

onto the paper but very often students

in an academic context they suffer from

from lack of knowledge not having the

idea is not not knowing where to start

and that has a very negative impact on

on how they feel and whether or not

they're motivated to actually do the

writing so that that's our first

category as I'm talking about these you

can maybe think to yourselves what the

other two categories might might be but

the second one is language and of course

this covers a very wide area it's not

just about grammar but it's also covers

of vocabulary and those linguistic

features that we were talking about

earlier and the third one again have a

quick think can you think what the third

one might be

the third one is study and

organizational skills so here we have

our three main categories that writing

challenges knowledge - motivation

language and studying organizational

skills so let's have a look at some

specific examples now I'm going to put

some challenges on me on the screen for

you and when you see them just just ask

yourself is it a KA challenge is it an

El challenge or is it an ode challenge

or indeed could it be a combination of

those because I think some of the

challenge is don't necessarily just fit

in into one category area so here's my

first one this is about generating ideas

thinking of ideas coming up with ideas

and hopefully you're realizing that that

is Venus frozen again sorry guys that

could be a knowledge issue or it could

also be organizing things so you may be

able to come up with the ideas but

actually organizing them and starting to

put them down on paper second possible

challenge translating ideas from the

first language whatever that might be I

think we would call that a language

problem an easy one coming up organizing

ideas that's obviously an organizational

problem next one understanding what the

teacher wants or what the book wants

understanding what the purpose of the

writing is so that complex writing to us

which I showed you just now I said that

you know students may have problems

actually dissecting the question I think

and this is

maybe just maybe both a knowledge and an

organizational problem

another specific challenge lack of vocab

lack of grammar so that a student can

add an adequately express their ideas

and their opinions relating to the topic

and is a language I've got three or four

more just to show you as examples of the

challenges in experience as a reader now

we know that the the best way to get

knowledge this is is through reading so

this can be an enormous challenge for

students when they're placed into an

academic writing context part of that

challenge it's not just I'm

inexperienced as a reader but it may

also be I'm inexperienced

in reading and understanding texts which

is similar to the one that you've just

asked me to write about and of course

this is a key argument for why we should

always try to provide learners with

models so that's

a language problem and and possibly an

organizational problem as well lack of

motivation lack of interest that would

place under the knowledge category maybe

not having anything to actually say

about the topic you know despite our

best intentions as teachers you know we

try to provide students with interesting

and engaging topics but you know you

can't please everybody all of the time

and there may genuinely be students who

just don't feel they want to write about

something they're not interested in it

they don't have very much to say with

whatever is that we want them to write

about and I think we can put that in

there in the knowledge category as well

and then finally and of course this is

not an exhaustive list there are there

are plenty of other challenges that we

can what once a student has dissected

the question and has understood the

question they then have to come up with

relevant topics to write about in order

to address organizational challenge for

our students so I've given you a tour

nine specific challenges covering all

three categories the knowledge

motivation the language and the study

and organizational skills and of course

there are many more specific challenges

witch hunt which I'm sure you're coming

up with so let's have a look at another

academic writing question I want you to

think again about the challenges that

students may have but let's move away

from just thinking about the challenges

and think more about solutions you know

how would you prepare your students to

overcome the challenges I teach ask so

the Tusk is coming up now

so could be just a little bit of time to

have a think about that how would you

prepare your students to overcome any

challenges in this particular writing

and as you're thinking of the the

challenges think about whether or not

the challenges are knowledge challenge a

kay challenge a language challenge ell

or an organizational challenge the O

because once you've identified what the

challenge type is then that helps you to

know what you should be doing in order

to overcome those particular challenges

so let me show you a student response to

this particular question and when you

see the student response possibly some

of the challenges that you've just been

thinking of you'll actually notice in

this particular piece of writing now

obviously we're not going to we're not

going to mark the piece of writing we're

not going to give it a grade but it is a

real piece of student writing obviously

it's anonymous but I didn't make it up

it was something that a student actually

created and I think it gives us a very

good idea of or at least it brings

together I think many of the challenges

that we've just been talking about so

here it is again I'll go silent for

10-15 seconds just to leave you to read

it

so obviously this student has made a

very good attempt at answering the

question obviously this is only a very

small part of the response but just just

a point for us teachers I think I think

when we see something like this where

there are quite a few vocabulary

spelling problems although they don't

really impact but our comprehension but

I think when when we see so many errors

such as the ones in this it it can

prevent us from actually looking at the

the content itself but I think this

student has made a good attempt at

answering that particular question even

though this is just a small error so

hopefully in that particular answer you

can see examples of language problems

language challenges maybe you think that

there are some knowledge problems and

possibly we can also see some

organizational problems as well so we've

categorized the challenges into three

areas but I think you know let's take it

to the next step now and I think we can

categorize challenges into the two the

Macra and the discourse size or micro

down to a word and and you know looking

at traditional approaches I'm sure

you've all heard of and are familiar

with that the the process approach and

the participants and helps us teachers

with study skills and and organizational

skills so this is our our Oh from the

three main challenge areas so that the

the the process approach if you like is

a sort of stop start stop start approach

to writing where we're we're able to

guide students in their writing before

they get to the final part of it

the other one which often goes with the

process approach is is the product

approach and the main focus with the

product approach is really looking at

language at more of a micro level and

this is where we take writing from

students it give them feedback and they

they have another attempt or they don't

just look up the final product and look

great because so the process approach

though the the macro approach is is our

o helps us with our study and

organizational skills the product

approaches our L which helps us with

language but of course the thing that's

missing is the K how do we help students

with knowledge and motivation

it doesn't appear in in either of the

process or the product approaches in

either of these macro or micro challenge

areas if you like so knowledge and

motivation is about trying to find out

what engages the students so knowing

your students knowing what interests

them knowing what motivates them and

through doing that if we give them the

content then hopefully that will give

them the knowledge that they actually

need so the last part of this talk is

about my final question which was this

help students to be competent writers

well how can we get the poor guy at the

bottom of the mountain up to the top and

just to recap what we've said we need to

give the students knowledge and

motivation it doesn't matter how good

their language is it doesn't matter how

good their organizational skills I if

they haven't got the knowledge then

they're not going to be able to give a

cop answer to a question and I think you

know with academic writing we often

forget the K

and we just focus on the on the language

and the study in Norway and the

organizational skills the the let's give

them the knowledge that they need let's

give them the time to understand the

content and to form their opinions about

it to apply some critical thinking to

the knowledge that we're giving them

because by doing that we will increase

their motivation and then we can worry

about the language and the study in the

organizational skills but there's no

there's no point in worrying about those

particular areas if the students haven't

got the knowledge to begin with and I

just want to show you an example from

from a course book which uses a lot of

video content to provide students with

knowledge and motivation an example here

of the type of questions which the

students could be asked to do I was very

much hoping to be able to show you a

video this evening but I know that in

some of the countries you're in probably

the internet wouldn't handle the

streaming of the video so we decided not

to risk it but the the video I wanted to

show you was very much a documentary

type of video and of course

documentaries are full of content

they're full of information they're full

of data and this is where we provide our

students with the knowledge which we

want because as we've said once they've

got the knowledge then they're going to

be motivated they're going to be engaged

and that will help them with the with

the rest of the academic writing process

of course what students get the

knowledge they're then got to be able to

organize all of that knowledge and one

of the techniques that we can use on I'm

sure you're very familiar with with

things like this with organizers and as

you can see in this particular one we

have a graphic organizer which looks at

the causes and effects of deforestation

students can complete this graphical

Aiza once they've seen the video and

once they've seen

inputs using and just another except

Marple now of a graphic organizer this

one is a slightly different approach

this is a cyclic or graphic organizer so

looking at the process how things

actually how things actually happen and

and one of the things we mentioned

earlier when we talked about the

characteristics of academic writing is

that students are challenged described

processes and a good strategy for

students is to create graphic organizers

like like the one you can see on the

screen now and and this graphic

organizer becomes the foundation the

catalyst if you like for the actual

process description itself okay so we're

just about out of time

[Music]

in conclusion we know that academic

writing can be hard because it's

requiring students to have and to be and

to employ certain things all they need

to have knowledge about a topic no

knowledge then they're not going to be

able to do the writing so it's

absolutely essential that we provide

support they have the knowledge they

need to be proficient and confident

about using academic language just

having the language they learned at the

language school you know two afternoons

a week it's not enough we looked earlier

in the in the talk about characteristics

and the differences between academic

writing and non academic writing and

we've seen that academic writing has

very specific linguistic features that

students need to be aware of we've also

seen that academic writing uses and

cites sources we've seen that the style

is formal we've seen that there are

specific skills we've seen that the the

purpose of academic writing is different

so all of that has a massive impact on

the type of language that students need

to use the third thing we've established

is that students need very specific

study and organizational skills and the

organizational side of it comes with

using things like the graphic organizers

which we've just been looking at

remember the graphic organizer is a way

of bringing all of your ideas together

before you actually get so

part of this then is we need to know

that traditional approaches not

providing support knowledge and the

motivation gap this is this is the key

area for this is the key challenge for

us as educators it's not the teaching of

the language it's not the teaching of

the organizational skills it's it's

providing students with with the

knowledge which will fill that gap

exists and yes let's not forget the

traditional approaches the bottom-up

language support is is very very

relevant process writing is incredibly

important but we mustn't forget that we

need to address the knowledge and the

motivation and as I said that's what

needs to come first let's give them the

knowledge which will create the

motivation and then we can worry more

about the language support that the

students need so thank you so much for

attending this morning this afternoon

this evening wherever you are in the

world I hope it's been interesting and

useful and I think Simon's going to jump

in now with with some questions great

thank you for that thanks a lot yeah a

number of points already come in number

of people saying thank you I'll just

address a quick point obviously lots of

people saying similar things where do

you get the certificate and can you see

this again yes you'll be sent an email

in a few days time with both of those

things a link to watch this again and a

link to the certificate of attendance

which you need to fill your own name in

on but there'll be instructions okay

let's start off with a couple of

questions you can keep the questions

coming in if you want to write anything

first one here how can academic

vocabulary lists and academic

expressions help students with their

essays should this be taught in class

they I hope they're vocal in lists or

should we leave it to students to do it

themselves yeah I think it's a very good

question many course books have

vocabulary lists I think so long as the

vocabulary list is focusing on vocab

from the content of the unit and it's

not just arbitrary words in a list then

I think

there are different ways that you can

get students to use those particular

vocabulary items the thing is if there

are too many words in the vocabulary

list then it can be a bit overwhelming

but I've seen teachers tell students or

give the students an instruction I need

you to use five words from the

vocabulary list in your answer and I

think that's a way of integrating the

language I think the Cadbury list can be

used just as a reference point for

students I don't think it's a good idea

to to pre teach vocabulary lists that

that's not necessary because the the

vocabulary list or the the glossary of

words should focus on the words from the

unit anyway which will be pre taught in

the listening role or the reading so I

would see it more as a reference point

and possibly as I said a way of

encouraging the students by saying use

five or six or eight or whatever number

of words from the list I hope that

answers the question

sure and sort of linked with us

producing and where do we find

vocabulary for academic writing you're

obviously referring to a course book

there but any other general places where

you could yeah well Cambridge University

Press has its academic word corpus which

is a new one but there are there are

various corpora available online I think

avril Cox head who did a talk or is

doing a talk in this conference created

the academic word list so they are

available on online or as I say

Cambridge has its own academic word list

now as well yeah she was what she was

the first speaker actually to tour right

and it's I was just looking for the

reference there the academic word list

Cox head mm yes oh yeah that's it

so another question is how can I

encourage my students to plan before

they start writing well I think you know

the examples I showed you graphic

organizers are a great way of clouding I

think when we think of plans we possibly

thinking in the wrong way I think

graphic organizers are a great way of

getting students to plan what you want

them to write in my I mean I don't teach

very much anymore but when I did I was a

great fan of giving students handouts

with with nothing written on them but

with lots of empty boxes and in my

experience students don't like empty

boxes and they like filling them in so

if you like a template for a plan

introduction main part conclusion and

arguments for arguments against you know

I think I think with writing in general

we tend we tend to tell students to

write and forget that we still need to

scaffold and support them and I think by

giving writing templates is a very good

way to help them with their planning

another question where did you get the

list of challenges from at the beginning

you know all the challenges that you

listed is there is a reference for that

was this a list that you'd come up with

yourself I think that they're taken from

teachers you know when we were putting

this presentation together there it's

feedback we've had from from teachers as

I said it's not exhaustive there are

probably hundreds more examples but you

know in from what I've heard in feedback

from teachers these are the very very

common challenges that students face ok

another good question here my students

are not able to separate informal from

formal language how can I teach them how

can I help them to do this

separating formal from informal III you

know one of the other things I mentioned

earlier was about giving students models

of what we want them to actually create

and I think that's the best way of

highlighting differences I mean why not

think about things like spot the

difference I mean you're probably

familiar with having two pictures which

looks similar but actually they're their

difference and students have to spot the

differences you know you could do the

same with with pieces of writing maybe

an informal letter and a formal letter

and getting students to

identify and highlight what the

differences are between the two not not

just in terms of you know dear sir and

dear Mum but even in phrases and

structures that are used you know and

you could guide them and scaffold this

by saying you know find three examples

of this and find three examples of that

are they in the formal letter or are

they in the informal letter you know so

you know I I think as I said just now I

don't think we give you enough actual

support we are students to do things but

we're not really

scaffolding enough so I think asking

asking students questions specific

questions about different pieces of

writing might help them to understand

the differences between formal and

informal I guess sorry to go on a bit

with this one but I think one of the

problems here is the students nowadays

because of the media you know they're

exposed to a lot of informal and

colloquial language far more than

they're exposed to to academic language

and and that that may be one of the

reasons why they that they find is such

a challenge but but I think you know

back into the classroom give them

examples of both and get them to

highlight particular features as a way

of helping now somebody's asked about

the scaffolding what the scaffolding

mean in connection with I could have

been writing scaffolding just just means

you know helping students supporting

students you know our job is to teach

them not to test them testing is a very

small part of what we should be doing so

in terms of scaffolding academic writing

you know the examples I've been given

introduced them to graphic organizers if

they're not familiar with them help them

with with planning templates get them to

understand the difference between formal

and informal language I think the more

of this scaffolding and support that we

can do than the better writers they're

actually going to become in the end okay

so final question that we just got time

for one more you're talking about

showing them examples of things but few

people have written where can we find

good examples of text types like you

know the reports the essays the letters

yeah yeah well I

I think you know that your first place

that you need to look as your coursebook

see what see what the course book offers

and then I think if that's not giving

you what you need then you need to go

online the problem with going online of

course is that you just get overwhelmed

with with examples of of different types

of writing the other thing of course you

can do if you're working with other

teachers is share ideas between teachers

get examples from other teachers but you

know I don't want to start naming course

books but I think that's your first port

of call is to have a look at you know

the resources that are actually out

there and available and there's plenty

of stuff available online I'm sure it's

that ok I think that is all we have time

for we'll we'll get a give Peter a break

now thanks a lot

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The Description of Peter Lucantoni Academic Writing – the challenges and solutions October 2019