Research Paper: ESL Writing Teaching Writing Skills to English

Pages: 20 (5435 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Teaching  ·  Buy This Paper

ESL Writing

Teaching Writing Skills to English as a Second Language

English as a second language (ESL) is a necessary subject in the United States because it is difficult for people entering the United States to succeed unless they have a basic understanding for the primary language. Therefore, ESL is taught in adult classes, certain businesses will help employees learn English, and elementary and high schools also teach a more in-depth version of the course. It is hoped that when a student leaves high school they will be proficient in the language, as are all of the native speakers, so that they can compete in the job market.

However, certain issues exist that can make it difficult to teach the language to people who have other traditions prior to trying to learn English. Most people who enter the United States and seek instruction in the language are either Hispanic or Asian. Spanish is structured differently than English (since one is a romantic language and the other Germanic) and Asian languages are tonal which is foreign to the English language. Therefore, English is already difficult being that it is a new system. Also, English has many rules that apply sometimes but not others. Learning the complexities of the language can take many years. However, those who learn English as a second language may never perfect their usage of English but they can become very proficient.

Another challenge that ESL teachers have is how can they structure their classrooms and there teaching style to best represent the language. Many different theories exist regarding the proper way to introduce a non-native speaking group to the English language, and some are better, and have more successes, than others. This essay is an attempt to look at some of the methods that have been tried and sift through them. Since extensive research has been conducted regarding teaching ESL, different studies will be analyzed with the goal of determining what has been more successful, and what facets of certain teaching methods can be mimicked by other ESL teachers. The examination begins with a brief synopsis of each of ten articles, followed by a comparison of the different methods, and concludes with a critique of the different methods regarding inconsistencies and a mention of areas for further study.

Article Synopsis

This section will detail what dimension of teaching ESL to high school students the particular article dealt with. Most of the articles selected for this research talk specifically about a technique that can be used to teach ESL. However, a couple of the articles discuss the experiences of teachers that have to teach ESL students outside of a formal English setting.

Article 1. Hammond.

This first article is a general statement about how ESL learners are taught. The author says "My concern in this paper is with implications of quality teaching initiatives for students for whom English is a second or subsequent language (henceforth ESL students)" (Hammond). The author makes this general statement because there have been so many different initiatives that have been tried and found only moderately successful. Since she is an ESL teacher by profession and not a professional researcher, she wants to understand best how to impact her students, which is the primary goal of this paper also. Hammond goes on to say that "In particular, my concern is with middle year 'second phase' ESL students who are beyond the initial stages of learning English, and, in Australian schools, are located within mainstream classes." She acknowledges that many of the students that she is teaching are Asian (whereas ESL students in the United States will typically be of Hispanic parentage), but she also quotes research which shows that the type of student is less important than the method of teaching.

The study was qualitative in nature and it was completed in two separate stages (Hammond). The first stage "investigated teachers' responses and experiences in working with quality teaching frameworks in schools with high proportions of ESL students" (Hammond). Researchers conducted interviews with the different ESL teachers who agreed to be interviewed for the study to make this determination. The next stage "consisted of a series of action research projects that built on outcomes from Stage 1, and were designed to implement programs with ESL students that were characterised by both high challenge and high support" (Hammond). With this method the instructors were given new tools to assist them in the classroom. The tools that they were given were specifically designed to help with the problems that the specific teacher had mentioned.

The research found that "What emerges from questionnaire responses, and what is supported in follow up case studies, is an overall positive picture of the impact of the quality teaching initiatives in both primary and secondary schools" (Hammond). The initiatives that they implemented for the different teachers (ones that would enhance the intellectual functioning of the students through rigorous coursework) included: "deep knowledge, deep understanding, knowledge as problematic, higher-order thinking, metalanguage, and substantive conversation" (Hammond). The success of these methods for teaching ESL students was not lost on the teachers who were targeted ofr the study. The "Teachers reported the impact as considerable, and they also reported its impact in encouraging them to talk about, and reflect on, their own teaching against specific criteria" (Hammond).

Article 2. Strever & Newman.

The research in this article was aimed at teaching both better reading comprehension and better writing. Thus engaged, the thought was that the students would better be able to learn spoken ESL also. As the article puts it "In recent years, dialogue journals have become a fixture in many English as a Second Language writing courses. Along with promoting written fluency, dialogue journals integrate reading and writing in the context of social interaction" (Strever & Newman). The journals have been accompanied in this new research by using available online technology (such as email) to allow the students to work in consort with a partner who is on the same level as they are in English proficiency. The teachers also asked that the "students not only send journal entries to an "E-partner," they must also make meaning by summarizing their E-partners' journal entries. The summary is sent to both E-partner and instructor" (Strever & Newman). The core of this research, by two ESL teachers who are relating their experiences, is to assist the students with increased reading and writing proficiency by giving them a safe medium. The researchers found that although the students began by just recounting events of their days, they eventually started to engage in longer, more complex conversations involving their "personal histories and dreams" (Strever & Newman). It was at this juncture that many of the students began showing an exponential growth in their independent abilities to use the English language outside the spoken form.

The researchers found that "Writing journal entries to E-mail partners seemed to be an exciting event for our students. We noticed right away that most students wanted an E-partner and became concerned if their E-partners did not respond or send an entry to them" (Strever & Newman). The engagement of the students was the important issue. The teachers were looking for ways to make the written word come alive for the students. They realized that these students sometimes had a greater overall proficiency than most people who grow up speaking English because they learned ESL structurally, however, they found it difficult to make themselves understood in their written assignments. "When an E-partner was paired with someone compatible in skills, the students challenged each other by sending longer and more sophisticated messages."

This also led to a change in behavior that was a greater outcome than the researchers could have hoped for. They wrote that "In addition, as the semester progressed, less skilled students began to try to correct their journal entries before they sent them; having a peer as an audience encouraged them to spend more time than usual in writing" (Strever & Newman). This meant that the students were not only learning to construct proper written English, but that they desired it to be more correct when interacting with a peer, than when they just sent it to a teacher. Peer pressure from a positive perspective.

Article 3. Kruger.

In this research article the author had very specific goals for the research to be conducted. They were: "to increase the overall reading proficiency of the ESL students; to improve the study skills of these students; to further their cultural integration into local society; and, to improve their general level of functioning in all academic subjects" (Kruger). This seems to be an ambitious set of goals which would incorporate most of the items that the previous researchers were trying to do. To accomplish this the researchers used both intensive and extensive reading plans for different levels of students to see what the effect would be. An intensive program entails choosing material selections of not more than 500 words, so that they can be completed within… [END OF PREVIEW]

Teaching ESL the Cultural Shortcomings in Traditionalist Research Paper


ESL Curriculums Essay


Teacher's Roles in Teaching English to High School Students in Relation to Language Proficiency Research Proposal


ESL Program Evaluation Research Proposal


Teaching Techniques to Motivate Students Literature Review Chapter


View 202 other related papers  >>

Cite This Research Paper:

APA Format

ESL Writing Teaching Writing Skills to English.  (2011, March 19).  Retrieved October 16, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/esl-writing-teaching-skills/6280

MLA Format

"ESL Writing Teaching Writing Skills to English."  19 March 2011.  Web.  16 October 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/esl-writing-teaching-skills/6280>.

Chicago Format

"ESL Writing Teaching Writing Skills to English."  Essaytown.com.  March 19, 2011.  Accessed October 16, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/esl-writing-teaching-skills/6280.