Two ways to encourage students to write
* The writing half hour
Once a week, introduce a writing half hour when students are not allowed to talk and can communicate only in writing. You can follow these steps.
Step 1: Bring in lots of scrap paper and distribute it to your students. Make sure that every student has several bits of paper.
Step 2: Tell the students that for the next 30 minutes they are not allowed to talk but can only write.
Step 3: Answer any questions that students may have and then begin the half hour.
Step 4: Carry round paper yourself and write notes and questions to your students.
Step 5: In later weeks you can give students tasks to perform during the half hour. For example, ask some students to find out if girls in the class enjoy grammar more than boys. Ask other students to find out what people worry about most in terms of their future.
Step 6: At the end of each activity you can collect in all the papers and find out what grammatical mistakes students are making. But be sure not to tell an individual student what mistakes he or she has made, as this may inhibit their desire to communicate.
* From a story to a letter
Take a book or a short story and use it as a springboard for letter writing. Students imagine that they are one of the characters in the story, writing a letter to another of the characters. (You could also do this with a film.)
Step 1: In the middle of the reading, ask students to think for moment. Ask them: which character in the story impresses them most / what this character’s biggest problem is / who can help that character to resolve the problem.
Step 2: Ask students to imagine that they are this character. Tell them to write a letter to the character that can help them. Ask them to make some notes about what they want to say.
Step 3: When students have made notes, talk a little bit about formality and informality in letters and ask them to categorize some phrases as formal, informal or neutral, e.g. I am writing to you in order to … / Best wishes / Yours sincerely.
Step 4: Give students some time to write the letter. Make sure that they know how formal or informal their letter should be.
Step 5: Make a general list of positive points and mistakes that arose in the letters and go over this in class in a subsequent lesson. If students wrote to each other’s characters then you could ask them if they want to exchange letters.
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