Fluency in writing – what is it? How do you “teach” it?

Fluency in writing? What does that mean? How do you teach it?

Some problems I face teaching writing at university here in Japan are
a) a big spread of ability amongst students (some cannot put a sentence together, indeed have no idea what a “sentence” is, while others are nearly fluent)
b) (partly a result of a) above) unclear goals and unclear rubrics for assessment and evaluation.

I’m impressed with TPRS‘ focus on fluency, and am pondering how that translates into reading / writing activities.

Many TPRS teachers stress the importance of the fact that language is acquired audially, not visually: through the ears, not through the eyes (i.e. through listening rather than through reading). That seems to imply that the students who “can’t put a sentence together” should get lots of LISTENING in the early stages, rather than writing or even reading (tho perhaps reading and listening).

I teach one writing class twice a week, and I’ve been giving them free reading time on one day a week, and focusing on writing the other day.  What I have not been giving them is a clear sense of how they are doing. In my speaking classes, however, I’m working very hard to make sure that all students understand everything.

I’m re-thinking my objectives and what kind of assessments would fit those objectives, and what kind of rubrics would be needed.

Altho my students are getting lots of reading and writing practice, they’re not getting much assessment at the moment: I’m not telling them how they are doing other than by error correction, and to help promote fluency, I want to back off error correction for the time being. But I want to let them know how they are doing.

Over the weekend, I’ll be re-reading Susan Gross’ article on assessment (pdf), and taking a look at the rubrics for writing, reading and speaking created by Susan Gross and by Jason Fritze.

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