Writing tasks in the foreign language classroom typically fall into one of two possible categories: writing as support skill and writing as main skill. Both are appropriate pedagogical tools, as long as both are included in the lesson plan. When designing a writing task, follow these simple steps:
- Make sure that your assignment is appropriate for the learners' language level.
- Select level-appropriate writing purpose.
- Decide on writing as a support skill or as a main skill.
- Identify sub-skills students need in order to complete the main task.
- Design activity set that prepares sub-skills.
- Guide students through pre-, during-, and post-writing activities.
A discussion of the preliminary decisions for L2 writing tasks.
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These points are important to consider in order to design more effective writing tasks that:
- fulfill the pedagogical purposes of the assignment (e.g., do not say that the task practices narration when all it does is drill the past tense),
- reflect pedagogically sound practices (e.g., the process approach to writing, effective feedback, etc.),
- can be successfully completed by the students (i.e., the sub-skills that they need have been reviewed and/or learned), and
- have a meaningful learning outcome (e.g., help students learn something they can actually use, either to support another skill area or to communicate in plausible/authentic L2 situations).
Think about how answering these questions can impact your teaching. Then click on the pdf for more questions to consider in designing writing tasks.