Designing L2 Writing Tasks

Activity Sets: A Process Approach to Writing

One of the most important requirements for designing effective writing tasks is to think of coherent, connected activity sets, which include pre-writing, during-writing and post-writing activities. Connected activity sets help students complete the writing task successfully and foster the process of writing.

Working backwards from the final task makes it easier to design such activity sets. Only by viewing writing in the broader context of activity sets can you ensure that writing is taught as a process, with brainstorming, several writing and re-writing tasks, and active revision. While the activity sets are presented here in chronological sequence for clarity, during actual writing, there is much recursivity among the steps.

  1. Pre-writing activities prepare learners for a final writing task and activate, review or build sub-skills that prepare the learner for completing the main writing task. They usually focus on the audience, the content, and the vocabulary necessary for the task. These are typically word and phrase level activities.
  2. During-writing activities engage learners in recursive writing, self-editing and revisions. As the students are guided through writing and re-writing, the teacher should guide them through other areas such as syntax.
  3. Post-writing activities help learners reflect on and revise their writing based on feedback from an audience, such as peers and/or an instructor.

Process-based Activity Set for L2 Writing

Pre-writing tasks During writing Post-writing tasks
Pre-writing tasks build/review sub-skills for the final writing activity. Tasks during the main writing process encourages self-editing or peer-review. Post-writing tasks allow for reflection, sharing, or publishing of the final product.
The process is recursive. Even after the post-writing task(s), new sub-skills can be developed for a next revision on the written assignment or for the next assignment.