Let’s face it: I’m a bit of a weirdo and I actually like to write. Every beginning of the week, I check my institutional e-mail account to see if anyone has sent me a contribution to the Teachers' Portal. I approach this task with my own special reverence, knowing only too well that the chances of finding something are few and far between. If no one has sent me anything, I sit down and write an editorial myself. I don’t moan and grumble about it. Instead, I simply choose a subject which may be reasonably interesting to teachers and I go about my business of doing the writing.
As a writer, I’m not a great fan of formal plans. I prefer to sit down and start writing - whatever comes to mind. I take advantage of the fact that I’m using a word processor to change the order of sentences, cut and paste them, delete some, revamp others, check spelling etc. When it’s over, I let it rest (just like bakers do with the dough) for 15-20 minutes. I go back and re-read it looking for mistakes. (That is, to the best of my ability. In general, I’m a lousy proof-reader.) The text is then good to go.
This may be an oversimplified version of what effectively happens. Writing is clearly a very complicated task: If not, why would we be living a writing crisis? Why would university language students announce to the world they don’t like to write?
When we approach writing with students, we often forget that we are talking about a process - first and foremost, a process of discovery
. From the perspective of an EFL student, this implies: (a) discovering how wide or limited their vocabulary range may be; (b) discovering how much they may transfer from their own ability to write from L1 to L2; (c) discovering how they may be forced to simplify their point of view in order to make the task of writing their thoughts in a foreign language minimally doable.
Potentially, this process is infinitely more creative than getting students to do exercises from a workbook because it is associated with giving our students "a voice" in their own learning process.
Words, which convey meaning, will also empower us. Homo sapiens, homo scribens
: I think vigourously, therefore, I write.
GUILHERME BOMFIM PACHECO
Guilherme is a Senior Academic Coordinator and the Editor of the Teachers' Portal.