Writing in the target language – What’s the big deal?

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Writing in the target language – What’s the big deal?

Note: There are links to resources below.

As world language educators, we are tasked with not only making the target language accessible and comprehensible to our students, but also getting our students to engage in presentational, interpretive, and interpersonal modes of communication in the target language.

As many world language teachers try to find a suitable balance between these different aspects, some are inevitably stressed more than others. One may contend that oral and reading comprehension in the target language are currently stressed more in the classroom. Indeed, these are undeniably important aspects, but where does that leave the productive skills, such as writing?

Writing (with pen and paper) is an important aspect in the world language classroom – and beyond! It is a significant factor to help facilitate language acquisition and communication. Why? Let’s look:

  • Handwriting boosts learning and memory. According to Claudia Aguirre, PhD, neuroscientist & mind-body expert, physically drawing letters activates a distinct neural pathway that improves reading comprehension and memory of language!

  • The psychological benefits of writing with pen and paper are more powerful than typing with a keyboard. When you write, other thoughts will come to you – and you can more easily make connections. – David Posen, MD

  • We live in a society where we are constantly communicating through written language. Although we may dismiss it as “only” texting, tweeting, or posting, it is still communicating through writing. To be sure, these are not formal genres of writing, but they are (a form of) writing.

However, as you approach writing in your classroom, consider that writing must be more than filling in blanks, labeling objects on a worksheet, and answering comprehension questions. Writing in the target language must be engaging, personalized and creative. And, do not forget that students must be given the proper support to grow in their writing and expression.

Here are a couple of links to help you with compelling writing (in the target language) in your classroom:

A Recipe for Writing – just the presentation with writing activities and task for the classroom.

A Recipe for Writing Session Recording recording of me walking through the above presentation.

Grafted Writing – Book that employs a variety of activities centered on authentic text or text in the target language to improve students’ writing skills, while also promoting reading comprehension, speaking skills, and self-expression.

Lastly, I would like to hear your thoughts about writing in the world language in the classroom. Please share them in the comment section below!

Mach’s gut!

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