Writing and Young Learners
Writing can be an engaging, interesting and inspiring activity for young learners. Children are active learners and thinkers (Piaget 1965), learn through social interaction (Vygotsky 1978) and learn effectively through scaffolding by more able others (Maybin et al 1992), who can be adults or peers. Collaborative and well-planned writing tasks encourage the context for all of these characteristics to be fully exploited in the young learner classroom.
The nature of writing
Writing is a complex skill to develop and master, focusing on both the end product and the steps to arrive there. Writing skills only develop when young learners are taught how to write and are given opportunities to practice these skills and strategies.
Why we need to develop writing skills with young learners
Writing tends to be somewhat neglected in the classroom, but it is an essential part of language development. Good writing skills are based on good reading skills, you need to recognise words in order to write and use them comprehensibly (Linse 2005).
Many young learners will not have fully developed their own L1 writing skills, and these strategies may not necessarily transfer to writing in English.
Writing allows young learners to practise new vocabulary and structures.
It allows for a high degree of personalisation and creativity.
It provides young learners to take risks and try out new language, with more “thinking time.”
Writing skills equip young learners with a solid base for future development and learning.
A focus on writing tasks in the classroom creates variety and caters for different learning styles
Teachers can diagnose learners’ strengths and areas to develop in terms of vocabulary, structure, spelling etc.
Focusing on this area can instil the joy of writing from an early age.
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