A question many English Language teachers ask is: How can I help my students improve in expository or argumentative essay writing? The lesson materials presented here provide an answer.
This set of instructional materials was developed to encourage a thinking process and genre practice approach to the teaching of expository writing, as part of research project on Intervention in the Teaching of Expository Writing by the Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice (CRPP).
The materials were written by Principal Investigator Dr Antonia Chandrasegaran, with input from English Language teachers in the two secondary schools where the research was conducted.
The materials were trialled, with favourable results, over a semester in the two schools in 2005. They are divided into five units, with specific lesson objectives for each unit as summarised in Table 1. Each unit includes a grammar component that instructs students on the grammatical forms for realising the thinking process and genre practice taught in the unit.
Table 1: Summary of instructional materials
|Unit||Title||Students will learn to:|
|Unit 1||We write to influence others||
|Unit 2||Choose support strategy||
|Unit 3||Select suitable information||
|Unit 4||Addressing opposing views||
|Unit 5||Reminding the reader of your goal||
The instructional approach adopted in these materials aims to initiate students into the genre practices of expository writing and to teach the thinking processes underlying these practices. By genre practices, we mean conventional ways in which we use language and organise texts to achieve social ends.
One conventional practice in the expository essay, for instance, is the explicit announcement of the writer’s position in the introductory paragraph. The thinking process underlying this genre practice includes identifying the social goal of the essay and defining the writer’s purpose with reference to the target reader.
To enable students to internalise the genre practices and underlying thinking processes of expository writing, teaching and learning activities take the form of:
- the study of sample texts to enable students to see for themselves how writers construct the social situation and target readers in their writing, as well as the strategies they employ to support their position;
- decision-making activities that require students to decide, with justification, which ideas among a given set of ideas best support a writer’s position;
- interactive role play that engages students in anticipating and addressing reader response to what they plan to say;
- writing exercises providing practice on specific thinking skills, genre practices and associated language use.
Teachers may adapt or copy these instructional materials for their own use in class or teachers’ workshops, provided that acknowledgement is given to CRPP and the author. (Advice on acknowledgement is given on the last page of each unit.)
Click here to read more about this project.