Some things really can work better online and I think teaching writing is one of them. Here's a walk through of why I think this is the case and a couple of ideas for using Google docs to good effect in the online English teaching environment.
There are lots of
disadvantages of teaching English online but there are one or two things that
really work very well in this environment- probably better than face to face,
I’m Jo Gakonga
from ELT-Training.com and in this video, we’re going to look at one of those
things that I’ve found is great online and that’s teaching writing. It seems to
me that writing in a new language has lots of advantages. It’s a useful skill
to develop anyway, but also, it slows things down, allows the thinking time
that speaking doesn’t, and it’s a tangible product that allows you as a teacher
to see where the problems are and correct them or get the learners to correct
themselves or each other.
In my experience,
there are three main issues with teaching writing face to face. The first is
that it’s likely to be on paper- I know it doesn’t have to be but if it’s on a
screen, this also has problems when you’re trying to monitor and see it. So
it’s on paper and that means that editing is a rather painful process involving
rewriting everything. You could argue this is valuable, but I find most
learners don’t like doing it. The second issue is that it’s difficult to get
round all of your learners to give them support while they are writing and the
first few you see haven’t done much yet. Third problem? It’s often a one off
look at their writing at one point in time, done on a piece of paper and not
kept anywhere. Again, I know that this doesn’t have to be the case, but it
takes some effort to keep records.
So how is
teaching writing online better for these things? Well, obviously, it’s much
easier for learners to edit and correct their writing if it’s done
electronically and I think that it’s useful to teach learners how to use spell
checks and grammar checks effectively, too. They have access to these things in
the real world- so why not in class? How about the issue of monitoring? Enter
Google docs! You could use these in a couple of different ways. The first is
for a combined class doc- when you give them a writing task, just share a link
to a single Google doc in the chat and on that doc, have a designated space for
each of your learners to write. When you
all have that Google doc open, you can then see all of their writing as they
are doing it and add correction comments to help them to edit their work. This,
for me, is a game changer. You can see how everyone is doing on one screen, you
can help all of them, it’s fast and easy and my learners find it really
helpful. If you haven’t tried working like this, I’d really recommend it!
The other way
that you can use Google docs to build up portfolios of writing is for each
learner to have a single Goole doc that they share with you. When they’ve done
writing in class, they can cut and paste it into this doc or when they do
writing homework, they can do it on there. If they always write at the top of
the doc, with a clear heading for each new piece, you’ll build up an archive of
their writing, arranged in reverse chronological order over the weeks and
months that you teach them. They’ll be
able to look back and see the progress they’ve made, and so will you.
Hopefully, this will be motivating,. You could encourage them to add pictures
to it, make it look nice, and perhaps print it out at the end of the course.
So there are a
couple of writing ideas- I hope that you find them helpful and if you like
this, there are lots of other materials on elt-training. Bye.