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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds We’re focusing on writing skills now and helping learners to develop those. Yep. And, probably, it’s very much the same as in a face-to-face classroom. The actual writing will probably take place at home. So you’d set it as a homework task. But as in a face-to-face classroom, the set-up of it would need to be in the class. So if you are doing - I don’t know, they have to write a description of something or they have to write a letter, you would provide a model during the lesson. Maybe you’d give a reading comprehension task for them to do. You’d talk about layout. You’d talk about the way that the thing is organised, text structure, and so on.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 seconds And you might do some language input during the lesson for them to be able to produce that writing task. And, of course, there’s also the issue of subskills. Do you want to talk a little about writing subskills that you might develop during the lesson? Yeah, well, you might, for example, focus on punctuation or linking ideas or helping learners to, I don’t know, use a wider variety of vocabulary or word order or something like that. So you might do a little bit of practise of writing in the classroom. Sure, things like formal, informal register - Exactly. - formal, informal language, you know, which is appropriate for which type of letter, for example, or email. Absolutely.

Skip to 1 minute and 20 seconds But like you say, the main writing task will probably be done at home. But then, as a follow up to it, in the next lesson, you’d do some stuff on feedback, a little bit of correction, wouldn’t you? You would, absolutely. So you’d give feedback. And I think what’s great is when learners are using technology to write rather than by hand, as a lot of learners do in the face-to-face classroom. You’ve got learners sending you a Word document with the text on, so you can do quite a lot with that. There are quite ways that you can give feedback, written feedback, and also, oral feedback, as well.

Teaching writing skills in online lessons

Let’s finish this week by focusing on developing learners’ writing skills in an online classroom. While an online teacher’s approach to writing skills will be similar to that of a teacher in a face-to-face classroom, there are some differences due to the nature of teaching online.

Task 1

Watch Lindsay and Marie Therese talking about teaching writing skills online and take notes on the things below to help you do the next task.

Activities done in and out of the lesson  
Lesson structure  
Writing sub-skills  
Feedback on writing  
Please write your notes on a piece of paper

Task 2

Imagine you’re teaching a writing lesson to a B2-level one-to-one adult learner, who’s preparing for university. The lesson focus is on structuring a paragraph in an essay.

Read these five tasks which make up the lesson. Which are you likely to do in class? Which are you likely to do out of class? Why? Use your notes from task 1 to help you.

  1. You provide the learner with a model essay paragraph and ask the learner to identify where the main point is stated (the topic sentence) and the purpose of the other sentences (supporting details).

  2. You ask the learner to put five sentences in the correct order to create a cohesive and coherent paragraph.

  3. You ask the learner to write an essay paragraph on a topic already discussed in a previous lesson.

  4. You ask the learner to write a complete essay.

  5. You provide feedback to the learner on the quality of their essay.

Check your answers.

Reflect and share

Think of a writing lesson you teach face-to-face. How do you think you might need to adapt it when teaching online? Why? Share your ideas in the comments.

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching English Online: China and Beyond

Cambridge Assessment English