Academic Writing: When to Teach Mechanics

Just as a conversation class shouldn’t be nonstop group discussion, writing class shouldn’t be nonstop independent writing. Students’ writing skills will improve not only through creating compositions, but also through studying model texts, practicing reflection, doing controlled exercises, focusing attention on grammar and vocabulary, and receiving feedback and correction. In short, most writing mechanics don’t simply emerge on their own through numerous writings. Writing mechanics are learned both directly and indirectly.

So if our instruction should include direct teaching of writing mechanics, is it best to address them on an as-needed basis or present them as a topic for an entire lesson? Problems isolated to one student’s writing don’t need to be solved as a whole class. However, when a certain aspect poses difficulty for a number of students in a given class, it’s very appropriate to provide an explanation and relevant practice that everyone can benefit from.  The importance of the mechanic and/ or the degree of difficulty it poses for a given group of students will dictate whether you address it briefly or build an entire lesson around it.

(To Be Continued)

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