In searching for new activities for my own lessons, I sometimes forget the value of tried and true forms of language practice. Last week I threw out a brief paraphrasing task to a private student, and he responded positively to the challenge. In fact, he requested that we do this more frequently and in greater quantity in the future. What value does this exercise have? Here are 6 reasons to include paraphrasing tasks in language lessons.
- Paraphrasing activates vocabulary and develops the learner’s sense of appropriate word choice. The learner must think of synonyms, recall other word forms, and reflect on connotations.
- Paraphrasing teaches synonymous grammatical structures.
- Paraphrasing improves learners’ grasp of English syntax by requiring them to play around with it.
- Paraphrasing raises a writer’s awareness of variation. Knowing how to reword a sentence can improve a composition by varying sentence length, sentence structure, and vocabulary.
- Paraphrasing is needed in academic writing. Learners who are moving on to university courses need to be able to paraphrase quotes.
- Paraphrasing emphasizes that forms convey our meaning, and meaning is most important in communication. The relationship between the two is that the more accurate we are with form, the greater chance we have of expressing our exact meaning.
In my next post, I’ll offer some tips for including paraphrasing tasks in your lessons. Till then, here are some resources worth checking out:
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Definition and models of paraphrasing. Clear contrast given between a legitimate paraphrase of a quote and a plagiarized version.
- Duke University Libraries: Models of paraphrasing and formats for citing sources.
- “Developing Paraphrasing Skills: A Pre-Paraphrasing Mini Lesson” by Jane Frodesen of University of California-Santa Barbara: A PDF file (7 pages) with detailed steps for teaching the initial thought process behind paraphrasing. Frodesen’s steps model a logical approach that can be used with upper level ELLs.