Correct Writing and Spelling in the ESL Classroom

Correct Writing and Spelling in the ESL Classroom

Seetha Jayaraman (Dhofar University, Oman)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6619-1.ch016
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Writing is an activity that serves as a link between theory and practice. Learning to write involves the basic level of learning to spell a spoken word or phrase and the advanced level of learning to write creatively. This chapter discusses the practical challenges faced by the teacher and student in learning to spell words and applying the rules of grammar in English. Authentic examples are drawn from writing samples from the ESL classroom, produced in a session of timed writing when teaching academic writing skills to undergraduate learners in Oman's Dhofar Region. The results of the study point to the use of a bilingual approach as a very useful method for bringing out the similarities and differences in the use of the target language. This minimizes Mother Tongue interference in students' writing in English.
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Background To The Study

During the 1970s and 1980s innovative teaching methods and approaches emerged (e.g. Communicative Language Teaching and the Natural Approach). For example, James Asher’s Total Physical Response (1977) is a comprehension-based approach to language teaching and based on the assumption that it should start with understanding the language we hear or read before we proceed to production. A set of principles was devised to help L2 learners increase their understanding:

  • Instructors provide L2 learners with a non-verbal model that they need to imitate.

  • In the beginning, instructors issue commands and then perform the actions with students. Later on, students demonstrate an understanding of the commands by performing the actions alone.

  • Vocabulary and grammar learning are the skills emphasized. Understanding should precede production.

Another comprehension-based method is the so-called Natural Approach (Krashen and Terrell, 1983), which is based on the Monitor Model Theory developed by Krashen (1982) in the 1970s. This approach suggested that, if L2 learners were exposed to ‘comprehensible’ input and were provided with opportunities to focus on meaning and message rather than grammatical forms and accuracy, they would be able to acquire the L2 in much the same way as L1 learners. One of the hypotheses of Krashen’s Monitor Model Theory was:

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