Writing skills are very important for students and professionals from various areas. Even though the technological developments of the last couple of decades have changed the way we interact, writing is still a necessary thing that we do on a daily basis.
Social media has changed many of our writing habits. For instance, when we communicate online, we usually stick with short and straightforward statements. However, while communication with friends and followers on social media can be quite simple and enable you to ignore some rules when it comes to professional communication, the way you write can tell a lot about your professionalism and education. Therefore, possessing good writing skills is always an advantage, if not a necessity.
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Even though educators may do their best to teach their students to write well, more than 40% of students who took the ACT test last year failed to meet the college-level writing requirements. Some students are struggling learners, in general, while others have problems specifically with writing. Improving writing skills is a difficult task that requires a lot of determination and patience.
Struggling writers need to be engaged in the learning process, and simply showing these students how to write is not enough. It’s important to understand the challenges struggling writers face so that educators can address these issues and plan the educational process accordingly.
Challenges of Struggling Writers
Quite often, students have problems with writing because their reading skills are not developed enough. For instance, there are many writing assignments that require students to consider some text and write their responses.
When students cannot provide a cohesive response based on the text, it can mean that they experience difficulties with reading. Reading and writing are two skills that don’t directly depend on each other, but usually, improficiency in reading affects writing, as well.
Struggling writers may also have problems with grammar. Sometimes, students can simply use various grammar check tools, but such tools cannot solve all problems. For instance, students may not understand the fundamental role of different parts of speech in sentences.
Students may also have a hard time trying to express their ideas in a logically correct way. The lack of logical organization is a common problem, and educators should address it if they want students to improve their writing skills.
Students may also suffer from not having a strong vocabulary. They may also know a definition of a certain word but be unable to properly use it in a sentence or within a certain context. Last but not least, struggling writers’ problems are often rooted in the lack of preparation. Some students never use pre-writing strategies.
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They don’t write outlines so the writing process turns into a sort of improvisation, and they cannot create a proper structure or need to edit their papers over and over again. In this case, educators must communicate the importance of proper planning and explain the connection between preparation and the quality of the final result.
How Educators Can Help Struggling Writers
1. Offer Opportunities to Write
It’s impossible to improve writing skills without practicing. Educators should always give students opportunities to write because, if teachers don’t do it, students won’t search for such opportunities themselves. Many students think that writing is boring so they may avoid it for as long as they can.
Teachers should encourage students to put their thoughts, memories, and emotions on paper. It’s also important to make sure that students practice writing not only in class. For instance, if a struggling writer finds a pen pal, it will be a perfect solution because they’ll be able to practice writing in an engaging way.
2. Teach Prewriting
Although prewriting cannot fix all the problems and help all struggling writers, it is necessary to help students learn to formulate their thoughts in a logically correct way and to understand the structure of writing content. Besides, even the best writers don’t write brilliant drafts that don’t need any editing.
To write comprehensive text, students need to know exactly what they’re going to write, and in which order they should present ideas to make their content easy to understand.
3. Offer Constructive Feedback
Offering feedback is extremely important. However, it’s even more important to make sure that such feedback is useful. Constructive feedback will help your students understand what they can improve, and why they need to improve these aspects of their writing.
A good approach is to ask students to evaluate their writing. Ask them, are their ideas expressed clearly? Does their writing have the right structure? Does the student stick to the topic? Discuss answers to these questions and explain both the strong and weak sides of writing.
4. Assign Interesting Topics
It’s difficult to put your effort into something when you don’t like it. Quite often, students find it difficult to complete some writing assignments because the topics are not interesting to them. We recommend that you always give students the opportunity to choose a topic when you can.
Of course, not all types of writing assignments enable students to choose the topics of their papers. However, in this case, you can still provide students with some options to choose from. We recommend that you always try to make writing assignments less boring so that students will be more engaged.
5. Help Students Revise and Edit Their Papers
All teachers are aware of the fact that students use writing services all the time. However, not all teachers know that many students use these services to simply get their papers edited and proofread. They check out the best paper writing service reviews online to understand what company has the best writers, and then they order proofreading and editing to turn their drafts into well-written papers.
Therefore, it’s important to teach students not only writing itself but also editing and proofreading, as well. Show them what exactly needs to be changed and explain why something is considered a mistake.
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Writing skills are important for everyone, but learning to write can be quite difficult. Students who learn to write face various challenges and teachers should know these challenges to be able to help their students. It’s important to make sure that students write often and prepare for the writing process properly.
Teachers should also keep students engaged and teach them to edit their papers. Struggling writers may experience different problems, but practice makes perfect. We recommend that you make sure that your students practice as often as possible, while also helping them in any way necessary.