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TEFL Masterclass – Read to Write and Write for Your Reader

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Erin Vickerman – Teacher Trainer & ESOL Lecturer/Specialist.

DELTA qualified teacher and freelance trainer with 14 years’ experience in EFL with 3 of those in FE.

What you will learn

How often do you truly support your students with their reading and writing? Be honest…(very honest!)… in your classroom, do readings ever happen without much exploration? And do writings ever feel like a way of just mopping up all that language you’ve been teaching? If you’re thinking yes, you’re not alone! Perhaps this happens because reading and writing are not as interactive as the other skills, and sometimes as teachers we don’t get stuck into the process with our students as much as we should. And unfortunately, leaving students to their own devices can cause a disconnect between how they read and write a text.

Let me ask you some more questions… let’s get stuck in! How aware are your students of different texts and the strategies they employ when reading or writing them? How can your students predict the information in a text before reading thoroughly?

How can they produce the relevant features of texts more confidently? How can your students become more active readers and how can they use their reading strategies to write more competently for their intended reader?

If I’ve got you wondering, sign up for this workshop where I will be exploring these questions, suggesting some basic frameworks and sharing some tips for teaching the two skills in conjunction. I’m not reinventing the wheel (!) but I’ll be offering my perspective on bridging the gap between the two skills.

Workshop Summary

Introduction to Active Reading and Writing

Erin introduces the masterclass “Read to Write and Write for Your Reader,” aiming to delve into the complexities of reading and writing beyond the fundamental levels. She challenges the traditional perception of reading as passive, advocating for a shift towards perceptive reading where engagement with the text is both active and insightful. This approach is designed to narrow the gap between reading and writing, fostering a deeper comprehension and appreciation of texts which is pivotal for effective writing. Erin posits that understanding the symbiotic relationship between reading and writing is essential for overcoming common educational challenges, thereby enhancing students’ skills in both domains.

Bridging the Gap Between Reading and Writing

The session underscores the frequent issues encountered by students, such as focusing too narrowly on unfamiliar words or overlooking the broader context of texts. Erin emphasises the educator’s role in guiding students towards a balanced approach that values both the finer details and the overarching themes within texts. She introduces the concept of being a ‘detective’ in reading, a method that involves a holistic analysis of texts—examining layout, imagery, purpose, and intended audience. This strategy not only improves comprehension but also equips students for real-world reading and writing tasks, preparing them for academic assessments and everyday life beyond the classroom.

Enhancing Comprehension Through Text Analysis

Erin further elaborates on text analysis, advocating for a deep dive into language, register, and style to uncover a text’s purpose and audience. This detailed exploration enriches students’ understanding and application of linguistic features, effectively enhancing their reading and writing abilities. Theoretical frameworks like TAVI (Text as a Vehicle for Information) and TALO (Text as a Linguistic Object) are introduced to support this comprehensive approach. Erin recommends prioritising the broader context and predictive reading of TAVI before focusing on the linguistic intricacies of TALO, offering a more realistic and effective strategy for cultivating reading and writing skills.

Classroom Strategies for Active Engagement

The masterclass suggests various classroom activities, such as gallery walks and guided discoveries, to foster students’ engagement with different text types. These activities aim to increase students’ exposure to diverse formats and enhance their analytical skills, enabling them to identify essential features and ‘ingredients’ of each text. By actively engaging with texts, students learn to appreciate the nuances of different formats and apply these insights to their writing. Erin also highlights the importance of providing students with ‘recipes’ or frameworks for writing, which detail essential text elements and conventions, aiding students in producing structured, audience-aware, and purposeful communication.

Reflections on Reading and Writing as Interconnected Skills

In conclusion, Erin reflects on the active and interconnected nature of reading and writing. Utilising analogies like ‘being a detective’ and ‘cooking with the right ingredients,’ the session aims to make these processes more accessible and memorable for students. This active engagement and understanding of text components empower students to become autonomous learners, capable of writing with their readers in mind. The overarching goal is to cultivate a deeper mastery of reading and writing, urging students to thoughtfully apply these skills in both their academic pursuits and real-world communications, thereby ensuring their preparedness for the multifaceted demands of contemporary communication.

Reflective Questions

Have a quick think about the reflective questions below in order to get the most out of the workshop:

  1. Do you ever feel that teachers and students can be over-focussed on the result rather than the process? What experience do you have of this?
  2. How do you get your students to reflect on how they completed a reading and writing task?
  3. How can simple text analysis support students inside and outside the classroom?

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