Educators Speak: TEACHING WRITING (I)

Article excerpt

HAVING taught in Taiwan and in Singapore from 2000 to 2010, I came home with many innovative ideas for language and literature education. Thus, I organized my own company in March, 2012, the Blessed Teresa Language and Education Consultancy Services.

I launched the company in Nasugbu, Batangas, my hometown. Adelaido A. Bayot Memorial School hosted my consultancy's Summer 2012 speech and writing modules.

That was how I met Rica (a pseudonym). She was 12 and was going to be in first year high school. Her parents enrolled her in essay writing for children.

Rica's hunched shoulders, downcast eyes, and inaudible voice said it all - she was in dire need of teacher intervention. I asked her during the orientation session to write a paragraph. She did not know how. So I told her to write three sentences, instead.

Here was Rica's first sentence: "Yesterday ay play a laptap end tagotaguan end ipad." [sic]

I told Rica that 'ay' should be 'I' and 'play' should be 'played.' Then I asked her to write another sentence.

This was what she wrote: "Yesterday I played may father laptap and may sisters ipad. " [sic]

She was not a hopeless case. She was able to immediately apply what I taught her.

I felt that Rica did not read much, so I asked her to read a big book. She stumbled on every word. However, she repeated accurately every word which I said aloud for her. It showed that the spoken word was the key to addressing Rica's creeping world of illiteracy.

So I advised Rica's parents to enroll her in the speech and drama module, beginner level. I briefed the facilitator, Caridad (a pseudonym), about Rica. During Rica's first session, the lesson was on /th/. There were word, phrase, and sentence drills. And then there was a two-paragraph story entitled "The Night Bath."

Reading aloud words, phrases, and sentences was easy. But would Rica be able to read the two-paragraph story? To my amazement and Caridad's, Rica did it!

She did not stop in the middle of a word. She did not get stuck. She just read slowly but surely, like a new bicycle rider.

What strategy did Caridad employ? Knowing that Rica was a good listener and mimic, Caridad always called her last. To support Rica in the oral reading, Caridad moved close to Rica and, when needed, whispered the words to her.

Did Rica memorize the words as she heard them? Perhaps.

* * *

The first module which Rica had enrolled was essay writing for children. I handled it and I designed a differentiated lesson for her.

There were two honor students in class who were going to be in grade six. They could pile paragraphs upon paragraphs, but they had problems with lack of clarity, inadequate content, lack of focus and organization, broken grammar, and terrible spelling. Rica was not alone after all.

For example, "chicken pox" was spelled as "tsikenpaks." "Ferris wheel" was spelled as "periswil."

One of the visions of Blessed Teresa Lang-Ed is "language fluency for communication and empowerment. …