Academic journal article International Education Studies

The Effects of Different Pre-Writing Strategies on Iranian EFL Writing Achievement

Academic journal article International Education Studies

The Effects of Different Pre-Writing Strategies on Iranian EFL Writing Achievement

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study aimed at investigating whether applying pre-writing strategies would affect the quality of L2 learners' compositions. Twenty three adult EFL students from Jahad-e-Daneshgahi English centre in Iran participated in this study. They were randomly assigned to control and experimental groups, including 11 and 12 participants in each. They were at the advanced proficiency level. Each student wrote five argumentative essays. Students in experimental group were treated to perform three pre-writing activities alternatively (concept map, reading relevant texts, and negotiation). The findings revealed that students wrote better compositions as a result of applying pre-writing strategies. Significant differences in two groups indicated that pre-writing activities had significant effect on the participants' writing achievement. The findings may have implications for English learners, English teachers and material developers.

Keywords: Concept mapping, Negotiation, Learning strategies, Pre-writing strategies

1. Introduction

Writing is more than a means to create a document; it can be a method to discover topics and explore ideas. Pre-writing refers to practice or experimental writing-writing that helps you get started and measure what you know, identify new ideas, and indicate areas requiring further research. It is a way of putting critical thinking into action. Pre-writing can help sharpen the skills of observation and evaluation. Like an artist making quick sketches before beginning a mural, students can test ideas, explore a range of topics, list ideas, and get a feel for their subject. Pre-writing can help them save time by quickly determining which ideas are worth developing. The purpose of the present study is; therefore, to explore the effects of new teaching strategies, namely, the application of concept mapping, reading relevant texts and negotiation alternatively. A study by O'Malley and Chamot (1990) suggested that successful L2/FL learners are aware of the learning strategies they use and why they use them. The matter of interest in this paper is to investigate the effect of the explicit teaching of the pre-writing strategies on L2 learners' writing improvement. The question is whether English language teachers can help students improve their self-control and attention in writing by the explicit instruction of learning strategies like alternate inclusion of concept mapping, reading relevant texts, and negotiation.

2. Literature Review

Hayes and Flower (1980, p.40) conceptualized writing as a "strategic action where writers employ strategies to juggle with the constraints of composing". They stated that composing strategies are decisions taken to cope with the problems. Hays and Flower (1980) presented a model of skilled writers in which cognitive processes formed a major component. These included three basic processes: planning what to say and how to say it; translating plans into written text; and reviewing to improve the text.

Literature reports on the benefits of concept mapping for organizing information, assessing in learning, comprehension of particularly complex communications, refining literacy framework, and successful understanding of the text (Ruddell & Boyle, 1989). A concept map, as a learning strategy, is defined as a visual representation of an individual's knowledge structure on a particular topic as constructed by the individual (Zimmaro & Cawley, 1998).

Concept maps represent the relationships among concepts (Novak, 1981). With the visual representation of key words, students can identify main issues of a text and organize these key issues in a meaningful way. Research reports that concept mapping has positive effects on academic writing (Zipprich, 1995; Peresich, Meadows, & Sinatra, 1990). Strategies such as concept mapping help students attend to task, focus on important textures, and organize materials.

Speaking activities like pre-writing discussions are popular in ESL writing classes. …

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