Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Implementing Keyword and Question Generation Approaches in Teaching EFL Summary Writing

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Implementing Keyword and Question Generation Approaches in Teaching EFL Summary Writing

Article excerpt


Summary writing has been considered an important aspect of academic writing. However, writing summaries can be a challenging task for the majority of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners. Research into teaching summary writing has focused on different processes to teach EFL learners. The present study adopted two methods - keyword and question generation - to guide Taiwanese university students in writing summaries in English. To decrease the students' apprehension resulting from the difficulties in writing summaries, portfolios were used as a vehicle to help the students collect and reflect on the articles they read and the summaries they wrote. This paper investigated how much keyword methods and question generation helped Taiwanese EFL university students improve their English summary writing. The data showed that, with the help of keywords and question generation, the two approaches helped the majority of the participants increase their English reading and summary writing abilities.

Keywords: keyword, question generation, writing, summary, portfolio

1. Introduction

1.1 Overview

In recent years, summary writing has become an essential type of writing in which students read articles and summarize main ideas in their own words. However, Johns (1998) argues that traditional approaches to summary writing often ignore the processes involved and frequently overestimate the abilities of the students, assuming they can easily do what their teachers have taught them. The impetus for conducting the research reported here came from my second-year university students' poor performance on summary writing in their compulsory English Reading and Writing course in Taiwan. The majority of the students had difficulties in grasping the main points in an English article and paraphrasing them in short summaries, even though summary skills had been taught for several hours in class.

To improve and strengthen the students' summary writing skills and enhance their motivation, portfolio collection was adopted. In the last two decades, there has been a proliferation of research concerned with the usage of portfolio collection in L1 primary and secondary schools (Anderson & Bachor, 1998; Koretz, 1998; Clemmons et al., 1993; De Fina, 1992), and the research focus has usually been on the quality of information portfolios provide, i.e., the reliability and validity of the information (Hamp-Lyons, 1996). Recently, there has been a shiftin attention to exploring students' perceptions and the benefits of using portfolios in English as a Second Language and EFL writing classrooms (Romova & Andrew, 2011; Aydin, 2010). Portfolios have proven beneficial to language learners' reading and writing abilities in L1 and EFL contexts. Therefore, in the present study, portfolios serve as a vehicle to help EFL learners in Taiwan collect and reflect upon their summary writing. It is hoped that the findings of the present study can provide teachers, researchers, or educators with evidence of the benefits of implementing the keyword method and question generation to enhance university students' summary writing ability in an EFL context.

1.2 Implementation of Keyword Method and Question Generation

Quality summary writing requires comprehendingthe text, selecting important information, combining ideas, and paraphrasing in one's own words. Additionally, writing a summary can be influenced by the genre students read. Campbell (1990), investigating how NS and NNS university students in the USA used information from reading texts in their own academic writing, suggests that process-oriented writing might develop students' awareness of academic texts and help them process summary writing. Chen and Su (2012) adopt a genre-based approach to teaching Taiwanese university students writing summaries of short novels, emphasizing the understanding of context in narrative essays. These two studies focus on the implementation of two different approaches to teaching students to address specific types of reading genres. …

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