Sample and table method as a guarantee of successful exam preparation with writing in English
Style in formal and informal letters. Different kinds of exam tasks. The "Method of models and tables". A successful opinion essay. Education as the key to development. The Successful Writing (Proficiency Level) and the Mission authentic text-books.
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Стаття з теми:
Метод зразків і таблиць як запорука успішної підготовки до екзамену з письма англійською
Стаття містить опис досвіду використання методу зразків та таблиць з метою підготовки випускників до успішного складання ЗНО та інших екзаменів з іноземної мови. Авторка статті описує механізм використання письмових автентичних мовленнєвих зразків для складання схем, таблиць та опорних конспектів у процесі підготовки до екзамену, а також використання цих таблиць для написання учнями екзаменаційних завдань. Метод зразків та таблиць в авторській інтерпретації поєднує науковість та творчий підхід до викладання іноземної мови.
A considerable span of time has passed since our students were first made to sit Outer Independent Assessment Exams (OIAE). We can claim now that we, the educators, have gained experience in teaching our students successful writing in these exams. Still, the questions about 'how to write' and 'what to write' remain exceedingly relevant, especially with less experienced teachers in case they lack authentic educational sources.
The author of this article has been teaching English in Kherson Classic School N 6 (specializing in teaching English since 1960) for more than 30 years by now, and for more than 15 years - using authentic textbooks by Express Publishers, Macmillan Education and Oxford Publishers. Thus, it must be mentioned that the methods for teaching writing described further have developed on the basis of experience accumulated during the whole period of teaching, or at least started to mould long before the OIAE were introduced.
However, it must also be admitted that getting the students prepared for this modern form of assessment when it was first introduced set forth a challenge which had to be met with due efficiency on the teacher's part. And here is the explanation why: though most public exams for students of English include a writing component (which allows the examiner to get a better picture of student's overall language ability than a test of specific language points does) and however good the students' knowledge of the language may be - the tasks that they are asked to do may come as a surprise if those students have not been prepared for this very exam. This happens because most tests have their own special features, and if we want our students to do well as they are capable of, they need to have a familiarity with those specialties. They also have to be prompted to use their best planning and editing skills in an exam situation. Thus, while developing the students' writing skills, the author of this article has arrived at the conclusion that the students must be given an overall comprehensive support when taught how to do their writing exam tasks. In order to do this, however, we need to be absolutely clear about what tasks are likely to be, and what will be expected of the examinee.
Among the many different kinds of exam tasks that are currently in use, the following are some of the most common:
reports and reviews;
discursive compositions (a 'for and against' essay, opinion essay);
letters (informal and formal);
Among the things we need to offer students, therefore, are the following:
Students need to see what is expected of them. One way of doing this is to show them model answers - ones that would satisfy the examiners of the papers they are aiming to sit. These models should be thought as frameworks which students can lean on to help them.
A crucial issue for all exam candidates is to understand what they are being asked to do decide what type of text (essay, description) they have to write. Teachers need to stress the importance of reading instructions carefully and give students considerable practice in reading and interpreting rubrics.
Students need to be encouraged to do brainstorming, note making and planning. They have to think what style is appropriate for the text they are going to write, note down or recall some sophisticated words or phrases, appropriate to the subject and the text type.
When students write in an exam they need to be able to write quickly but not carelessly. Teachers have to set timed essays and compositions both in the class and at home. Students can write a rough draft, try to vary their vocabulary and structures.
Students have to read through what they have written to correct the possible errors, check that the division into paragraphs is logical and that they are of a similar length.
MOCK EXAMS AND PRACTICE PAPERS
Students should have a chance to take mock exams, where they have to complete realistic exam tasks in a realistic exam setting. This can be done in class or at home.
Still, all these techniques are effective if students have common knowledge of writing different types of Academic papers, their structures and peculiarities. In this article we want to elicit rules and tips for letters and essays writing which can help the students of senior forms with their exams. The author of this article has the experience in developing a great number of tables with the expressions in the help for the pupil when writing different exam tasks. We also make sure there are models how to write (these models can be the sources of the expressions for the tables). The author's method can be called the 'method of models and tables'.
Letters are one of the most widespread forms of written communication. Teaching letter writing gives us the chance to deal with a variety of forms and functions that are an essential part of language mastery. We write letters to invite, explain, apologize, congratulate, complain, inquire, order, apply and thank. Each of these language functions has its own associated vocabulary, sentence structures and appropriate choice of words and tone to fit the audience. Within each function there are various levels of formality and informality.
A good letter should consist of:
an appropriate greeting (Dear Peter, Dear Mr Brown, Dear Sir/ Madam);
an introduction clearly stating the reason you are writing;
a main body in which the subject is developed, a new paragraph begun for each main point;
a final paragraph in which you sum up the topic or express your wish for something to be done;
an appropriate ending (Yours/ Best wishes, Yours sincerely, / Yours faithfully).
Before we start writing a letter it is important to think about who we are writing to. If we use the wrong style, the letter will look odd, silly or impolite. There are some factors which help us decide whether a letter is formal or informal. These are:
the opening of the letter (Dear Sir/Madam/Dear Mary);
the topics in the letter (when formal, they should be only facts);
the language used (formal or informal);
the closing in the letter and the name at the end of it (Yours sincerely, Peter Brown/ Love, Peter).
In a formal letter when you know the name of the recipient, you should include their name and title in the address. But remember that you do not need to write addresses in the exam.
Style in formal and informal letters
Semi-Formal or Informal letters
Salutation: Dear Sir/ Madam,
Salutation: Dear Mary,
- formal style - impersonal-
- short - zappy
language not too direct;
- complex sentence- frequent use of
- use of slang or colloquial
Passive Voice -single verbs - non
English - use of idioms-
colloquial English -advanced
- pronouns are often
- each paragraph develops one
- chatty, use of literary
- only facts, no use of literary
- use of short forms;
- no use of short forms;
- Ending: Best wishes/ Love/
Ending: Yours faithfully,
PARAGRAPH PLAN FOR THE LETTERS
reason(s) for writing
development of the subject
Formal Letters Section 2
Formal letters are usually written for some of the following:
To apply for a job.
To make a complaint.
To order goods.
To the editor of a newspaper.
To ask for something - a form, an appointment.
To ask for information.
To make a booking for a holiday etc.
To invite someone to an event or to take part in a school open day, a JCSP celebration etc.
Points to note:
When you do not know the name of the person to whom you are writing, you may start with 'Dear Sir/Madam'.
If you begin with 'Dear Sir/Madam', you end the letter with 'Yours faithfully', and your full name.
If you know the name of the person you are sending the letter to e. g. Dear Ms Smith, you end the letter with 'Yours sincerely' and your full name.
Remember to use capital letters, full stops and commas.
Use paragraphs in your letter - at least 3.
A letter of complaint
A formal letter of complaint is written to complain about a problem which has arisen. It should explain the reasons for the complaint, and usually includes a suggestion/request/demand concerning what should be done.
Mild or strong language can be used depending on the writer's feelings and the seriousness of the complaint, but abusive language must never be used.
The nature of the complaint should be clearly stated in the first paragraph. Each aspect of the topic should be presented in a separate paragraph containing a clear topic sentence. Each complaint should be supported by clear justification.
I am writing to
Mild complaint complain about/draw your attention to (the problem of)... express my disappointment/dissatisfaction with.
Strong complaint express my annoyance/extreme dissatisfaction with/anger at/protest about.
I regret to/feel must inform you how appalled/shocked I was.
I hope/trust this matter will be dealt with/resolved as soon as possible.
receive your immediate attention. not be treated lightly.
I insist you replace the. at once
I expect you to send me a replacement
I would be grateful if you could send me a refund/replacement
I must insist on.../insist (that)/demand.warn you that. Unless this matter is resolved.../Unless satisfactory compensation is offered.
I demand a full refund
I will have no choice but to/I will be forced to take further/legal action.
I intend to sue.
I am taking the matter to court
Complaints and justifications can be linked with proper linking words:
Sequence: Firstly, next, then, also, next, last, another, so, Finally
Result: so, as a result, consequently
Addition: In addition, Furthermore, also, what is more moreover
Contrast: However, Nevertheless, Still, Although/even though, Despite/in spite of, but
I am writing to express my strong dissatisfaction with the faulty TV set which I bought from your store last week
Firstly, when I bought the TV the shop assistant assured me that it had Teletext and stereo sound. However, when I turned it on, the sound was awful and the picture was blurry.
Furthermore, I was told that the TV was guaranteed for 2 years. Although I have asked you repeatedly to replace the TV, I have not yet received a reply from you.
I hope that this matter will receive your prompt attention and that my TV set will be replaced within the week.
ANOTHER TYPE OF FORMAL WRITING - OPINION ESSAY Opinion essays are formal in style. They require your opinion on a topic which must be clearly stated and supported by reasons. A successful opinion essay should have:
an introductory paragraph in which you should introduce the topic and state your opinion + the reason for writing
a main body which consists of two or more paragraphs. Each paragraph should present a separate viewpoint supported by your reasons + a paragraph which states the opposing point of view
a conclusion in which you restate your opinion using different words.
In your essay you should consider such points:
First decide whether you agree or disagree with the subject of the topic and make a list of your points and reasons.
Write well-developed paragraphs consisting of more than one sentence.
Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence which summarizes what the paragraph is about.
Linking words should be used throughout your composition.
Write proper beginning and ending:
make reference to a strange scene or situation;
address the reader directly;
start with the quotation;
state a personal opinion;
give the reader something to consider;
end with the quotation.
How to Express the Opinion Stating your opinion
In my opinion/view...
I think/believe/am of the opinion that.
It seems/appears to me that.
It is my considered opinion that.
To my mind.
My opinion on the matter is.
I (strongly) agree with. I (strongly) disagree with.
I am in favour of I am (totally) opposed
Justifying Opinion This would mean.
By doing this, we.
In this way...
If..., the result would be.
Giving Opposing Views
On the other hand, ...
It can/could be argued that.
The opposing view is.
The opposite viewpoint.
The conflicting view is.
There are people who oppose
Contrary to what most people believe
As opposed to the above ideas
To list points: to begin with, to start with, lastly, firstly, finally.
To add more points: furthermore, in addition, what is more, moreover, also.
To give examples/reasons: therefore, for instance, because, then, in this way, since, this would mean that, such as, consequently, as a result, for example.
To introduce the opposing viewpoint: whilst, nevertheless, on the other hand, however.
To conclude: all in all, to sum up, all things considered.
Many people today believe that getting a well-paid job is essential, while finishing school is not. I strongly disagree with this view for a number of reasons.
First of all, education is the key to development. Doctors, scientists and teachers use their education to advance society. Without them, there would be no cures for diseases and no progress in technology.
What is more, a good education can help to achieve economic success. Business would not be successful without educated people to run them. Success and financial reward go hand in hand. As a result, highly trained people are often also better paid people.
Of course, there are people who argue that education is not necessary in order to make lots of money. It is true that some highly paid jobs do not require a high level of education, but they are rare. What is more, a good education offers more rewards that just the ability to make money.
All in all, I believe that although money is important in life, it should not be given more emphasis than education. After all, with education comes knowledge and without this individuals and society cannot advance.
Such tips can be prepared by a teacher for each type of writing. These tables will help your students to prepare for their examination, make their writing task easier.
Don't overuse exclamation marks, even when writing to a friend or close relative.
Don't refrain from using opening and sentence to get the sense of it.
We should also state that it is very important that the teacher makes sure the students have all the tables (on all the kinds of exam writing tasks) with the useful expressions in their folders/languages portfolios. A great idea is engaging students in developing the tables, inviting them to add more expressions, compile handouts - share with their peers. It is highly recommendable that the sources should be authentic: the author of this article prefers using the Successful Writing (Proficiency Level) and the Mission authentic text-books.
Though our (and the students') final aim is certainly a good exam result, using the method described above is very beneficial in terms of developing the pupils' creative skills and the highest level of their linguistic accuracy on the way to proficiency.
Recommended authentic sources
exam letter essay table
1. Beare, Kenneth. Strategies for Teaching Writing. - [Електронний ресурс]. - Режим доступу: http://esl. about. com/cs/teachingtech nique/a/a_twrite. htm.
2. Good academic writing source for seniors and university students. - [Електронний ресурс]. - Режим доступу: http ://neilwhitfield. wordpress.com/2009/05/27/good-academic-writing-source-for- seniors-and-university-students/
3. Teaching Students to Write Scholarly Papers. - [Електронний ресурс]. - Режим доступу: http://www.colorado.edu/gtp/2012/springtutor /teaching-students-write-scholarly-papers.
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