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Teaching Writing among Weak and Reluctant ESL Learners in Malaysian Classrooms: Part 2 (Addressing t

In the Malaysian context, writing is introduced since Year 1 in primary schools and lessons on writing are carried out up to the tertiary level. There have been reports that even the undergraduates at higher institutions of learning in Malaysia have not mastered the writing skills well. As an English Language teacher teaching the upper secondary school students for the past twenty four years, I agree that teaching writing and developing the relevant writing skills is an uphill task.

No matter how tough the challenge is, we the English teachers have to do our best to help our weak and reluctant learners. In most cases, teachers have to explore the possible ways on how to help their weak learners and address their writing anxieties. In dealing with the first anxiety that is fear of not having enough English vocabulary to write essays, I have personally composed three essays using simple words and sentence structures. How can these essays develop my weak learners to write? These steps are taken to convince them that actually they do have enough vocabulary to write essays.


1. Learners are asked to read the essay one by one.

2. They must underline all the words that they do not understand in each essay.

3. They count the number of the underlined words and reveal it to the teacher.

I have been asking my weak and reluctant learners to complete the tasks above for years. Most of them actually underline less than 20 words in each essay. What does this tell us? Well, it clearly indicates that MOST of the weak learners actually DO NOT have vocabulary problems as they always claim. They possess ENOUGH VOCABULARY to write essays. Many of them feel they just cannot write because they have not been coached and motivated to write well.

If you are keen, you may take these three simple SPM essays and let your weak and reluctant learners read. Ask them to complete the three tasks above and I am positive, they will be surprised with the fact that in actual they do have sufficient vocabulary to write!

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