Teaching Writing among Weak and Reluctant ESL Learners in Malaysian Classrooms: Part 4 (GORENG: A Te
Kroll (2001: 230) states that “producing a successful written text is a complex task which requires simultaneous control over a number of language systems as well as an ability to factor in considerations of the ways the discourse must be shaped for a particular purpose”. Campbell (1998) also points out the complexity of writing and highlights the intricacy of teaching writing. It has always been the concern of ESL teachers to be able to deal with the challenges in their writing classrooms. However, there are two crucial questions here, “How?” and “What is the ‘right’ method or approach?”. Tribble (1996) claims that the teaching of writing has been a vital element in the education systems and there are various yet differing views of the best ways of teaching writing.
Personally, I concur with the views presented above. English teachers in Malaysia have their own distinct ways of promoting and developing writing skills among their learners; they have always wanted the best for all their learners. In term of teaching writing, they are also always hungry and thirsty for techniques or ways to develop writing skills especially among their weak learners.
Moving on from KONA technique, I also developed GORENG in 2011. Basically, GORENG stresses a lot on using simple ideas to produce a paragraph. Weak learners are coached and motivated to write whatever simple ideas that come across their mind. Mind you, this paragraph writing stage will not be successful if the weak learners have not mastered KONA technique. Please refer to this PowerPoint presentation for more details on GORENG.
To further prepare weak learners for essay writing, I strongly encourage my learners to write paragraphs focusing on certain sub-headings such as people, places, events and incidents. Why? It is simply because whatever essays they have to write in future, there will always be people, places, incidents and/or events. I am positive if learners are given enough paragraph writing practices based on these four sub-headings, they should be able to write essays better.
Perhaps, some of you may wonder - are my techniques like KONA and GORENG the best? Definitely, I HAVE NEVER MADE such a claim but one thing for sure, those techniques have been working well in my own classrooms. Is using KONA and GORENG techniques the right thing to do in your ESL writing classrooms? Well, the answer is not mine. It is yours. Personally, again, I would say, IT DEPENDS. Freeman (2000) asserts that the answer ‘It depends’ does not show a teacher is trying to avoid taking a firm position but actually it is a sign of wisdom of teaching practice. Johnson (1999: 1) always gives a standard answer, “It depends”, to any question about teaching.
“I believe there is no right way to teach and there are no simple answers to the complexities of teaching. Knowing what to do in any classroom depends on who your students are, what they know, and what they need to know. It depends on who you are, what you know and believe, and what you want your students to be able to know and do. It depends on what you are expected to teach, how you teach it, and what your students are expected to do with what you have taught them. It depends on how your students view you and to what extent they value what you are trying to teach them. It depends on how your students are viewed within the school where you teach and within the community where the school is located. The list goes on and on.”
[I conducted a workshop with the title "Enhancing the Development of Supporting Ideas and Details in Essays through Task-Based Language Teaching" using this GORENG technique at The 6th International English Language Teaching Conference 2013 (iELT-Con 2013), Bayview Hotel, Georgetown, Penang]
Campbell, C. 1998. Teaching Second-Language Writing – Interacting with Text. Toronto:
Heinle & Heinle Publishers
Freeman, D.L. 2000. Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching 2nd Edition. Oxford:
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Johnson, K.E. 1999. Understanding Language Teaching – Reasoning in Action. Toronto:
Heinle & Heinle Publishers
Kroll, B. 2001. Considerations for Teaching an ESL / EFL Writing Course. In Celce-Murcia,
M. (Ed.). 2001. Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language 3rd Edition. Boston:
Heinle & Heinle
Tribble, Christopher. 1996. Writing. Oxford: Oxford University Press