Writing Yourself: A Process of Learning
Writing yourself as a means of communication had been attributed various definitions. According to the Online Encyclopaedia of Writing Systems and Languages, “writing is a method of representing language in visual or tactile form. System of writing yourself use sets of symbols to represent the sounds of speech, and may also have symbols for such things as punctuation and numerals”.
However, writing yourself cannot be limited to orthography symbolisation of speech as it extends it to reach purposeful selection and organisation of expressions according to the conventions of the target language. The latter concern grammar, vocabulary, handwriting, spelling, layout and punctuation. Equally important aspect of writing yourself is crafting which Hedge explains it as “the way in which a writer puts together the pieces of the text, developing ideas through sentences and paragraphs within an overall structure”. Research in the field of writing revealed that writing yourself skill is very complex as it encompasses multitude of processes to reach the final product. It is not a mere representation of ideas, but it is the exhibition of multiple processes in which the writer gets involved namely cognition, problem solving and social connection.
Writing Yourself is a Cognitive Process
The human’s brain enables people to engage in various activities while attempting to write something. It enables them to explore the world around them, analyze it and then translate it by selecting an appropriate language. In this regard, Sinclair mentions that skilled writers show a strong sense of observation, and that the latter allows them not only to get a considerable knowledge content but also to establish a link between speech and writing yourself. Blamires notes that human beings make sense of the world surrounding them via abstract mental structures called the schemata which represents their knowledge of things, events and situations. Blamires also underlines the fact that some difficulties can be encountered when reading or texts writing yourself in a non-native language because of the culture-specific nature of schemata.
There are 6 main types of cognitive processes:
- Higher Reasoning.
Writing Yourself is a Problem-Solving Process
As a complex skill, writing yourself involves the consideration of various variables: the linguistics knowledge and writing yourself techniques need to be combined with the awareness of subject, purpose and audience. Silva points out that “writing is basically a matter of arrangement, of fitting sentences and paragraphs into prescribed patterns. Learning to write then, involves becoming skilled in identifying, internalizing, and executing these patterns” Thus, a skillful writer would take these elements into account and think of appropriate strategies that would fit the writing yourself purposes. Additionally, Kern believes that writing is an active process requiring active thinking and problem solving. That is the writer has to make a connection between the schemata and the new elements to create new knowledge structures. Yet, this creativity would not take place unless cultural knowledge of the society addressed is acquired.
Writing Yourself is a Social Process
Writing yourself as a process occurs within a context that dictates which particular process to be followed the writer. In fact, there are different steps to follow to write a meaningful piece of work. These stages namely planning, drafting and revising are common stages that each individual goes through, yet this cycle is flexible. That is depending on the context, “writers are immersed, they may decide what steps to take or follow in a particular process, so they may begin to revise at the moment they think about what to do, and some others immediately draft their ideas as they are generating them”. Another aspect that should be considered when involved in the writing yourself process is the feelings that the students may experience as they are writing yourself. For instance, the demands placed upon students in terms of genres and their conventions, the time attributed to the task, and the number of words limit may affect their written production. The worries and anxiety that they may experience make them write in a different way than when they are at ease. Thus, it can be said that practices of writing yourself are social processes because they derive from the circumstances surrounding the writer.
Importance of Writing Yourself
Though writing yourself represents a crucial skill for learning any language and constitutes an important means in communication, the place that is attributed to it in our daily life reflects that it is neglected. This idea has been emphasised by lot of researchers. For instance, Allen underlined this aspect on the ground of statistical calculations. According to him, “the largest portion (40%) of our daily communication is devoted to listening, with thirty five (35%) being dedicated to speaking, sixteen (16%) is devoted to reading and only nine (09%) is occupied by writing”. Therefore, raising learners’ awareness about the importance of this skill in the process of learning the target language requires to be emphasized. In fact, writing yourself is essential in your lives as it brings many advantages.
According to Chappell, writing yourself helps to express one’s personality; fosters communication and develops thinking. Besides, Klimova puts stress on the benefits that can be retrieved from writing. According to her, writing as a productive skill helps to “make logical and persuasive arguments, give a person a chance to later reflect on his/her ideas and re-evaluate them, provide and receive feedback and prepare for school and employment”. Additionally, Walsh stresses the importance of writing yourself as it is extensively needed in academic and professional communities. In fact, the majority of the communications taking part in our daily life or professional one is realised via writing. The use of this important skill can be witnessed in various instances such as writing yourself the proposals, memos, reports, applications, e-mails and many other examples where written messages are required. Thus, if learners do not know how to express their ideas clearly with their professors and peers, they will fail later in communicating with their employers and colleagues as the message that needs to be transmitted will not reach its audience properly.
Difficulties attached with Writing Yourself
writing yourself as a skill reflects the learner’s mastery of language and ability to express his ideas in a correct and coherent way. Since it is a challenging task, EFL learners encounter several obstacles namely grammar, vocabulary, interference and other factors when engaged in the process of writing yourself. As concerns grammar, Harmer gave a detailed definition in which he referred to grammar as “the description of the ways in which words can change their forms and can be combined into sentences in that language”. Students who lack knowledge about the rules of the target language will face difficulties in writing yourself correct texts and coherent ones. Grammar rules mostly incorporate different standards that learners must have control on such as tenses, prepositions, adverbs. Therefore, considering this important element of language use is necessary.
Regarding the use of vocabulary is regarded as one of the main hurdles facing EFL learners. While writing yourself, the choice of the appropriate words fitting the ideas they want to express becomes a real challenge that needs to be faced. In fact, in their process of learning, they meet plenty of words. Some of them are common to them which they use without any problem while others constitute a challenge as they are new words that they ignore their meanings or ambiguous ones that their essence is still unclear. In this context, Seely lists significant components in vocabulary issues namely active, passive, new and ambiguous. The first one is linked words that are commonly used by learners in their writing yourself task. The second type refers to words understood by the learners but not used in writing yourself. The third item concerns words that have never been dealt with; and the last type of vocabulary is related to the linguistic items which were seen before, but their meaning is ambiguous.
With regard to spelling, Yakhontova claims that “English spelling is rather difficult and irregular”. She adds, “In academic writing, spelling should always be consistent, either American or British throughout”. In this regard, proof reading is essential for academic writing yourself, which is based on finishing a piece of writing yourself, reading it, detecting mistakes and adjusting them. This procedure will be simpler given that the writer checks the spelling while processing the texts.
With reference to punctuation, the latter is considered as an additional challenge to the writer who is compelled to master its rules. It plays a great role in attributing meaning to the written text. That is, any use of punctuation marks in the wrong place will lead to changing the meaning of the transmitted message, hence misleading the reader. This idea has been underlined by Seely who claims that “the person who has learned how to use commas has learned how to write”. Thus, knowing where and how to punctuate means that the writer understands his/her ideas and is able to transform them into a written product.
The last obstacle that may face EFL writers is first language interference. It is perhaps the most difficult issue that can hinder students’ writing. Indeed, this issue arises when the learner tries to apply their knowledge from their native language to the foreign one which results in the deviation of the intended meaning. This phenomenon is unavoidable as it is linked with the way the target language is learnt and the extent to which the writer is knowledgeable about the target culture. Besides, translating an idea from the mother language to the target one will alter the whole meaning of the message while writing yourself. Unfortunately, such interference often leads to inaccuracy and ambiguity of the written texts.
Two Common types of errors related to First Language Interface are:
- Transfer of Rule Errors: Occurs when writer apply knowledge of their native language to the second language when they do not have a native-level command of a language.
- Redundancy Reduction: Occurs when unnecessary item is added or necessary item is removed due to ignorance
Writing yourself represents a crucial skill for learning any language. It involves the ability to transmit and receive information, develop and support a point of view, and underline other facets of the outside world in terms of culture and beliefs. Its complex nature makes it a challenging affair for both the learners and the teachers. It requires the learners to be guided and assisted in their efforts to reach success. Besides, the teachers are expected to furnish the appropriate measures to achieve the teaching goals. Thus, in this piece of work, we tried to highlight the importance of the writing yourself skill and how it can be promoted via the implementation of reading literary texts in the language classroom.