The Case against Writing Centres

by Albert Weideman
Department of English/Faculty of the Humanities
University of Free State, South Africa

The case for applied linguistics
Faced with the problem of bad student writing, administrators who may have little knowledge of or respect for applied linguists as professionals adopt the intuitive and quickest solution: to teach writing. And those who derive a livelihood from the teaching of writing willingly oblige. But is this the best place to start?

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The Case for Writing Centres

by Deng Xudong
Centre for English Language Communication
National University of Singapore


In institutions of higher learning, writing is prevalent in students’ academic life as it often constitutes an essential part of their academic requirements. This prevalence is probably based on the premise that writing helps promote thinking and intellectual development, sustain the knowledge learnt from a subject area, and achieve a sense of ownership for the education received (Barnett & Rosen, 1999). In post-secondary institutions in many parts of the world, the instruction of writing skills has been largely handled by writing programs of various sorts. In the context of higher education in North America (and more recently in Europe), the pedagogical movement that has been in existence since the 1970s and is still gaining currency is called Writing Across the Curriculum, the main aim of which is to promote general as well as discipline-specific learning through writing (Barnett & Blumner, 1999; Wallace & Wallace, 2006).

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Mission Possible: How to Make Writing More Meaningful and Fun for Learners

by Maria Luz Elena N. Canilao
Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines

How do you make writing a more relevant learning experience for learners? How do you make it more enjoyable for them? How do you make them fall in love with it? These are some of the questions that this paper addresses. It discusses the complex writing process and offers a creative option that will enable teachers to design more innovative activities by following a task-based language teaching framework. It illustrates how life-like tasks may empower students in the classroom and help them overcome blocks to writing and produce interesting anthologies. Through the use of authentic and imaginative communication activities, teachers can make writing more meaningful and fun for learners.

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Re-conceptualizing Homework as Independent Learning

by John Spiri
Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan

Homework has become an institutionalized aspect of schooling for students from primary school through university. The reasons given to defend assigning, encouraging or forcing students to complete homework almost exclusively refer to academic achievement as opposed to encouraging student autonomy or increasing motivation. Moreover, few studies that seek to ascertain whether homework is effective or desirable ask students to comment or evaluate its place in education. The present study describes an independent learning system (ILS) assigned to students at a science & technology university in Japan. A key feature of the system was an independent learning journal, which each student kept to record her week to week efforts in studying English from various language learning websites provided by the instructor. The ILS is designed to offer students greater autonomy, introduce CALL (computer assisted language learning), and encourage lifelong learning. A survey given to students showed that both first- and second-year students expressed a preference or strong preference for ILS over traditional homework.

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Using Wikis with Student Research Projects and Portfolios

A wiki is a powerful, free Internet tool that allows users to quickly create web pages organized into websites without special training. The web page editing screen has recognizable formatting tools. Although these tools are limited, wikis have a number of exceptional features that enhance web page creation for educational use, both individually and collaboratively.

This article begins with an introduction of some key features of Wikispaces and then looks at how wikis are implemented in the ESL classroom. Examples of student assignments such as research projects and portfolios using Wikispaces demonstrate that wikis enhance collaborative work in project-based learning, allowing students to practice critical researching and writing skills in pairs and small groups.

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