In our lessons today, I collected the students' first drafts of their paragraphs. The basic courses wrote about an important day for them while the pre‐intermediate course wrote about the characteristics of a chosen job.
To prepare them for today's revising and editing class, I introduced them to the concepts of revising (=checking content and structure) and editing (=checking for grammar and style). I was quite surprised with the Basic (A) students grasp of grammar terminology. They had no problem using corrections symbols to edit their partner's work. Basic (B) students, however, struggled a bit with some of the activities. In next week's workshop, we'll definitely have to spend more time on these types of activities.
In both levels, students were better at identifying grammar mistakes than structural mistakes. It was especially difficult for students to identify irrelevant sentences in the model paragraphs. In Cambodian discourse, topics and controlling ideas (=main ideas) are not directly stated at the beginning of a passage. The writer will often start a piece of writing by telling a story, which has some connection to the topic and writer's . The reader often doesn't come to the topic and controlling ideas until the middle of the passage. I suspect this style of discourse has some effect on students' ability to identify irrelevant sentences in English language discourse.
As I read through the students' first draft last night, the majority of students did a fantastic job with their paragraphs. One of the main difficulties was establishing a logical connection between supporting ideas and supporting details in the body of their paragraphs. We'll definitely be focusing on this point in today's editing and revising lesson, as well as in our second writing workshop next week.
I was particularly moved by some of the drafts in the Basic course about an important day in the lives. One student wrote about the day his family moved to Siem Reap to have a chance at a better life. Another student wrote about her first day in elementary school and the effect bullying has had on her life. There was so many stories, and definitely not enough space here to recount them all.
Back to the books,
The Bayon English Academy (BEA) is an NGO school that provides underprivileged youth with quality English language education in a safe, clean environment in Siem Reap, Cambodia.