An alternative to getting students to write second drafts

Although I can absolutely understand the language learning value of it and IELTS and Academic Writing students sometimes ask me if they can try again, I somehow can’t get myself to ask adult students to write second drafts. It’s probably because I’d refuse to do something so tedious if I was learning a language myself, but there also seems to be something patronising about it and it isn’t an equal homework for everyone as some people will need to do little but some editing.

Something I’ve been trying instead recently is to set a second writing task in which students can use things that they’ve learnt and even whole chunks of text from their first draft. For example, my Academic Writing class were asked to write an online article entitled “How to get published in… journals”, then after feedback the last homework was writing a similar article but comparing the process, style guides etc of at least two different journals in their field. Still just an experiment, but worked okay the few times I’ve tried it so far.

Any similar ideas anyone?

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2 Responses to An alternative to getting students to write second drafts

  1. Sarah says:

    I can totally see where you’re coming from with this opinion, as it IS tedious work, but I think it really depends on the students’ ultimate goals with gaining writing skills/passing IELTS. I’ve been teaching English for 7 years and am currently in the process of finishing my master’s degree, and speaking both from my experience as a teacher and as a grad student myself, students of ALL languages need to learn that editing and revising is part of any good writing. If students are doing IELTS to become university students, this is a useful and important skill to learn, and in actuality it is something that few people actual get. The fact that our education system seems to encourage last-minute writing that is handed in by blood-shot eyed, caffeinated students who have been up writing until the last minute before something is due is actually just bad habit, and any graduate-level study will suffer as a result. (So again, it really depends on what their goal is – I have had several students recently who are wanting IELTS to pursue graduate-level studies in English). Also, in my experience, any marking that is returned to students tends to get quickly discarded so they can go on to the next piece of writing, and then I am faced with the SAME errors again because they didn’t spend any time actively reflecting on their mistakes and bad habits.

    I still like your idea of reformatting previous writing rather than rewriting, but there is a place for both in good writing skills. I’m afraid that writing IS tedious….

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