Teaching writing can be more intricate in comparison with other skills. Therefore it requires more perseverance and interaction. Hairston (1982) outlines that writing is inexplicable process regardless the skills of the writer. Then how to teach writing? In all fairness, as an EAL teacher I tried to escape teaching writing, especially to lower level students. I did not even see the importance of teaching writing. Fortunately, the XXI century provides us with numerous invaluable opportunities to enhance our knowledge. One of them is Macmillan online conference, where I found many interesting teaching methods. The most interesting and weird session was about encouraging writing through yoga writing, which I would like to share with you in this post. Although I do not fancy yoga, I found the session really useful and decided to try it with my Year 6 students (aged 10-11). The results were so prodigious, that by the end of the lesson I was on top of the world with my students! If you are interested, take a deep breath…
- Take your children outside the school, you are doing yoga after all! All you need is love and blindfolds. Find a comfortable place and make a circle singing the song “Make a circle make a circle, big and round, big and round”. Standing feet shoulder width apart, students put the blindfolds on. Ask them to take a deep breath and listen to the voices surrounding them for 10 minutes. Make sure there is a sufficient amount of different noises, otherwise you will have to make them yourself. As 10 minutes pass, wake the students up, take off the blindfolds and walk towards the classroom.
- In the classroom, ask the students to write down everything they heard during that serene 10 minutes. They may even refer to L1 or use dictionaries, as they have only 10 minutes as before. You can help them with translating, encouraging and giving hints if required. The more they write, the more extensional their writing will be.
- No more fuss. The students take another deep breath and add descriptive adjectives to each noun in their list, the noises they heard. They will find the colourful worksheets with descriptive adjectives, which you have prepared ahead of the game, really useful.
- Now they write complete sentences, not realizing that they are already writing an essay. I bet if you merely asked them to write an essay about the nature surrounding the school, they would not be that enthusiastic. They will be really contented to use linking phrases (conjunctive adverbs) from the worksheets, which you have prepared long before the lesson.
- As you start to notice shining faces, ask them to give a title to their magnum opuses. Believe me they would love to do it. They can also use descriptive adjectives.
You can give them a chance to check for mistakes and pass tour de forces the next lesson. Otherwise you can check them right away, adding cheering comments to hearten them for more writings. Such writing can be conducted after teaching the new vocabulary and adjectives. It is advisable to change the location every time, so that the writings varied from each other. I took my students to the canteen and the school hall for the following lessons.
Hairston (1982) remarks the new paradigm of teaching writing which promulgates exploration, as students realize the purpose during the process without any instructions. Yoga writing seems to fit this feature best, as the teacher stands behind, watching the students discovering their capacities, which is the main purpose of any lesson.
Hairston, M. (1982). The winds of change: Thomas Kuhn and the revolution in the teaching of writing. College Composition and Communication, 33(1). 76-88.
Macmillan Education ELT. (2013). The 2013 Macmillan Online Conference. [online session recordings]. London: Macmillan Education ELT. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLbEWGLATRxw_FfS5Zb10iYq9wOkbVYEiU