Teaching Argumentative
Writing to EFL Learners at
BFSU:
Our Thoughts and Experiences
Lianghao
Seis
BFSU
1. Why ?
1
2
3
The problems of EFL learners in
China
Tool motivation: the most frequently
used genre
Argumentative thinking as a common
ability shared by people from both the
Chinese and the Western cultures.
Problems with critical thinking
 Absence of critical thinking:
A survey by WTO and Foreign Language
education in China Project in 2001
31% of all subjects: graduates from foreign
languages institutes are weaker in logical
thinking, compared to Ss of other majors in
humanities;
52% of the subjects from the area of foreign
language studies hold the same idea.
 Training Vs. Education
 Language skills Vs. Thinking abilities
Problems with writing techniques:
the procedural knowledge
 Descriptive VS. procedural knowledge
reading 30% writing
(product)
(process)
 An analogy:
reading a booklet on how to ride a bicycle
VS.
ridding a bicycle
 Learners need be trained to make use of the
descriptive knowledge, such as that of discourse
analysis, in their writing practice to acquire
writing skills.
Problems with the language
coherence
&
cohesion
Collocation
denotation
&
connotation
A common human ability
1
Time Asia
comment
2
An artifact
of the
Western
culture
3
Is there
really such a
negative
impact from
our native
culture?
2. How?
What should be included in the
textbook?
How we handle the teaching?
Content
 Guidelines in the selection of
topics, texts and students’
sample papers.
 What information is included in
the Guide to Readers in each unit
and its purposes.
 What questions are asked to
facilitate the learning process?
Teaching
 Strike a balance between the
product-based approach and the
process-based approach.
A task-driven approach – Ss are
required to argue for something on
which they should do some research
before they can argue convincingly.
Procedural knowledge foregrounded
keep readers on track
mind maps
genre awareness
the Western eightlegged writing
(“洋八股”)
Thesis statement
Sub-topics
Good evidence
under the right place
Transitional lines
Conclusion
first week plan
first week-review
diet-sample
diet-feedback
Holding your
reader
Critical thinking and problem solving
ability valued: 1
 Writing not for writing’s sake
 By this course we prepare our students
to handle research and writing up
research papers or reports in their
future academic or other careers.
 “An 80-thousand-word Ph.D thesis is
done in the same way a good 800-word
argumentative paper is written.” – J.G.
Blair, Prof. at BFSU
Critical thinking and problem solving
ability valued: 2
Brain storming: choosing a debatable
topic by oneself or through
discussion and debate!
Collect and sort out evidence:
learning where to look for
information and how to identify
relevant and trustworthy info.
Logic: Consider the arrangement of
points and sub-points and the
presentation of evidence.
Writing is rewriting
feedback plays an important role
Prof. Mei's feedback
a check list for students
Writing is Revision
A clear scoring system
10 for clear thesis
10 for sufficient evidence
10 for logical arrangement of points
10 for precision of expression
10 for good prose (language,
grammar)
50 for handing in paper on time
A lead in and a wind up
An orientation for argumentative
writing: first hour in the semester
A sum up: reinforce the specific focus
of each week at the end of the twohour class
Our achievement
test results of Prof. Mei's class
Process of learning to write
argumentatively
Lianghao
Seis
BFSU
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