Teaching writing in the classroom: how and for what


The development of the written competence of apprentices is one of the challenges that our society must face. Writing is a key competence for learning in all areas of the curriculum and, therefore, we must consider it a transversal tool in the construction of knowledge and in the improvement of school performance.

It is not an easy task, and to achieve this competence, schools should guarantee the learning of the written language throughout the entire schooling from at least two points of view:

  • On the one hand, becoming aware that learning to write is a complex process , which requires the explicit teaching of written composition strategies , the recognition of discursive genres , the characteristics of textual properties and, of course, knowledge of the functioning of the language in which it is written.
  • On the other hand, insofar as writing is a transversal competence, promoting didactic and pedagogical coordination between the linguistic field (that is, the one that combines all the curricular languages), between this field and the other curricular areas (in the teaching of writing is reflected in the integrated treatment of languages ​​and content ), and between the different educational stages.

Writing, reading and speaking

The writing plans of the educational centers aim to holistically address this challenge. On many occasions it is overlapped with a reading plan , since reading and writing are two parallel processes, through which we develop knowledge about the world, about others and about ourselves.

But writing is also linked to orality . Multiple investigations show that oral interaction contributes to learning to write , that is, talking about what is being written helps to be aware of what is being written, of the difficulties that arise during the process and, ultimately, to verbalize, share and knowing how to mobilize the necessary strategies to overcome them.

Thus, the teaching of writing is intertwined with written comprehension and oral expression and reflects the didactic value of the integration of communication skills.

Classroom time

Now, for speaking and reading to help improve students’ written competence, we must consider, at least, two requirements: the first, to allocate time in the classroom to write and to learn to write; and, the second, to have a didactic framework so that this time is formative, that is, that it is used effectively to learn.

Regarding the first requirement, the teacher must avoid the feeling that writing in class is wasting time. On the contrary, by doing these practices, you can gather evidence that it is time well spent .

Regarding the second requirement, one of the most effective methodological tools for learning to write in the classroom is the didactic sequence , which favors the planning, implementation and evaluation of a meaningful writing project in which one learns to write a genre determined discursive .

Teaching sequences

Language didactic sequences have been developed for more than three decades (see Bronckart and Schneuwly and Camps ) and there are multiple investigations and classroom experiences that support them in all educational stages: infant , primary and secondary .

These methodological tools that the research has developed and implemented in the classrooms help to specify the objectives that the current curricular framework of compulsory education prescribes. The Royal Decree 126/2014 , establishing the core curriculum of primary education in Spain is established (and curricula of the respective display regions), states the following in reference to the teaching and learning of written competence (pp 27-28):

The teaching of writing processes aims to make the student aware of it as a structured procedure in three parts: writing planning, writing from writing drafts and reviewing drafts before writing the final text.

To progress in mastering writing techniques, it is necessary to acquire the mechanisms that allow the student to differentiate and use the different discourse genres appropriate to each context (family, personal, academic, social) in all areas of the curriculum.

The evaluation is applied not only to the final product, prepared individually or in a group, but above all to the process: it is evaluated and taught to evaluate the entire development of the written text from the productions of the students themselves.

Group review should be accepted as standard practice in these cases to promote autonomous learning.

Evaluate the process, not the result

Thus, teaching writing taking into account the three phases of the writing process (planning, textualization and revision), starting from the discursive gender construct , paying attention to the process rather than the final product and generating opportunities for interaction in the classroom so that students learn to write together to be more and more autonomous, these are premises that any teacher should take into account when proposing writing tasks in the classroom .

Author Bio: Mariona Casas Deseuras is Professor of Language Didactics. Research Group on Education, Language and Literature (GRELL) at University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia