the reader, text, critical reading, reading comprehension, activities, subject matter, reading speed, pre-reading activities, writing techniques, component parts, descriptive essay, Nigerian Universities, West African Examinations Council, letter writing, essay type, sources of information, the original, sentence structure, concluding sentences, National Examinations Council, salient points, English language, Federal Ministry, National Mathematical Centre, Abuja, Unity Schools, Dr Patience Ebam, British colonialism, Nigerian state, public High Schools, Matriculation Board, Dr Isaac Eyi Ngulube, reading exercise, reading text, High School Certificate Examinations, Federal Unity Colleges, Nyesom Wike, Unity Colleges, Test of English as a foreign Language
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FOREWORD The English language
is one of the enduring legacies of British Colonial
ism over the territories now cOmprised in the Nigerian state. Its importance in the Nigerian state lies in the fact that it is the official language
of the country for the purposes of governance, court proceedings, commercial transactions or business and the language of instruction in most educational institutions in the country from kindergarten to the University. Notably, a creditlevel pass in O'level High School
Certificate Examinations is required for admission into most degree programmes in Nigerian Universities as well as in foreign English-speaking Universities that some Nigerians may wish to study. In fact, increasingly, some foreign universities additionally require Nigerian applicants to achieve a set minimum grade in the Test of English as a foreign language
(TOEFEL). Nevertheless, it is disturbing to observe in recent years the high level of failure in English language in public examinations conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), the National Examinations Council (NECO) and the JointAdmissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), particularly in public High Schools including the Federal Unity Colleges. Specifically, the Federal Ministry of Education has noted that 'a close look at students' results over the years shows that there had been a steady decline in the number of candidates who obtained five credits and above, including the English language and mathematics'. This situation is particularly 'worrisome' to the Ministry as these two key subjects are required 'for transition to higher education in the country' . It was against this backdrop that the Honourable Supervising Minister of Education, Chief (Barr.) Nyesom Wike, directed last year that a special training workshop should be held to train English Language teachers
in Federal Unity Colleges on modern English and teaching skills, among others. The key objective is to improve the performance of candidates in English language examinations. The first batch of trainees, drawn from Federal Unity Colleges located in the six geopolitical zones of the country, was trained for two weeks (29 April - 10 May, 2013) at the National Mathematical Centre, Abuja. The second batch of trainees will be drawn from other Unity Colleges which did not benefit last year and will also betrained for two weeks (6-19 July 2014), atthesamevenue. As was the case with the first batch of trainees last year, this Workbook was specially prepared by three experts who understand the present problem in the Unity Schools. The team is made up of seasoned academics, namely, Prof. Suzan Umoh of the University of Calabar, Dr Isaac Eyi Ngulube of the University of Port Harcourt, and Dr Patience Ebam who teaches English at the College of Education, Akamkpa, Cross River State, and has tremendous experience over the years in marking WAEC examinations. This Workbook reflects their expertise as well as their wealth of experience in training workshops. Hence, I commend it to all participants as an indispensable handbook in teaching the English language in their respective schools. Followed religiously, I verily believe that this Workbook would help to realize the objective of this workshop as envisioned by the Honourable Supervising Minister of Education. Professor Kaniye S.A. Ebeku LLB, LLM (LSE, London), PhD (Kent) Dean ofthe Faculty of Law University of Port-Harcourt, Nigeria
Chapter One: Vocabulary Vocabulary Appendix 1 Appendix 2 Spelling References Oracy skill Chapter Two: Elements of English Grammar Introduction Nouns Pronouns Verbs Tenses Adjectives Prepositions Clauses Sentences References Chapter Three: Teaching reading comprehension
Elucidating the concept of reading Part One Pre-reading activities Activity 1 Part Two Read and annotate Read and question Read and make note Part Three Functional writing skills Part One Part Two Brainstorming and free writing Introduction References
Susan Umoh 4 12 15 17 22 23 Patience Ebam 38 39 44 47 50 54 56 60 62 72 lsaacNgulube 74 75 75 76 78 78 79 80 82 83 84 86 88 89 92
DR. ISAAC E. NGULUBEteaching reading
Comprehension Skills O.EXORDIUM As we, in Nigeria, struggle for international intelligibility in our use of English. one area of emphasis is in the teaching of reading comprehension skills. What goes on in the classroom today in the name of teaching reading comprehension is dismal. Experts have expressed this succinctly: Poor procedural handling of reading comprehension or adherence to the old ways of teaching reading comprehension, untrained resource persons, unproductive housing of language arts under English Language studies, poor regards or values given to communication skills
and unavailability of appropriate resource materials all contribute negatively to the performance of students in reading comprehension at all levels of our educational system
. This poor performance in reading inadvertently affects performance in other subject areas as the rich gains of reading skills could not in the first instance be acquired nor could they be applied to other areas of learning as expected (Uwatt, 2013, p. 4). It is obvious that the teaching of reading comprehension in the school system evinces that English teachers
provide content but not 'how to acquire skills in handling' aspects of the reading material. The current administration is stepping in through providing workshops of this nature for teachers that will bridge this gap. Besides, teachers are ready to embrace new ideas and teaching methods
; and using them to improve their students. In this connection, all hope is not lostfor our educational system. The resource persons charged with this segment of the workshop, will ensure thorough exposition on how to handle reading comprehension; demonstration of procedures, encourage participants to carry out demos and finally carry out analyses of strengths and weaknesses during the demonstrations thus creating opportunities for corrections. We, consequently, entreat all the participants to unlearn what they knew about handling reading comprehension in order to make room for new ideas and methods. This segment is organized in three parts: the pre-reading activities, reading activities and post-reading activities. Each part has practical section embedded in it. But first, we will answer the question - what is reading? 1. ELUCIDATION OF THE CONCEPT- READING Reading experts posit that three processes are involved : Recognition of written symbols (i.e. sounds, morphemes, words, phrases, clauses and sentences). (b) Extraction of meanings from written texts. (c) Interaction with the written texts. To arrive at comprehension of any written text the reader must have the ability to recognize, extract and interact with English sounds, morphemes, words, phrases, clauses and sentences. These units are the carriers of meaning in any given text. This workshop is, therefore, designed to expose teachers to new practices in handling reading comprehension that will enable learners acquire skills in efficient and effective reading, which they in turn can correctly apply to other reading situations, including reading in other content areas. This is the welldesigned reading experience that will support and sustain the various reading needs of learners. PART ONE <3>
PRE-READING ACTIVITIES Simply put, pre-reading activities are essential activities that come before the actual reading adivities, this is designed 'to prop up the mind of the reader into the active, responsive mental and physical states in readiness for the mental exercise of processing thought forms involved in reading'. These activities 'open the gate way for the mutual and meaningful interaction between the reader and the text/author'. If properly handled, they set the right tone and pace for achievement in the task performance
. The various activities are presented below.
a. DETERMINE READ IN G PURPOSE
Do I want:
- to be informed
- to follow direction
to make associations
- to sharpen focus
to draw conclusion
- to get detail informa ion
to develop opinions
- to derive pleasure
- to make inferences
to develop personal ideas
- to remember spec· c facts, ideas or events (Uwatt, 2013, p. 5).
b. ERADICATE all bias aga·'"'s the subject matter or the author.
c.ANTICIPATE the possi le · eas be provided in the text.
i. Identify the content wor s ·
ii. Find out the meaning o: ea co
1ord and the message it conveys.
iii. Recall your perso a e e e ces for any information you already know about the
iv. Use the headings a c - ....:r'"'ead gs in the text to form questions and reflect on what the
content will likely be .
d. RECOGN IZE t es e ~:a sco rse likely to be used by the author. e. CHOOSE the reac ~gs eed at suits your purpose, subject matter and level of difficulty of text material. f. SURVEY the ex: Ge: a o erview of the text. Uwatt (2013, p. 6) agree that asking the followi ng ques+· ....s a~ .... a-e pting to provide answers to them will definitely lead to better pre-reading act ·_
Who wrote e Read the bl rb a e back of the book, check out the age, education, social status, professional backgro d, ideologies of the author (all these point to the experiences and perspectives oft e author on the subject (Uwatt, 2013, p. 5)).
Who publish the book? You find this information on the second page of the book. Information on this leads us to know the author's commitment to quality assurance
of the text.
What is the date of publication? This gives background information as to events and happenings of that time - that could have serious influence on the author, the subject matter and his writings (Uwatt, 2013, p.
6). How many editions exist? The number of editions suggests how cu rrent the information in the text is. Wh at does the title envice about the subject matter and th e author's attitude towards it? This often reveals the substance/focus of the text as well as the author's position towards the focal point. i. Establish how many variables are there in the title. ii. Establish how the variables correlate. iii. Examine the content words and the variables in the title. iv. Find out the messages and connotations that the words carry. v. Find out possible synonyms for the words. vi. Find out if the title suggests other parallel events. vii. Find out whether the title makes reference to something else. How is the textual organisation? This deals with the organization and presentation of ideas in paragraphs, their lengths and component parts. The placement of topic sentence in the paragraphs is also to be noted. It also will take into consideration the kind of sentence types commonly used by the author (Uwatt, 2013, p. 6). What visual aids are added to the text to aid comprehension? a. Items classified under visuals include charts, tables, graphs, comic arts, maps, drawings, photographs , paintings etc. b. It is also expedient to question graphic conventions like the layout, spacing, indentation, punctuations, type-face and other uses of symbols. c. Visuals in written texts equally convey clear and cohesive messages where they are properly put to use. d. Construct questions from the title of the text, headings, sub-headings and italicized words and equally attempt to answer them. They wil l give you clues to salient points/ideas in the text. e. Decide the most appropriate reading method and speed for the reading task. f. Relying on your interaction with the text so far, you may choose to skim, that is, quickly glance through a text to pick out the general thought flow or scan through the text to locate information where you are already familiar with the existence of a specific information in the text or read critically, making conscious effort to get into functional interaction with the text. a.ACTIVITY 1 Take numbers 1-5. Create groups base on your numbers. Appoint a leader and a secretary for your group then, do the following: a) Look at the title of the material in circulation, pick out the content or carrier words and explain the meaning each conveys. b) Can you predict the issues likely to be discussed in the text? c) Are there any pieces of information you have that may likely be of help during the interaction with the text? d) What do you thin k will be your reading purpose , how did you arrive at it?
e) Can you spot any visual images in the text? f) Are these visuals conveying any messages? g) What significant features do you observe about the outlay of the pages? h) What signal does this outlay send to you? This exercise should take 10 minutes. The secretary of each group will report on behalf of the group. b. DISCUSSION Share your experiences. How do you feel doing something differently? Is this practicable in the class? How about an examination situation, would it be of any help to apply this? What are the obstacles in applying this to reading comprehension? c. THE BENEFITS OF PRE-READING ACTIVITIES Uwatt (2013, p. 7) posits that pre-reading activities: Enhances/facilitates reader's self-motivation and mental alertness. Helps the reader establish and achieve functional reading goals. Helps the reader direct and control the entire reading process. Support reading performance for various purposes. Helps the reader establish purposeful judgmental attitude towards text and author. Grooms reader in becoming an independent and reflective reader. Helps reader to build and activate prior knowledge (schema) . Helps reader to approach reading text in a critical, but active frame of mind. Helps reader to find answers to questions raised about the text. d. THE BENEFITS OF SETTING READING PURPOSE Uwatt (2013, p. 7) positsthat setting reading goals: Helps the reader to get the best out of the reading exercise. Helps reader to decide why the reading exercise shou ld take place at all. Helps the reader to mobilize relevant reading strateg ies in readiness for task performance. Helps reader to be focus and alert during reading. Helps reader to carry out self-evaluation of reading task. e. HAVING AN OVERVIEW OF THE READING TEXT: Provides opportunity to establish physical contact
with the text before settling down to read it. Helps the reader to search for text clues that will reveal the meaning of the text. Helps the reader recognizing the writer's attitude about the subject and the audience. Helps reader to fine-tune the purpose, method and speed for final reading exercise. PART TWO
READING ACTIVITIES It is claimed that after the pre-reading activities, the reader is highly 'motivated and mentally aroused to carry out a reflective and functional interaction with the text'. The reader is encouraged 'to maintain the tempo and avoid all forms of distraction'. This is the critical reading stage, where the reader reflects and engages the author in a conversation; questioning the author's position, style and ideas, processing thought patterns, making associations, drawing inferences and conclusions, and developing opinions, all for the sake of gaining the meanings and understanding of the text. This process requires the reader doing the following:
CHOOSING READING SPEED Uwatt (2013, p. 7) suggests that the decision on the reading speed is very crucial to the quality of attainment of the set objective. The choice of reading speed is determined by the purpose for reading, the subject matter being treated, peripheral vision of the reader, level of difficulty of the text material as well as the familiarity of the subject matter to the reader. Reading speed focuses the reader on the task performance and achieves his/her reading purpose within a good time and reduces the chances of drifting off the task. A reader should know when to slow down and when to speed up. There is a tendency to slow down when conducting critical reading, when the text vocabulary is difficult and when the reader has little background knowledge of the subject matter. A reader should use skimming or scanning to speed up the pace of reading if reading for main purpose, if the vocabulary is simple and the reader has sufficient background experience that opens up the meaning of the text. A reader cruising at the reading speed of about 100 - 250 words per minutes, might gain about 80% comprehensions. Whereas a reader going at the speed of about 250 - 500 words per minutes, might gain 70% comprehension. It is possible to read at the speed of 500 - 800 words per minutes as and gain 60% comprehension. Readers should adjust their reading speed and technique to suit the reading purpose, level of reading difficulty of the material and the background knowledge of the reader. READAND MAKE NOTES Asiegbu (2011, p. 52) is of the opinion that reading is best done when one is alert because one will take in every detail in the text. The followings are recommended:The reader should marks points of interest and importance in the text while reading through. The reader should put down content words or questions on the margin of the text to denote the reader's reactions to ideas in the text- annotation . The reader should highlight sentences/phrases. The reader should underline sentence/phrase (Uwatt, 2013, p. 9). Of the three methods listed above, annotation is the most effective and functional way of documenting the reader's spontaneous reaction to ideas in the text; it makes reference to such reactions very easy. Highlighting and underlining methods operate on short term memory span therefore may constitute serious obstacle at the point of recall and reference. All the same, these two could be used in combination with annotation to achieve effective documentation of reaction to the text.
a. ACTIVITY 2 I
Take numbers 1-5 Create groups, appoint a leader and a secretary and do the following activities: i. Record the time you commenced read ing and the ti me you finished reading so as to ca lculate your word per minute. ii. Read the passage circulated and annotate the text. iii. State clearly what you were reacting to and the reason for such reaction. \\J . R eau \'nrnug'n \'ne \ex\ and your annotation, is there a possibility of reviewing you r reaction or not. Give reason(s). b. DISCUSS ION While reading a comprehension passage of any kind, do yo u th ink this skill will apply and wil l enhance performance? Was there any attempt to take a decision on the reading speed? Do you agree with the following conclusions from reading experts? i. An notation thrives on reflective reading where the mind is constantly processing thought patterns objectively and responding to meanings generated. ii. Annotation opens door to conversations between the author and the reader and estab lishes a level of identification between the two. iii. An notation sharpens the reader's focus concerning the fl ow of arg ument, logical reasoning, making appropriate associations and drawing valid concl usions. c. READ AND ASK QUESTion current
literature on read ing outlines the followings as good techniques. The reader is to question the text while reading; this is an indispensable part of critical reading that draws strength from reflective interaction with the text. The reader is to pose appropriate questions about the text and make an effort to answer them . The questions should border on the authenticity of info rmation, structure of the text and its substance. The reader should also make an effort to question the main thrust of the essay; that is, the general theme or story line.It is equally expedient to question the style of the author. What is the mode of discourse adopted for discussion, the support mechanisms like illustrations, examples, personal experiences and visuals? What about the author's presumption of his audience as regards their level of education?Take time to observe, question and interpret visuals which may include drawings, charts, diagrams, tables , maps, punctuations, graphs, paintings etc.Get to know what kind of information they com municate. Question and find out what kind of audience is implied in the essay; could they be children, adult, technical/professional, etc.? Read and evaluate the quality and reliabil ity of facts and opinion. Distinguish facts from opinions. Make inferences and also synthesize information; establishing associations among ideas with in the text as well as the past experiences.Read and question whether the opinions are well founded and adequately supported. Read and question the strength and weakness of arg ument in the essay.Also question the kind of generalizations and conclusions that are being made in the text.Read and attempt to detect errors in logic through the use of overgeneralization , oversimpl ification, begging the question, name calling, faulty assumption and playing to the sentiment of the audience (Uwatt, 201 3, p. 9) a. ACTIVITY 3 Maintain the same group as before . Read the passage meditatively, identify issues and ask questions.
What informed the type of question you asked? If you were a student under examination, in what ways do you think reading and questioning will help in your task performance? b. DISCUSSION Is it possible to carry out the read and question exercise in the classroom? How would you supervise this exercise in a typica l classroom of 35 students? What are the likely constraints you may encounter implementing this exercise in the class? c. NOTE TAKING AND MAKE NOTES It is expedient to document the outcome of your interaction with the text for future reference.This documentation could be quite handy for future projects , it could facilitate making references to past experiences; it could also help in refuting and advancing arg ument. It also helps in affirming new information in the reader's schema or cognitive structure. Therefore we advise that you read and make notes using extraction of facts, paraphrasing, quoting and summarizing. d. DRAWING OUT OF FACTS i. This is simply pulling out specific information about a person, place or thing. (ii) You ensure that the information are accurate and can stand the test of time and place. That is, where ever these pieces of information are taken and at any time, they will remain the truth. (iii). Note that facts in this context means dates, biographical information, steps in processing a thing etc. (iv). Here, focus on getting only the information classified facts. The style or language of the original text is never taken along. PARAPHRASING Paraphrasing is expressing what a writer has said or written in a different way. It is similar to the extraction offacts method of notes taking. But, the reader is at liberty to take in addition to the facts, ideas or other points of view. The reader also has the free hand to write at length in an attempt to reconstruct ideas. Principles guiding note taking underparaphrasing include: Keep the original information in the text but not in the author's language and style.Acknowledge the original author of the text.Avoid using more than three consecutive words from the original text.Substitute the original vocabulary, sentence structure, length and ordering of the words and ideas with your personal constructs .Re-construct meaning using your style, vocabulary and sentences. SUMMARIZING A summary of something is a short account of it, which gives the main points but not the details. Experts posit 'summarizing is a form of note taking that thrives on brevity, cohesion and coherent arrangement of the elements of information. After reading and thinking about it, the reader selects salient points/ideas and condenses the language structure for re-presentation. The original author of the text must be acknowledged. Study these time tested parameters that guides summary writing: (i). Effective footnote comment on text material and judicious use of available information. (ii). the reader's resourcefulness in recognizing, selecting and reconstructing the points <§>
briefly and accurately. (iii). you must be accurate in ordering and sequencing ideas just as they occur in the original text. (iv). the links between ideas must be consciously maintained as it exists in the original text. (v). Suppress your personal misgivings about issues; remember it is not about you, it is about issues as presented by the author. In other words, 'avoid being judgmental or bias over issues, say them as they were said in the original'. VERBATIM QUOTATION This is the lifting of an idea, language and style of an author. It is the only form of notetaking that takes all from the original author. It takes both the information and the way the information was presented and so should be used very sparingly to avoid over projection of someone else in your work. Rules that govern verbatim quotation: The original author must be acknowledged. This is done where the information is declarative and authoritative in its position on the issues of discourse.Quotations are 'taken from a text where it will be utterly suicidal to change the vocabulary and structure of the original text'.Quotation is used to achieve assertion, refutation, clarification and for the purpose of extending ideas or argument. It could also be useful when comparing and contrasting different sources of information
. ACTIVITY 4 Read the passage before you and: Make comments. Identify three critical facts. Make notes and bring out one verbatim quotation. Summarize the main thrust of the argument in three sentences. DISCUSSION Take numbers 1-5 Discuss the importance of note-taking. Discuss the advantages of each type of notes What are the prospects of giving these skills to learners back in school? Could this skill be applied to reading in other content areas? PART THREE
POST READING ACTIVITIES Scholars are of the view that 'post reading activities are meant to assist a reader in affirming, synthesizing and fine-tuning the body of knowledge taken from the text'. (a). Here, the reader is required to re-think the author's ideas, view-points and style. (b). the reader has the, added advantage, and opportunity of re-examining the main points/arguments, the supporting points, illustrations, and conclusions and how each complements the other. (c). the reader, without making reference to the text, should recall from memory the salient points or issues articulated in the text. (d) . the recall is a mental exercise; but a reader is free to write down the points so generated for ease of assessment and review of performance. (e) . However, where a reader finds it difficult to recall substantial amount of ideas from the text, he/she is at liberty to scan the text for missing gaps. (f). With reference to (e) above the reader should go back to the text and survey the topic and concluding sentences of the paragraphs where the synopses ofthe message are embedded. ACTIVITY5 We have covered five passages already under the reading comprehension section, in five sentences one for each, recall the kernel points of each passage. DISCUSSION Of the five passages so far read, which of them posed the greatest recall challenge and why? Is it possible to apply the techniques acquired under this section to other areas of studies History or Mathematics? FAULTY READING HABITS Reading experts have identified a number of habits that are counterproductive as far as the reading exercise is concern. It is important we point them out here so you can avoid them and ensure that your students stay away from them like one avoiding a deadly plague. Uwatt (2013, p. 7) posits the following as faulty reading habits: Poor eye coordination for the intake of symbols (peripheral vision). Eye regression. Sub-vocalization. Tracing with finger while reading. Moving the lips and head. Rigidity in choice and application of method. Poor reading speed. Not matching speed with purpose. Limited vocabulary. Inadequate schema. Difficulty level of text. Lack of concentration PART THREE FUNCTIONAL WRITING SKILLS FOR secondary school
It is Derek Soles (2010) who clairns that writing is one of the fundamental skills of an
educated person. We are communicating, he argues, only if our reader understands the
message we are trying to send through writing.
In writing an essay, he observes 'you need to think about your topic, do some
research, formulate a plan, write a draft, revise and edit your work. You think about your
topic by cons~deringthe needs and expectations of your readers, determining your purpose,
and free writing. Successful writers take time to reflect upon, to mull, and to consider the
subject of their research. Such reflection is on-going. It occurs both before and throughout
the process of drafting and revising. It is an essential component of the writing process,
fostering as it does an understanding of your purpose in writing and of the needs and
expectations of your readers, while helping you formulate a central focus, a controlling idea,
In addition, he continues, 'you research by reading and making notes on books,
periodicals, and Internet sites most relevant to your topic. This requires you accessing
many journals and reference books online; books also are increasingly available online, but
most are stored in print form in libraries. Your research will provide information that can be
integrated into the paper to render it well developed and authoritative, you must know how
to access information, how to evaluate sources, and how to summarise information
contained within these sources'.
Furthermore, Soles posit 'you plan by jotting down main points in support of your
thesis and subordinate points in support of your main points. Planning is an essential
component of the process of writing a Research Paper
. Planning is more than constructing a
system of headings and subheadings to use before beginning your draft. It is a continuing
process. Those series of points you arrange in a system of headings and subheadings are
really only a start. The act of writing stimulates thinking, and as a result, that preliminary
outline likely will change and evolve. Planning is an essential part of the process because it
helps establish a structure for the essay'.
Next, he stresses, the importance of the draft. 'You draft by writing complete paragraphs.
Planning outlines your paper's beginning, middle, and end; drafting transforms the outline
into sentences and paragraphs. The essence of drafting is writing an effective introductory
paragraph (or paragraphs for a longer paper), a series of well-developed body paragraphs,
and an effective concluding paragraph'.
Equally vital, he says is the need to revise what you have written. 'You revise by
reconsidering the efficacy of the structure, the content, and the cohesion of your paper.
Revision is the process of making global changes to a written text, that is, a process of
reconsidering, moving, reshaping, and developing whole paragraphs and/or of altering the
entire structure of a written work. The revision process is on-going. You will revise while
you draft and while you read and reread a draft'.
Finally, he emphasizes the crucial stages of editing and citing sources. 'You edit by
reviewing and reconsidering your grammar, sentence structure, diction and punctuation.
Editing is the process of reviewing, changing, and correcting words and sentences within
text. The editing process includes checking for and correcting errors in grammar, sentence
structure, diction, spelling, punctuation, and mechanics. It is, like most components of the
writing process, on-going. It is not something you do only after drafting and revising. You will
edit while you draft as you read and reread a draft....Academic papers require research,
and research sources have to be properly acknowledged. Professors take seriously the
importance of acknowledging and citing any and all sources you use to authenticate and
develop your ideas'. From the above, writing is mode of communication that uses a specific language for the purposes of sharing thoughts, feelings, fears, opinions etc. It is expressive communication because the encoder initiates the process of giving by conceiving the idea to be shared, identifying the audience, deciding the much to be shared and in what ways and eventually giving the information. Teachers have observed that: In our school system irrespective of the level, learners face serious challenges in giving out information in the written form because they are simply given orientations on how to write essay types but inadvertently not given writing skills. This limits their area of functionality to those essay types; whereas, giving them proper induction into writing skills opens the door very wide for them to articulate, extensively employing the skills acquired. For this reason, careful handling of writing skills is pertinent. The organization of this section is simple. It is divided into three sub-headings - the pre-writing activities, the actual writing and post-writing activities. PART ONE PRE-WRITING The pre-writing phase focuses on planning; the author outlines the blue-print or the layout of the essay. He explores available resources, his own sources of knowledge and takes proper decisions about how to approach the task of writing. This preparatory stage centres on decision on the subject matter, suitable title for the subject matter, the scope and limitation of the essay, writing purpose, the audience, the choice of appropriate mode of discourse, brainstorming, critical reading, annotation and note taking. Here, the ingenuity of the author plays a strategic role, his ability to communicate is on the line because in the writing situation, the author is not only giving out message/information, he is also putting self out for public assessment and therefore the need for thorough and adequate preparation. PURPOSE The questions that must be answered are why are you doing this?What is the significance of it? Your purpose is the reason for doing a thing. It is your purpose that highlights your actions converting them from description to explanation, classification, expression of feelings, informing, entertaining, argument, persuasion, definition, comparison and contrast. These different purposes have different approaches or methods of handling the issues and ordering the ideas. It is the purpose that guides and directs the rest of the activities. In fact, the purpose of writing has such powerful and overriding influence on everything else. It orders the bearing and direction of the writer on the choice of content and the style. AUDIENCE It is the audience that receives the message/ information content. Furthermore, Uwatt (2013, p. 15) claims that the act of giving the message will be incomplete and most futile if there is no audience to receive the message. The audience establishes the essence of interaction in both verbal and written communication situations. The writer must know the audience very well right from the outset. The parameters for audience assessment and selection include - gender, age, level of education, social, cultural, religious and political backgrounds, areas of need and interest, mental disposition etc. The audience if properly identified will be interested in what you are writing. They will think and act the way you 44>
anticipated, enjoy your essay and react appropriately to it. SUBJECT MATTER The essay topic usually carries the subject matter for discussion. Even at that, the writer reserves the opportunity of moderating or re-constructing the title in order to give focus and decide the scope. The main concern of the writer is to ensure that the topic/title is in the form that encourages discussion/ argument/ comparison/ persuasion, etc. This will help the writer consider his/her role in the writing act - whether to be an instructor, informant, model or entertainer. We provide here the six musts of the writer. The writer must decide on how much of the issues must be given to the audience (scope). The writer must make effort to understand the kind of essay the topic calls for; whether argument, persuasion, classification, definition etc. The writer must know the technicalities required for the development, packaging and delivery of the message. The writer must reach out to the various sources of information, read, annotate and make notes. The writer must get information through interviews and organized observation of people, events and occurrences. Remember the adage that you cannot give what you do not have. The writer must reading widely and making notes will broaden the writer's views I perspective towards the subject matter and help take valid decisions on the content and attitude as well as the approach to the task. It will also create room for flexibility in comparing sources and handling issues. ACTIVITY 5 Take numbers 1-5, choose a leader and a secretary and carry out the following instructions. Topics for development. Using the topics given below, identify your writing purpose, audience, the mode of discourse and your attitude toward the subject matter. My experiences as an English Language Teacher in a Unity School The making of garri in my village The widowhood practices in Nigeria: we must not depart from our past. DISCUSSION Which of the essay types posed problem in carrying out the instruction? Can this problem or any other be experienced in the class and how can it be taken care of? Would the instructions given under the conduct of pre-writing skills apply to a letter writing situation, argumentative or descriptive essay? PART TWO WRITING THE DRAFT If pre-writing activities are well hand led and the writer has good grasp of writing techniques,
writing the draft would not poses any problem. A good knowledge of essay patterns' and development empowers the writer in making appropriate choice of the mode of discourse. Expert writer have put forward the following as patterns to adopt in good writing. Definition This has to do with the dexterity in explaining the rudiment or meaning of a term or concept. This will evolve round what the thing is, its component parts and its operations or functions. Narration This simply involves retelling a story the way it occurred . The narrator loans only her voice for the performance of the task; projecting what happened, how it happened, when it happened, where it happened and the key actor(s) who made it happen. It is never the place of the narrator to analyze why it happened . Description This involves the use of appropriate words or images to capture what a thing looks like, smells, feels, taste or sounds like. The basic effort of the writer is to project the form of the object of description, its size, shade(s) of colour, its taste, whether sweet, bitter or tasteless, its smell, whether sweet or poignant. The descriptive essay attempts to create images in the minds of the readers. Cause and effect This describes a situation of an analysis attempting to explain reasons for occurrences. There are always two parts to this pattern of essay. The first part works tirelessly in precipitating further actions that come as a result of the occurrence of the first part. This essay type thrives on the synergy in bringing parts together to form a whole. Classification This entails breaking items into similar component parts or categories. It draws strength from the ability to recognize differences and similarities that will be used as the unique characteristics for grouping. A lot of attention will be paid to details concerning form, shape, size, colour, functions, origin etc. Comparison and contrast This pattern extols qualities of similarity and differences. Unlike in classification where the differences and similarities were used for the purpose of putting together (grouping), this time, these attributes work in the opposite direction to put them apart, projecting each strengths and weaknesses. Process analysis Explains the mechanism of a th ing or how something is made or produced. Here the writer opens up the operational function of a system in order to give exposition on its component parts, network and functioning. Attentio n is given to the detail parts and how each of them co-exists in mutual relationship with one another for the support of the existence of the whole. Persuasion This pattern makes an effort to convince somebody about a change in opinion through the effective use of appeal to emotion/feeling of the person. <§>
Argument This thrives on the use of facts to support a premise I proposition in order to achieve a change in perspective over a thing.
Exemplification This enhances the vivid description of a thing through the use of examples and illustrations.
Before I forget, each of these has its main thrust, tone, technique and vocabulary that actually project the unique qualities of each pattern in striving to achieve the purpose for writing. In writing a good draft, a writer should keep them in mind and equally utilize these other techniques discussed below.
WR\"T\NG O\J1L '=. ==: :;· -::"' Observation re == notes, but the::_:; =- ·; writer knows--=
vriters go straight into writing after reading and making := s ch essays fall miserably short of all expectations. A competent work is only to be regretted. Therefore, he chooses a thorough,
comprehe ns e -g +h at passes through the required procedure. The first draft starts
with an outli e --::;: selects salient points of the subject matter and arranges them to
achieve the desired purpose of writing. The key points should be properly ordered withsupporting detail
s. The outline should unveil the main ideas intended for the essay,
arranged in the order of importance and as they will appear in the essay. For instance, if you
intend to draw up an outline on effective reading, the first writer's constituents may be:
COMPONENTS OF EFFECTIVE READING Conducting pre- reading activities Carrying out actual reading Observing post-reading activities (Uwatt, 2013, p. 15)
Here, the supporting details are not given.
The second writer's outline may be:
COMPONENTS OF EFFECTIVE READING Conducting pre-activities Taking decision on reading purpose Examination of title/ identification of content words Anticipation of message content/ brainstorming Preview of material, observing the following: Publication details Structure of essay Visuals Headings and sub-headings Performing actual reading
Scholars posit another type of outline - the tree method, which utilizes the visual representation
of key ideas and a few details that can easily project the intended layout, for instance:
d ec1.s.1. on o/n
~ t~f examJ1. nati"on of
ant"1c1.pa ion o
content words.. content.
preview of text s.tructu re/ vis.ua ls..
We also have the cluster method of outline presentation where the central theme or idea is given a central position and the supporting ideas cluster around it.
7eading/activities in-take of written symbols
READING SKILLS ~\ Post- reading Vocabularydevelopment Adapted from 2010 workshop Uwatt (2013, p. 19) argue 'whatever the type of outline a writer chooses, the operating ideology is for the writer to ensure that the outline has a preliminary thesis that is related to the controlling idea, and that the ideas projected are apt and strongly related to the purpose, attitude and subject matter'. With a good outline in place, the act of writing is made much easier, the draft can commence. BRAINSTORMING Brainstorming is one way of generating the needed ideas for an essay, others been interviewing, observation, researching and the use of the questionnaire. These activities come before the draft stage. These activities motivate and prepare the writer for the task ahead. The writer should start with questions that 'will bring to fore the purpose for writing, the subject matter, the audience and his role/attitude towards the issue at hand'. The writer is encourage to develop a set of questions and should start responding to these questions in writing; projecting the subject of discussion in a manner that wil l achieve his purpose, meetthe needs and interest of the audience and atthe same time assert his role as a writer. The writer is at liberty to put down virtually everything he/she knows about the subject matter. This will be done without the encumbrances of grammatical accuracy since at the spur of the moment, only the flow of ideas is required. The ordering of the ideas should also not pose serious problem as this shall be taken care of either when writing the first draft or at the review of the first draft. Where ideas are exhausted, the writer scans through the write-up just to be sure the basic ideas are captured. He can then cool off by putting away the stuff for a day or two. It is now time for the draft writing after resting a while from the brainstorming and drafting exercises. The next phase is collation of those ideas in an essay form . The first draft is always not perfect in terms of ideas coordination , mechanical accuracy and style. ~
--=s0 will be dealt with in the review and editing phases that come before the final stage.
- _r outline should be of immense help to you while writing a first draft. However,
--::;a ·our to be flexible in your adherence to the outline, especially if a stronger idea
--:;;-;es in the process of writing. You owe your audience and yourself a duty of taking a
: - :-~· aecision on what is best for the successful completion of the task.
N riting a first draft demands self-discipline that can exert control over your emotion, mind-
set, self-motivation, concentration and commitment to start and equally finish that which
was started.His expedient to concentrate on the task performance, aiming at not having too
many sessions of writing a given essay draft. One should strive to start and finish if possible
in one attempt; this will allow free flow of ideas, proper ordering of ideas and coherence in
the presentation of issues .
Where you meet any difficult part in your draft writing, skip it only to revisit it when in a
better frame of mind, zeal and ability to handle it. At times, following the given sequence in
the outline may pose difficulty in starting off, pick any comfort zone in the outline and start off.
The possibility of finding the right schema for that portion before the end of the write-up is
not totally ruled out, then, you can pick up the tempo and connect again.
Remember also that a fair knowledge of how to develop and present ideas in their
proper sequence and import is very useful here. A valuable assert to writing a draft is the
proper development of thesis in an essay. This happens to be the central point where
everything else will support and project and it also controls the ideas and their ordering.
Note that in certain situations, the thesis comes out more clearly after the writer
would have generated some cogent ideas for the topic.
Thesis appears in the introductory paragraph of an essay to establish its role of guiding the
aud ience to identify the subject of the essay.
Another technique that can facilitate good draft writing is being aware of how to order
the ideas that are generated for the purpose of writing the essay. This requires determining
the order in which the ideas should appear. This could be done in three simple ways.
The first method of ordering ideas in an essay is the chronological pattern. In this
pattern, ideas in their detail are arranged across time span. What occurred first is often
documented first. Incidentally, the story telling technique is often utilized to achieve this
pattern. This pattern is equally useful when giving details about the process of doing a thing
step by step, depicting what should come first, next and then last.
The next method is the spatial way of ordering ideas. This according to its name is
interested in highlighting the arrangement of ideas across the space; with conscious effort
to have a left to right, near to far, top to bottom or front to back coordination and presentation
The third pattern of ordering ideas in an essay is called the progressive order. This
arranges details from the least to the most important, compelling and interesting or even
surprising in nature. This pattern encourages a spectacular presentation or picture and is
most valuable for argument and persuasion.
Another technique worth elaborating on as an essential technique for good draft writing is
having a fa ir knowledge of the structure of an essay. An essay structure gives us marked
areas with unique characteristics. Essay structure is divided into three parts - the
introduction, body and conclusion.
INTRODUCTION This is a crucial part of the essay structure often seen as the interface between the reader and the information content. For this special role, the introduction has to be interesting,
attractive and thought provoking in nature such that the reader will not resist the invitation to interact. In addition to using the introduction to attract the audience, it must effectively be used in projecting the purpose for writing as well as the thesis statement.An efficient writer could spice up her introduction through the use of analogy, rhetorical question, quotation, definition, and explanation of the essay purpose etc.
Uwatt (2013, p. 21) advises that here effortshould be made towards explaining the thesis in
a paragraph, care is taken to include the topic sentence which is the overriding sentence
specially constructed to express the main idea that will be discussed in detail later. It is
really a broad statement that enunciates the writer's attitude or position to the issue under
This sentence could be either stated clearly or implied or inferred from the context.
The topic sentence is immediately followed by the supporting components of the
paragraph. This part of the paragraph gives detail explanation to support, define, clarify and
exemplify ideas generated to enhance discussion of the main matter.
Indeed, the body paragraph will fail in its basic duty if it cannot sufficiently project the
relevant details to support and advance discussion on the thesis.
The body paragraphs have to give life-support to the topic sentence. This is effectively
achieved through the use of descriptive power of the rest of the sentences which will do the
magic in unveiling the important details.
The technique could best be explained utilizing the principle of learning that
encourages learning movement from general to specifics. In addition to this movement, it is
expected that when developing the body paragraphs, the writer must ensure that the
supporting details are relevant to the earlier proposition declared by the writer.
Another salient point of note about the body paragraph is that it must be properly
organized to produce certain effects. Here, we are interested in the way the subject matter
is introduced, what kind of examples and illustrations are made available to clarify and
exemplify the main ideas and how the writer reinforces the salient points towards the end of
Just like each paragraph is expected to project and order ideas in meaningful
sequence, so does the body paragraph in developing and processing the subject matters.
There must be connections among ideas in the paragraph. This buttresses on what we call
coherence in writing.
The writer pays attention to the choice and use of transitional words or phrases to
connect or establish relationships. Words like first, next, in addition, often highlight listing of
items in the essay. Then, now, during, show time while words like if, except, unless wi ll
show relationship bordering on condition. Other words like nevertheless, however, yet will
take care of contrast. Words like finally, in conclusion and in summary, connect us to the
conclusion of the discussion . The word similarly can effectively connect the reader to
Coherence in an essay could also be achieved through the use of repetition of some
powerful content words. It is also possible to use synonyms for the purpose of achieving
coherence in writing essay.
CONCLUSION It was crucial to engage the reader's attention and interest at the beginning of the essay, it is equally justifiable to disengage the reader's mind leaving a savouring taste on his mind at
the end of the writing. You can summarize selected salient points once again but without repeating the style earlier used in giving those points. However, care should also be taken to inject emphatic effects into the expression of those points this time.
Maintaining your previous group, leadership and secretary, carry out the instructions
Using all the essay topics earlier given, choose any outline pattern
and present outlines for
Carry out the brainstorming and free writing exercises.
DISCUSSION How did the knowledge of essay pattern development contribute to the generation of ideas under outline and subsequently the brainstorming and free writing exercises? What challenges did you experience while carrying out the brainstorming and free writing exercises? What do we attribute these challenges to?
REWRITING THE DRAFT Somewhere under the discussion of the first draft, you were advised not to worry over the grammatical structure, mechanical accuracy, proper ordering of ideas etc, or even skip difficult areas posing problem to the flow in writing. This was done in anticipation of the fact that you have at least one or two more opportunities ofreviewing your work. This stage crowns the efforts of the writer as she puts finishing touches to the work, redefining and reshaping ideas, paying attention to their expressions, checking appropriateness and accuracy in the use of language, construction of sentences, tenses, use of appropriate vocabulary, spelling and punctuations as well as the ordering of the ideas. Effort is also made to remove excesses and irrelevant matters. Also ensure that in reviewing your essay, everything supports and promotes the ideals you set out in your purpose, meets the needs' assessment of your audience and projects and supports your proposition. When these are achieved, you can safely assert that you have written a good essay.
ACTIVITY2 On individual basis, write an essay on any of the topics given below. The entire processing of the writing process must be carefully followed and reflected on your paper. Topics The most traumatic experience
as a teacher. The registration process at this workshop. Nigeria: do we deserve peace?
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. USA: Delmar Publishers. Mullar, Gilbert H. (2003). The MaGraw-Hill Reader: Issues Across Disciplines. 8th Ed. Bosto Burr Ridge: McGraw Hill. Norton, Donna E. &Saunda E. Norton (2003). Language Arts Activities for Children. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River: Merill Prentice Hall
. Nuttal, Christine (1982). Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language: Practical language teaching
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: Heinemann. Shotak, Jerome (2002). Sadlier-Oxford Vocabulary Workshop. Level E. New York: Sadlier-Oxford. Skidell, Myrna B. & Sidney G. Becker (1999). The Main Idea: Reading to Learn. 2nd ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon . The Delphine Writers (2008) . Crafting Essays. Bk 3. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Company
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