Fluentify is designed to help students really focus on and improve their English speaking skills. However, our goal as tutors is to foster a learning environment that encourages our students to reach their goals based on their real world needs, whether it be giving a presentation or updating a CV/ resume. For this reason, we often find ourselves in situations where our students also need help with their written English skills, but this can be challenging when interacting via video conference.
In today’s article we wanted to talk about the best way to approach writing practice during your sessions and how to ensure that your students are learning, and not just ‘accepting’ the corrections you’ve made.
Assign a writing activity
When a student tells you that he or she would like to work on some English writing practice, find out more about what kind of English writing they need (English exam essay prep, business emails, blog posts, etc.) and assign them a relevant activity. This way they are working on something specific that will help them develop the exact skills they need.
Send some guidance
Along with the activity, it’s always nice to send some writing tips before they start writing. This could be a link to business email structure, or rather some articles about common written English mistakes or the most common misspelled words, for example. Having a little bit of guidance will help them feel more confident with their writing and encourage them to write more.
TIP: Remind students to change their document language to English- it sounds silly, but this will help them with their spelling, and also give them some guidance with improper sentences that are often signaled by programs such as Microsoft Word.
Review during the session
The easiest way I’ve found to work on writing assignments is by using a shared Google Document so that both you and the student can work on it together. When correcting the document with the student, have him/her read it out loud (so that you can also do some pronunciation practice) and then you can go through it when he/she is done reading. When making corrections, it’s really important to explain WHY you are changing certain things. This way, the student is learning new grammar concepts, clarifying some doubts, and can then use these new skills in the future.
Use an app
Some writing sessions on Fluentify can be really useful for students to help them improve their written skills. But we must not forget that in the age of technology our lives continue to get easier. Recently there have been some great new apps developed that allow people to correct their English writing online. The app Ludwig is a “smart translator and linguistic search engine that helps you find the perfect word or sentence to express your ideas.” Students can use this for sentences or shorter phrases which are then compared to writing samples from the internet (articles, websites, etc.) and the app gives feedback about the best sentence construction found. The website Hemingway can be used for larger text blocks and it identifies sentences that are hard to read, phrases that have simpler alternatives, excessive adverbs, and the use of the passive voice. Both of these tools can help guide your students when they can’t ask you for help during a session.
Are there any other ways that you work on writing during Fluentify sessions? Leave a comment!