Question: What are the benefits to ESL students of informal writing in dialogue journals?
Answer/Quote: “This paper reports the findings of an in-depth study of 12 sixth grade ESL students’ writing by comparing their written production on three teacher-assigned tasks with their writing to the teacher in their dialogue journals.” P. 142.
Quote: “The results suggest that ESL students may explore and demonstrate a more complete range of their writing abilities in ‘unassigned’ writing about self-chosen topics where there is a communicative purpose and a genuine response, than in ‘assigned’ writing about teacher-chosen topics, produced for evaluative purposes. It is argued therefore that although a variety of assigned writing tasks are essential for developing students’ expressive abilities in various types of writing, unassigned writing in which students choose their own topics and purpose may also be a necessary part of an ESL writing program.” P. 142.
Quote: “The study contributes to the ongoing discussion of the usefulness of providing opportunities for informal writing about student-chosen topics as part of an overall program for developing writing competence among limited English proficient students.” P. 143.
Quote: “Thus, unassigned writing of the sort that can occur in dialogue journals might be an important aspect of any writing program—with high- as well as low-proficiency students—as an opportunity for them to reflect on and personalize what they are learning, consider new ideas without having to worry about particular genre and structure conventions, explore the relevance of academic content for their own lives, and make connections between academic content and their own ideas.” P. 167.
Comment: Makes sense. Controls on formal assignments might restrict ESL students’ development of their written expression. RayS.
Title: “The Influence of Writing Task on ESL Students’ Written Production.” JK Peyton, et al. Research in the Teaching of English (May 1990), pp. 142-171.