Review ~ Writing from Within 1

A fine resource for those wanting to build the confidence of low-level learners working on their writing.
Reviewed for Teflnet by Margaret Bade
Writing from Within 1

Writing from Within 1

Writing from Within 1, written by Curtis Kelly and Arlen Gargagliano and published in 2011 by Cambridge University Press, is designed to be used by teachers to teach their students at high-beginner level how to generate topics and develop their ideas into one- and two-paragraph compositions. Teachers could use the book as a supplementary resource for their usual coursebook, or, indeed, as a stand-alone coursebook for a writing course for low-level learners. Writing from Within 1 prepares students for a variety of writing assignments in its clearly-formatted twelve units, each ten pages long and including a model for each writing assignment, self-reflection and optional “fun” writing activities.

Writing from Within 1 is the first in a two-level writing series by the authors on empowering students to learn the art of expository writing. The authors envisage each unit taking between three and five hours of teaching time. The twelve units are divided into three main sections and into ten parts, each with written exercises. They follow themes such as Who am I?, Party Time, Movie Review, and Advertisements. Each unit includes prewriting (Parts 1-6), writing (Part 7) and post writing (Parts 8-9) with an optional “Just for Fun” writing activity to end each unit.

The format of Writing from Within 1 helps to show writing as a process to the student. The students learn how to brainstorm with their fellow students and to critique their work. In doing so they learn how sentences are built up in a paragraph, and how each sentence conveys particular meaning to the reader. The Editing sections are especially useful for showing students different ways to combine sentences successfully with connectors. Practically every page has some coloured photo or graphic to add interest and aid comprehension for the student. The book encourages students to learn to write coherently and to engage in peer feedback, resulting in editing before the final writing assignment is completed.

The vocabulary used is based on American English, so some teachers in other parts of the world may need to expand the lexicon for some of their students to prepare adequately for the different units. Writing assignments include writing about an important place and what happened there, writing about a favourite photo, writing an email, and writing a thank-you note expressing appreciation. Each of the twelve units’ ten pages follow predictable headings: Brainstorming, Analysing a Paragraph, Working on Content, Learning about Organisation, Learning More about Organisation, Analysing a Model , Write!, Editing, Giving Feedback, and Just for Fun. Although the units are developmental, they are complete in themselves, so teachers could use them independently. There is no answer keys at the back of the student’s book for the exercises, but these are in the Teacher’s Manual.

This is a fine resource for teachers wanting to build the confidence of low-level learners learning how to write.

Reviewed by Margaret Bade for June 2012
Margaret Bade lectures in the Advanced English Programme at Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.

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