Taroudant, Morocco – To teach writing, especially to foreign students can be difficult for teachers because it demands strategic planning and the full attention of students. To enhance the effectiveness of teaching writing, teachers have to implement ICT tools into their curricula and use them effectively in securing students’ motivation and positive interaction in addition to providing new ways to teach writing.
Nowadays, computers are not only used as a subject matter in themselves, but learners and teachers are using them in various ways to assist in teaching basic literacy skills, such as reading, writing, listening and speaking. Software and the Internet provide various types of applications and services designed to teach language to students. Online programs and Internet outlets offer students of all levels, as well as their instructors, the ability to join online discussions, lively interactions and to actively participate in the exchange of ideas. Using computers can enable a new and effective instructional environment designed for language teaching and learning.
Since the time when when computers were available to educators and students, they have been practically exploited to meet educational purposes.
Nowadays, with the technological progress, there is new writing software available for teaching purposes. Our main concern here is to shed light on some most useful and free applications that will enhance the writing habit of our students.
Even though Microsoft word is not a free application, but it is currently the most famous and “ubiquitous of word processing packages, with an estimated 300 million users worldwide at the time of writing,” According to a study done buy Dudeney and Hockly. For those who can’t afford to get Microsoft word, they may use somehow similar software like OpenOffice that can be downloaded for free from this link http://www.openoffice.org/download/ for windows users.
Another free word processing program similar to Microsoft word is AbiWord. AbidWord is suitable for a wide variety of word processing tasks, which allows multiple users to collaborate with one another on one document at the same time. The application can be downloaded for free from this link http://www.abisource.com/download/.
Now that we have mentioned some very useful word processors, let’s focus on the practical ways to make these applications at the heart of enhancing writing. With the advanced options imbued in such word processors including spelling and grammar checks and thesaurus and dictionary options, students will be motivated and develop self-awareness of their weakness in writing. With the use of spell-check, for example, students “can be more aware of errors, and provide a chance for self-correction,” according to the Dudeney and Hockly study. Self-correction is considered a crucial point in meaningful learning.
Teachers can monitor in a practical way the options they want their students to use while writing a piece of composition. If the teacher thinks that grammar checker is not needed while students are working on composition task, they can disable it easily. These word processors provide a more interactive ways of teaching writing through the ability to “share texts, produce them collaboratively and engage in peer and teacher editing,” according to the same study.
Many writing activities that were done by a pen and paper can also be performed by word-processors, yet in a more interactive and fun way that will no doubt motivate students to practice writing inside and outside classrooms.
Dudeney, G., & Hockly, N. (2007). How to teach english with tecknology (éd. 3). England: Pearson Education Limitted.