By Singapore Teaching Centre, British Council

17 March 2015 - 16:46

Writing skills play an important role in communication, and the ability for one to express his thoughts and ideas with clarity and ease. This is a key asset during a student's academic life, but it doesn't just end there. Writing skills continue making an impact when students graduate and have to prepare their first cover letter and resume. When they have successfully stepped into the corporate office, they have to write daily business e-mails, draft proposals and ink contracts. Solid, professional writing skills are demanded of every successful manager. 

Make writing come as second nature. Here are some tips for Secondary students:

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What’s your status update?

Teenagers are hooked on social media like Facebook and Twitter and the ardent users among them even start their own blogs. Why not ride on the popularity of social media and use it to hone writing skills?

Teens tend to type out short messages and press ‘enter’ quickly without paying attention to spelling and grammar rules. This is where you step in and encourage them to write in universally accepted English. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to be understood and ‘followed’ by people from all over the world who might chance upon their page and become a fan?

Teens may frown at the idea of parents befriending them on social media, but don’t let that divert you from achieving your goal. Show them that you are there to support, not to snoop. Be their top commentator who also happens to be a role model for written English.

Social media invites plenty of discussions on current affairs, so it is a good platform for teens to learn to formulate their thoughts and air their perspectives in an intelligent manner. This exercise will prove beneficial in all areas of studies and will help teens to score in various subjects in school.

Edit, edit, edit

Get teens into the habit of self-editing. Good authors and journalists agree editing is an important part of the writing process. Ernest Hemmingway famously said he re-wrote A Farewell To Arms thirty-nine times until he got ‘the words right’.

Editing creates a much more refined product which teens can be proud of. Before switching to the editing mode, allow ideas to flow freely across the paper (or Word document) first. Otherwise, writing becomes a tedious task if they become their worst critics and start ‘censoring’ at every turn of phrase. Leave editing till the end.

There’s no reason they shouldn’t help to edit a letter you have drafted or think about how that muddled sign spotted on the streets could have been better paraphrased. Just keep the editing going.

Sign up for a course

Find an enrichment programme that’s suitable for your child. It could be a course designed for budding writers or one that’s designed for those who wish to brush up on their English language skills.

Teens will pick up valuable techniques that won’t have them breaking into a sweat in the exam hall. Some of the well-known techniques are visualisation, dictogloss (a classroom dictation activity where learners are required to reconstruct a short text by listening and noting down key words) and organisation.

Through such courses, teens also get to expand their knowledge by being exposed to a wider range of topics and sharing ideas with peers under the guidance of a qualified tutor. 

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Enjoyed reading this article? Also read our tips for Pre-school and Primary students.