Education - Teachers
By: - at April 18, 2013

Peer Feedback is a Great Tool in Writing Classes

Writing as the Most Difficult Language Skill

Students Writing Language SkillsWriting is the most difficult of the four macro skills to acquire, and has always been a challenge to many students.  It demands good vocabulary, and understanding of syntax and grammar to come up with a sound composition.  Listening, speaking and reading are quite tolerable when it comes to mistakes as they emphasize conveying meaning to communication.  Writing requires logical skills to decide which words are in correct order in order for them to make sense.  To gain fluency and mastery, these skills require constant practice and patience.

For students whose first language is not English, there are a number of structures to memorize as they are different from their mother tongue.  This can cause difficulty in dealing with totally different grammar, vocabulary, syntax and meaning formation.  With this, most face problems with having to directly translate a word from their first language to the target language in writing compositions.

Effective But Still Unpopular

ESL ClassroomDespite the proven effectiveness of feedback from peers, many writing classes in ESL classrooms are not quite convinced of its usefulness.  Educational researchers claimed that with proper training and classroom procedures, peer feedback can do both students and their teachers a great service.  There is then a need to give more leeway for students to see and assess their classmates' papers.

Studies show that despite the doubts from both educators and students, feedback from class members when given under right conditions, creates an excellent opportunity for interaction and learning.  When students are trained to look at peer feedback as constructive criticism, class members will not only feel at ease with each other but it gives opportunities for faster learners to help and for beginners to develop.  Peers are known to give useful feedback when teachers are less authoritative, supportive and friendly.

Peers as Helpful Factors

Writing Help from other classroom peers

How can peers provide help?  Compared to the traditional teacherís response method, class members provide alternatives which seem less threatening to students.  Insight from peers is considered useful as the student would feel it comes from those who understand exactly what they mean to put on to paper.  This will in turn make the students become even more critical of their own writing, as they strive to see the flaws they have previously missed and were successfully pointed out by a peer.  Another good thing about this is the fact that many consider comments from fellow students as more sympathetic and less judgmental.Classroom Help From Other Peers

When given the opportunity to interact with each other, students do not only provide immediate help but become an agent of communication as they may analyze, discuss, explain, justify and even clarify information with each other.  This does not only develop writing skills, but integrates speaking and listening practice.

Peer feedback also takes place informally and quickly.  When a student has questions, help from peers is more readily at hand than assistance from a teacher.  It also gives the confused student the chance to argue and justify the choice of words or explain ideas that were intended to be conveyed in what was written.  With this, the student gets to truly feel like they own the original ideas contained in their writing.

Wrapping Points

Peer feedback in writing classes is not only beneficial to students needing assistance but helps teachers by relying on students to help one another.  Peers who review the work are not only exposed to different writing styles, but also learn from the choice of words utilized by a classmate.  Challenges in diction as well as language variations pose great challenges to a student who is learning to write in a new language.  This will help students become self-reliant, critical and effective writers who can edit and revise compositions in the absence of a teacher.





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Peer Feedback is a Great Tool in Writing Classes

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