In the News: Engaging Beginning Writers

Here’s something we found online that seems like a good resource for adult education practitioners:

Aaron Kohring
Manager, EFF Project

I recently read an Education Week Teacher article, Motivating Reluctant Writers With Journals. The author, Laurie Wasserman, offers suggestions for supporting “…students who are hesitant to share their thoughts in writing.”

Although drawn from her experiences with K-12 students, I saw in her article many applications for our adult education learners. She recommends  journaling — which I have used many times with my hesitant adult education writers, as well as the use of peers/teachers as scribes for individuals with more severe writing barriers (including learning disabilities) to help get them started in the writing process. She makes several other suggestions including ‘relatable topics’ – relating writing to the real-world (or contextualized instruction).

This article also reminded me of how useful the Language Experience Approach (LEA) can be in supporting hesitant writers, as well as in providing both reading and writing practice.  All of which then (of course), leads me to wonder about your own experiences in motivating hesitant writers:

What are your experiences with journal writing? Do you have other ways in which you engage learners to start writing?

Have you used the Language Experience Approach with Adult Learners?  What tips might you share with peers about this strategy?


Have you recently found something interesting ‘in the news’? If so – let us know at

Posted on August 17, 2012, in Motivation, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I often use the language experience approach with adults, even with adults who I know can write the words, but who have a block.
    Two tips: 1) Sometimes they stop, but the story feels unfinished. Ask a question that will lead them to sum things up, such as “How do you feel about the whole thing?” or “What’s the lesson in this story?” or “Do you have some advice for someone else in this same situation?” This will provide an ending that will get a reaction from the audience.
    2) Find an audience for the story (put it on a public window or wall, make copies for other students to read, make a newsletter with stories from all the students, post it online…)

  2. Excellent advice, Kate! Thanks for sharing it!

  3. I am a picture-holic… I snip and snip and have my beginner students pick from all different kinds of situations and write what they want. I do not make corrections in their books, but always try to write a positive comment, pose a question, and be positive. In class, I will sometimes select a journal and copy out on the board what the student has written. Everyone sees the photo and we analyze the English together, reinforcing whatever level of grammar/spelling, etc. they’re proficient with.

Please share your experiences, questions, thoughts, or ideas!

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