Chapter Four: "Writing in a Second Language Across the Curriculum, An Integrated Approach" from Pauline Gibbons' text, Scaffolding Language Scaffolding Learning, provides readers with a look into an English Language Learners (ELLs) struggle with the written word. Writing is difficult for MANY students; it's a process that involves numerous steps and understandings...ranging from brainstorming, free-writing, planning, outlining, drafting, editing, revising, etc. This process requires an understanding of language structure, an author's "purpose", linguistic features, and genre (to name a few), and children who are only beginning to grasp a second language may not have even begun to understand writing in their OWN language, let a lone, a foreign one. Can you imagine?
Personally, writing was a struggle for me when I was in elementary school. I had a difficult time understanding that the way you write changes, depending on your audience, and the genre. Gibbons' chapter emphasizes the importance of understanding different genres and their features when learning to write (specifically, learning to write narratives). I agree with Gibbons. Helping students develop a meaningful understanding of genres and their features is an important part of, both the writing, AND the reading processes.
Another point Gibbons made in Chapter Four, is how intricately woven language is in an individuals' culture. An ELL student not only is unfamiliar with the language, but doubling their struggle, is the fact that this is a whole new culture for them too. There is no reference point for these children. That being said, I believe taking time for explicit instruction on genres, their cultural connections, and writing is very important in elementary school for ELLs.
Scaffolding and modeling are essential tools that we, as teachers, can utilize when attempting to help and instruct ELLs. I think it is very important that we create safe environments that allow children to learn to appreciate writing and learn to value their abilities to be good writers. When our students are able to feel proud of themselves and the work they are creating, then we are doing our job well.