AbstractText generation—the mental translation of ideas into language at word, sentence, and discourse levels—involves oral language abilities. However, oral language skills are rarely a target of writing interventions. We ran an intervention to improve fifth and 10th graders’ written production through the development of oral sentence generation (grammatical and syntactic) skills. One hundred and fifteen students—68 fifth graders (four classrooms) and 47 tenth graders (four classrooms)—participated in a stepped-wedge cluster-randomized controlled trial. Two fifth-grade classrooms (n = 35) and two 10th-grade classrooms (n = 20) received nine 90-min sessions (3 weeks, three sessions a week) of oral language intervention immediately after the pretest (experimental groups); the two other fifth- (n = 33) and 10th-grade classrooms (n = 27) received business-as-usual writing instruction and received a delayed oral language intervention after the posttest (waiting list group). The intervention consisted of team-based games to improve oral sentence generation and sentence reformulation skills. We assessed written sentence generation, written sentence reformulation, written text quality (macrostructure and language), and text writing fluency before (pretest) and after (posttest) the intervention and 5 weeks after the intervention (follow-up). The results showed that training on oral sentence generation skills can lead to significant gains in both sentence generation and sentence reformulation skills and text macrostructural quality. Improvement at the sentence level was, however, significant only for the younger writers (fifth graders).
Simplicity has become a generally accepted criterion of text quality. Putting forward philosophical, linguistic, social, historical and other implications while defining this term, the author points out that the past predominance of authorimposed simplicity must, in the technological future, give way to a simplicity depending on the users' needs.
The term interlanguage can be used to refer both to the object of investigation, i. e. learners’ L2 competences as instantiated in their linguistic productions, or to an approach to investigating such competences and describing such productions. In this second sense, it has major implications for both research and teaching, as it involves treating learners’ utterances as being based on separate linguistic systems, which need to be described in their own right, with no reference to other languages, including the L2. The didactic consequences of the interlanguage approach include, among other things, a different attitude towards errors, greater learners’ autonomy and a focus on linguistic experimentation and hypotheses-testing. The article reports on a project that applied these principles in some Italian primary schools. Pupils worked in groups to produce long, complex and well-organized written texts retelling a silent movie. Data collected at the beginning and end of the school year reveal that these experimental classes outperformed control classes on a number of dimensions, including group cohesion and motivation, text quality assessed with rating scales, and objective measures like text length, number of idea units, use of punctuation and cohesive devices. It is argued that interlanguage analysis and the interlanguage approach should become an integral part of teacher training in all areas of language education.
It is established that transcription skills (handwriting and spelling) constrain children’s writing. Yet, little is known about the mechanism underlying this relationship. This study examined the mediating role of bursts and pauses on the link between transcription skills and writing fluency or text quality. For that, 174 second graders did the alphabet task and wrote a story using HandSpy. Path analyses indicated that writing fluency and text quality models were excellent descriptions of the data, with 80% and 46% of explained variance, respectively. Results showed that handwriting and spelling influenced writing fluency only indirectly via burst length and short pauses duration (full mediation); and that whereas only handwriting contributed to text quality directly, both handwriting and spelling contributed to text quality indirectly, via burst length (partial mediation). These findings suggest that better transcription skills allow students to write more words without pausing, which in turn results in more fluent and better writing.
What is it that makes a text a good text? The answer to this question is of vital concern to education in writing. Evaluation of children's texts requires explicit and well-founded criteria for text quality. In this article it is argued that text structure should be considered as an important criterion for the evaluation of expository texts. Therefore, a model for the analysis of text structure is proposed. This model is based on and applied to explanations written spontaneously by 11 and 12 year old children, who were asked to explain something (e.g.: "who or what is Santa Claus?") to someone who does not know anything about the subject.
The analyis results in a hierarchichal text representation in which the links between text segments (clauses) are made explicit. This is done in terms of the hierarchical position in the text (coordinating or subordinating links) and in terms of the coherence relation that holds between the clauses (e.g. Cause-Consequence, Claim-Argument). To provide problems of subjective interpretation it is proposed to make the analysis explicit by means of an algorithmic procedure that is to be developed . The heart of this analytic procedure is that there are two grounds to connect text segments: referential continuity and a line of events.
On the basis of the analysis three types of text structure problems can be identified in children's texts: Discontinuity, incompleteness and ambiguity. All three can also be revised on the basis of the analysis. In the case of discontinuity, the information must be reorganized, in the case of incompleteness information must be added and in the case of ambiguity the relation between segments must be made explicit.
The analysis of text structure provides the basis for a criterion for text quality assessment. After all, the major goal of a writer trying to explain something to a reader is that the reader understands what the writer means. Understanding a text means constructing a coherent representation of that text. If readers have trouble in constructing such a representation, the text should be evaluated negatively. This is exactly what the analysis predicts: It is difficult to construct a coherent representation at the points in the text structure where discontinuity, incompleteness and ambiguity occur.