Exploring the Role of Model Essays in the IELTS Writing Test: A Feedback Tool

| September 28, 2008
Title
Exploring the Role of Model Essays in the IELTS Writing Test: A Feedback Tool
Author
Makoto Abe
University of Queensland
Abstract
A challenge for English teachers working on EAP or IELTS preparation courses is to find methods to teach essay-writing more efficiently and effectively. The purpose of this study is to explore the role of model texts (sample answers) as a source of feedback in L2 writing. Using the IELTS writing test as focus material, the study focuses on what aspects of language ESL learners may notice by comparing their original texts to model texts in order to improve their writing skills. After classifying the learners‟ noticing into four categories (lexical, form, discourse and content), the study analyses the differences in quality and quantity of noticing, depending on (1) learners‟ proficiency and (2) the type of writing tasks.
The participants in the present study were 14 Japanese ESL learners (seven advanced learners and seven intermediate learners). After completing the two tasks in the IELTS writing test (descriptive and argumentative essays), the participants were asked to think aloud as they compared the two texts, followed by an interview to ascertain their general attitude towards learning L2 writing using model texts. The data classification procedure was partly replicated from the previous relevant L2 writing studies (Swain & Lapkin, 1995; Qi & Lapkin, 2001; Hanaoka, 2007) and the results were discussed based on the recent theoretical frameworks of attention, noticing, and awareness (Schmidt, 1990, 2001). The study reveals that there is a substantial difference in the quality and quantity of learners‟ noticing according to their proficiency and the type of tasks undertaken. Several pedagogical implications for L2 writing instructors and EAP course designers are also discussed.

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Category: Thesis