Originally, the process of writing approach was a reform to improve teaching composition among English-speaking students. The approach in composition emphasizes on the writing instead of the product. The process-oriented approach is one of the important developments in teaching English to ESL (English as a Second Language) speakers. It has enhanced the writing abilities for ESL or EFL (English as a Foreign Language) students in serious academic fields. Even though writing adds to the ‘four skills,’ many have neglected and considered it less important to other skills such as speaking.
In the 70s and 80s, the population of ENL (English as a Native Language) students began to increase in the U.S., Canada, and other English-speaking countries. Consequently, a new pedagogy for writing that emphasizes on teaching ESL students how to write English beyond language skills through process-oriented approach became imperative, and incorporated identifying the purpose of writing and a topic, outlining, reading or annotating, brainstorming, clustering, and freewriting. The following discourse focuses on the process oriented approach in ESL writing.
Learning often takes place progressively. Among ESL learners, writing can be a challenge. The learning needs of the students, therefore, ought to be addressed as per their uniqueness. Initially, the process oriented approach emanated from the process movement that focused on teaching ENL students how to write English or composition. ENL speaker had developed much confident in speaking English, which compromised the ability to put it into writing (McQuitty, 2014). Educators introduced the process-oriented approach to the ESL speakers to enhance their English-writing skills later, and influenced by the language structural view and the learning behavioral theory. Instead of providing controlled writing activities that primarily focused on discreet grammatical components, the approach engage leaners in composing and creating meaning by the language (McQuitty, 2014). The pattern-product and grammar-based approaches to English as a Second Language writing became questionable, prompting the beginning of process-oriented approach.
The approach exerted a significant influence on the instruction to ESL writing. Teachers of ESL borrowed ideas from the composition classes and textbooks on the process-oriented approach became available, providing ESL students with real experience in writing English (McQuitty, 2014). The teachers gave the learners freedom and ample time to write on their own choice of topics. Through the approach, students are encouraged to utilize the English language in exploration, to voice, to share values, beliefs, and experiences. In the classroom, teaching effective strategies in every stage of learning process in writing is an important component of the approach.
The process-oriented approach brought enormous changes in teaching English writing and fostered a new field of research and inquiry. Many factors influence ESL students when learning the English language (Graham,2006). English is an SVO (Subject Verb Object) structured language, which may differ with other foreign languages. Therefore, ESL learners should understand and adopt the English style in all its contexts, which would enhance their English writing skills (Zeng, 2005). Before the ESL students write, there need to define the content, understand the aim, form, and strategies the writing requires. These crucial factors affect the ESL mastery in English and style. The cultural and social aspects of their native languages affect their English immensely, which is primary objective of the process-oriented approach to learning English writing (Zeng, 2005).
The approach involves the invention and planning stages in the pre-writing level. Within the invention, the student is expected to understand the purpose of writing. Understanding these processes helps in the composition of the writing. Every composition has a purpose and the writer has to write in the context of the purpose (McQuitty, 2014). It is also crucial to pick the topic carefully. The topic should communicate the content of the writing precisely. It should give a vivid idea of the writer’s intention. Writing English require an arrangement that synchronizes ideas systematically (Graham, 2006). The writer should not present his or her ideas in mix up that makes it difficult for the reader to comprehend.
Lastly, before settling into writing, it is important for the writer to research on the topic to equip him or herself with the points or content required. Conducting a literature review would be appropriate for writings that are more complex especially when they involve research. This stage involves reading or annotating on the issue to have all the necessary content tools for the writing. On the planning component, the writer should brainstorm or reflect on the issue and incorporate his or her personal ideas of the matter, which are informed by studies and annotation. Then bring the ideas together, and then settle to freewriting. It is proper to recognize any borrowed ideas from external sources by proper citation and referencing.
In conclusion, the process-oriented approach has brought many changes in learning English, especially to the ESL speakers. Both cultural and social contexts of an ESL students influence their English learning abilities and the process-oriented approach make it easier. The current trends in learning English beyond the process approach, therefore, should encompass the cultural and social considerations in teaching English language. However, it should note imply abandonment or rejection of the process-oriented approach, but as a balanced and more effective approach to teaching and learning English writing. ESL instructors and educators have given attention to provide students with a systematic and planned learning experiences aimed at enhancing their problem-solving abilities to enable them attain goals at every stage of composing an English writing; hence, producing a successful product.