Designing L2 Writing Tasks

Preliminary Decisions

Writing tasks in the foreign language classroom typically fall into one of two possible categories: writing as support skill and writing as main skill. Both are appropriate pedagogical tools, as long as both are included in the lesson plan. When designing a writing task, follow these simple steps:

  1. Make sure that your assignment is appropriate for the learners' language level.
  2. Select level-appropriate writing purpose.
  3. Decide on writing as a support skill or as a main skill.
  4. Identify sub-skills students need in order to complete the main task.
  5. Design activity set that prepares sub-skills.
  6. Guide students through pre-, during-, and post-writing activities.
Play

A discussion of the preliminary decisions for L2 writing tasks.

Duration: 02:04

Flash player not found. Play in new window.


These points are important to consider in order to design more effective writing tasks that:

  1. fulfill the pedagogical purposes of the assignment (e.g., do not say that the task practices narration when all it does is drill the past tense),
  2. reflect pedagogically sound practices (e.g., the process approach to writing, effective feedback, etc.),
  3. can be successfully completed by the students (i.e., the sub-skills that they need have been reviewed and/or learned), and
  4. have a meaningful learning outcome (e.g., help students learn something they can actually use, either to support another skill area or to communicate in plausible/authentic L2 situations).

Think about how answering these questions can impact your teaching. Then click on the pdf for more questions to consider in designing writing tasks.

Design Questions