This article examines the features of teaching letter writing in a foreign language in a process of preparation for the exam. Such training will be realized more effectively within the framework of the learner-centered approach, which takes into account the individual characteristics of the learner.
Keywords: letter writing, learner-centered approach, the CEFR test, letter structure.
Nowadays the student-centered approach to learning and teaching is becoming more common in our country. Some educators consider this approach as one of the most effective one foreign language teaching.
According to the professor and doctors of psychological sciences, I. S. Yakimanskaya, the main aspect in person-oriented the approach «is the personality of the child, his distinctive character, self-esteem " [5, p. 77]. This approach is aimed at satisfying the interests, needs of the student taking into account his individual characteristics. From Stepanov E. N.’s viewpoint, a student-centered approach is based on the following fundamental principles: self -actualization, individualisation, subjectivity, choice, creativity and success [3, p. 45].
In our opinion, in the process of second language acquisition, the principle of individualization is of upmost importance, taking into account the personal characteristics of the students. It is also worth noticing that the person-oriented approach is already held in SLA practice. This can be explained by the fact that this approach allows the teacher to use the personal project, interactive, problem-solving tasks. The student, in turn, gets the opportunity to cooperation with the teacher, which makes the teaching of the SL more effective.
In FLA process, mastery of letter writing skills is an essential component. According to the methodologists N. D. Gal'skova and N. I. Gez, the letter is a productive analytical-synthetical activity, connected with generation and fixation of written text [1, p. 247]. Letter is included in the programs of schools at all stages of education. It is assumed that a student must be able to easily express their thoughts in writing, that is, learn to use it as a communication tool.
Unfortunately, in general schools, little time is spent to letter writing. However, a learner at exam should demonstrate skills to competently arrange a written speech in a foreign language.
The CEFR test for the level of knowledge of a foreign language of the B1 format consists of 5 sections, one of which is writing. 45 minutes are allocated for 2 assignments. Task 1 — personal correspondence. Applicant should write a letter on the proposed topic and on the basis of basic questions (60–80 words / 10 points). The subject of the letter is related to the content of the daily life of the applicant, and he is offered 4 basic questions. Three of the basic questions are factual (who, what, when or where, how) and the fourth — the argumentative (why). Task 2 — writing essays from personal experience (120–140 words / 20 points).
Section «Letter» of the CEFR requires the coherent, correct, free written expression of thoughts. To achieve this, it is important to take sufficient regular training necessary for successful passage of the abovementioned exam.
For the assignment about 15–20 minutes are given. At the same time, the following requirement should be met here: the volume of the letter should be about 60–80 words. In addition, it is recommended not to deviate from themes, select synonyms, i.e. try not to use vocabulary given in the area, do not exceed the required volume.
First of all, the teacher needs to explain the structure of a personal letter that consists of a brief foot addresses (in the upper right corner), the date under it, with the main part of the letter, the farewell phrase and name. You need to start from the address that is written in reverse order of the Russian: apartment room home, street name, city country. Note that the return address in brief form is given. Let's look at the example:
Then, skipping the line, under the address the student should write down the date of the letter.
June 7th 2018
7 June 2018
Let's also assume a less formal option.
This is followed by an informal appeal. For example:
It is important to take into account a comma.
In the first paragraph, it is needed to express the gratitude to a friend for his letter. Some of the proposed cliché phrases can be used for this purpose:
Thanks (a lot) for your (last) letter.
It was great to hear from you!
I was happy to hear...
It is also appropriate to apologize for the fact that for some reasons the sender did not answer earlier, using the following phrases:
Sorry, I haven`t written for so long but...
I`m sorry, I haven`t answered earlier...
Then the student proceeds to the main part of the letter, which should consist of not less than 2–3 passages. The use of informal linking words (such as anyway, so, by the way), as the letter should be written in an informal style.
In the last paragraph, the learner explains why he ends the letter. To do this, it is possible to use the following phrases:
I`ve got to go! I must help my mother now...
Well, I`d better go as I have a lot of homework...
It is important not to forget to mention the further contacts:
Keep in touch!
Write back soon!
At the end of the letter the final phrase is indicated, after which a comma is always put. For example:
All the best,
Finally, under the final sentence it is necessary to indicate the name of the author (without a surname).
Thus, taking into account individual features of the learners the teacher should in an accessible way explain how personal letters are drawn up, what their structure is.
Often, when carrying out the tasks of first assignment, the learners experience difficulties if their lexical the stock is not rich. Therefore, an integral part of effective preparation is to expand base word stock enrolled, particularly active word stock. There are several ways to increase it: work with a dictionary, keeping a notebook where the synonyms and antonyms of the words are kept, reading literature in a foreign. The last of these methods, in our opinion, is the most effective. First, the teacher, taking into account the learner's preferences, can help to get him a book that will interest him. Secondly, there are reading aids broken down by levels complexity (Beginner, Elementary, Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate, Upper Intermediate, Advanced), which correspond to different levels of language training of students. Such, for example, are adapted series of the «British Council ".
Execution of the practice exercises of the CEFR test can aid in the development of letter writing skills. Writing exercises can be divided into two large groups: preparatory and speech exercises. The preparatory exercises are aimed at mastering the linguistic material, learning certain transactions related with a written expression of thoughts. They, first of all, include a variety of exercises with models (transformation of models, expansion of them, etc.). Second type of exercises is aimed at conveying some information (rephrasing, reduction of the text).
The system of speech exercises begins with exercise which makes the learners to remember a group of sentences, connected in meaning. This exercise is close to the self-dictation. As soon as learners master the ability to express thoughts in their own words, they learn to use the following types of exercises: narration, story, description, composition, writing letters. The narration requires a certain preparation in the classroom under the guidance of a teacher. The teacher together with students should select some needed constructions from what they heard, divide the text into semantic passages, and reveal the main content. After such preparatory work in the classroom narration can become a homework.
Thus, it is always important to take into account the specific characteristic features of the foreign language as well as the level of training of the students in FLA. The use of student-centered approach will help the teacher to find the best ways to prepare for a successful completing the tasks in the «Letter» section of the CEFR language competence test.
- Gal'skova, N.D., Gez, N. I. Theory of teaching foreign languages. Linguodidactics and methodology. Moscow: Academy, 2006. — 336 p.
- Safonova, V. V. USE 2015. English language: collection of tasks. Moscow: Eksmo, 2014. — 288 p.
- Stepanov, EN, Luzina, LM The teacher about modern approaches and concepts in upbringing. Moscow: TC Sphere, 2003. — 160 p.
- Yagudena, A. English in the USE format. Essays. Rostov n / a: Phoenix, 2015. — 89 p.
- Yakimanskaya, IS Requirements to the curriculum, oriented to the personal development of the pupils. Questions of psychology. — 1994 — No. 2, p. 65–77.