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Process Writing Approach in Teaching Writing Descriptive Texts: Prewriting

What is Process Writing Approach?

Cooper (2000) explains that process writing is an approach to teaching writing that allows students to take charge of their own writing and learning. Badger and White (2000) asserts that process writing approach sees writing primarily as the exercise of linguistic skills, and writing development as an unconscious process which happens when the teacher facilitates the exercise of writing skills. The process writing approach includes four steps: prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing. It enables the students to complete their writing step by step until they come to the final draft through four stages namely: prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing (Seow, 2002). As the term suggests, the teaching of writing focuses on what goes on when students write and what the teacher can do to help students get into natural writing.

Additionally, Brown (2001) says that the process of writing requires an entirely different set of competencies and is fundamentally different from speaking. He adds more that written products are often the result of thinking, drafting, and revising procedures that require specialized skill, skills that not every speaker develops naturally.

Prewriting in Teaching Descriptive Text

It deals with a set of strategies to generate ideas about a certain topic in the beginning of writing process. Berne (2009) states that prewriting is the process by which students come up with an idea of where to start. According to Christenson (2002), prewriting involves everything the student does before beginning actual task of writing, including background knowledge, generating ideas, and making plans for approaching the writing task. Getting started with a writing assignment, no matter whether the students assigns or choose the topic, can be the most challenging part of the task for Junior High School students. It can also be challenging for teachers who want the students’ experience to be positive, energizing, and constructive.

In addition, Berne (2009) mentions that no prewriting activity is useful if it does not lead quickly to writing, and so it is unproductive to demand that all students use the same strategies. Furthermore, she stated that filling out a graphic organizer, brainstorming a long list of possible topics, or talking with friends about plans for a paper can all be helpful forms of prewriting. They offer a student-centered activity that can be very beneficial for writing class, since the students freely generate ideas based on the principle of avoiding judgment one. These activities then hopefully can give a situation where the students feel free to express their ideas or thought.

Relating to teaching descriptive text, such as describing people, one of the techniques can be used in prewriting process is brainstorming. According to Oshima & Hogue (1999) there are three brainstorming techniques: listing, free-writing, and clustering. Listing is a brainstorming technique in which one thinks about a topic about a person and quickly makes a list of whatever words or phrases coming into mind. The purpose is to produce ideas as many as possible in a short time, and the goal is to find a specific focus for the topic (Oshima & Hogue, 1994).


Badger, R. and White, G. 2000. A Process Genre Approach to Teaching Writing. ELT Journal 54 (2). pp. 153-160.

Berne, J. 2009. The Writing-Rich High School Classroom. London: The Gilford Press

Brown, H. D. 2001. Teaching by Principle: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. New York: Adisson-Wesley Longman.

Christenson, T. A. 2002. Supporting Struggling Writers in the Elementary Classroom. Newark: The International Reading Association.

Cooper, J. D. 2000. Literacy: Helping Construct Meaning. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Oshima, A. and Hogue, A. 1999. Writing Academic English. Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing.

Seow, A. The Writing Process and Process Writing . In J. C. Richards & W. A. Renandya (Eds). 2002. Methodology in Language Teaching: An Anthology of Current Practice (pp. 315-320). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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  1. Pingback: Process Writing Approach in Teaching Writing Descriptive Texts: Drafting « Teaching English 4 All - May 11, 2011

  2. Pingback: Process Writing Approach in Teaching Writing Descriptive Texts: Revising « Teaching English 4 All - June 4, 2011

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