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Is Writing Teachable or a Talent?

written by: Lady Lit•edited by: Trent Lorcher•updated: 4/28/2009

This article examines whether it is possible for teachers to instruct students how to write or whether writing is a natural-born talent.

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    Here Come the Complaints

    How often do students complain about having to write? It does not matter if you are referring to writing sentences, words, paragraphs, essays, etc. If students are assigned the task of writing, they also feel the need to complain before ever putting their pen to paper. Many students are extremely talkative, but they have difficulty when it comes to putting their thoughts and their words down on paper.

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    Weak Grammar Skills Equal Weak Writing Skills

    Many students feel as if their writing skills are inadequate as they may not understand the parts of a sentence or how sentences are arranged to compose a paragraph. These students often are considered “minimal,” meaning their skills are extremely low. A student with minimal skills is going to struggle in any language arts classroom, but these students with minimal English skills may be more proficient in an area that deals with quantitative data.

    Poor writing skills are a trickle-down effect that begins with a student’s inability to understand the English language as a youngster. In some cases, the problem begins before students enter school and continues throughout the student’s formative years. If a student always hears speech that contains incorrect subject-verb agreement at home, then, the student will begin writing that way.

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    Improved Grammar Results in Better Writing Skills

    Students who understand the English language will generally have more advanced writing skills as they understand how to compose a sentence and how sentences work together to form paragraphs, what active voice is, the rules that dictate usage, etc. These students appear talented or that they were born with the ability to write. The reality is these students are those who understand English grammar and mechanics, but these same students may struggle in a math or science class.

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    Writing is Teachable, Not a Talent

    All one has to do to improve his or her writing skills is to spend some time remediating the English language. If an individual spends enough time remediating his or her skills, there will be improvement in his or her writing. Now, it is important to remember that one will not improve his or her writing overnight, but as one learns the grammatical and mechanical concepts, one’s skills will improve slowly. One did not fall behind overnight, so one cannot expect to improve one’s writing skills overnight.