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Oh how the Writing has Fallen!

There is such a lack of interest in teachers TEACHING students how to WRITE... It shows... really, it does.
Today we had our second TOEFL writing class. My students were very excited because for the first time in over a month they had this sense of security that came from the idea that writing was the easiest task the TOEFL had to offer. Well, 10 minutes into the class, I could tell by the deer-in-headlight-look faces they were giving me that they had no clue whatsoever on what they had gotten themselves into.

FIRST TASK --- Topic Sentences.

They had to write a topic sentence about three general topics. (1) About their hometown. (2) About any place they would like to travel. (3) Anything they wanted.

We had already covered the part where it says that a topic sentence is the general idea of what your paragraph is going to be about. That it had to be clear and general, but not too general. I give them 10 minutes to finish the task. At the end of ten minutes, some had done the joyful sentence of:

"My city is big"


and, of course, who can deny those who...

"The city in Juarez is a city that is big, and pretty, and it has mountains, and rivers, and it rains a lot, and it has a lot of people.


After going around the tables with the "No", "Too general", "Too big," and "Are you kidding me? Seriously? Are you?!", I said, let's try again. This time, the topic was:

"A neighbor is someone who lives next door to you. What do you think are the qualities of a good neighbor?"


And this time, I said, you have ten minutes to do TWO topic sentences.

There was ye old classic:

"Neighbors are bad in my house"


and who can forget...

"I don't have neighbors, teacher."


And, of course, hats down to...

"My neibors taik drugs."


I look at them as they are looking back at me with almost-but-not-quite-tears of frustration running down their glossy, perky eyes. I reviewed the structure of the topic sentence once more. We did the exercise once more. I left them one more topic to see what they can come up with. Quite frankly, I'm expecting some sort of monster to come out of the page and bite me.


(sigh!)

Let's look at cute onigiri now, shall we?




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