Proposing a Socioculturally-informed Syllabus to Teach Paragraph Writing for Iranian Undergraduate EFL learners: Materials, Methods and Assessment

Document Type: Research Paper


1 English Language Teaching Group, Hormozgan University

2 Department of Foreign Language and Linguistics, Shiraz University


Due to the importance of humanistic and learner-centered views of language teaching, many instructors and curriculum planners are sensitive of the learners’ needs in creating tailor-made instructional programs and designing effective syllabus for their courses. Accordingly, the present study used a needs analysis procedure to inspect a group of Iranian undergraduate EFL learners’ problems and needs in writing. In fact, the primary stakeholders’ (i.e., 58 learners and 3 writing instructors) views regarding the students’ difficulties in writing and their expectations and suggestions regarding the roles and effects of the writing course, instructors and the materials on resolving their problems and, thus, improving their writing ability were explored by using two sets of open-ended surveys. Subsequently, in light of the findings of the study a socioculturally-informed syllabus, which can guide the selection of materials, teaching methods and assessment techniques in a writing course, was proposed and elaborated upon. Insights provided by the present study can be useful for writing teachers, researchers, and possibly syllabus designers and curriculum planners, to design an appropriate and accountable writing course for their learners to identify and resolve their problems and, thus, enhance their writing quality.


Article Title [Persian]

پیشنهاد یک برنامه درسی براساس نظریه فرهنگی و اجتماعی برای تدریس نگارش برای دانشجویان ایرانی رشته زبان انگلیسی: مواد درسی، روش های تدریس و تکنیک های ارزیابی

Authors [Persian]

  • امید ملاحی 1
  • محبوبه سعادت 2
Abstract [Persian]

به خاطر اهمیت دیدگاه های انسان گرایانه و فراگیر-محور در آموزش زبان، مدرسان و برنامه ریزان درسی بسیاری نسبت به نیازهای فراگیران حساس شده اند و درصدد ساخت برنامه های درسی مناسب و موثر برای دوره های آموزشی خود بوده اند. برهمین اساس، تحقیق کنونی از رویکرد تحلیل نیازها استفاده نمود تا به ارزیابی مشکلات و نیازهای گروهی از فراگیران رشته زبان انگلیسی در درس نگارش بپردازد. درحقیقت، دیدگاه های 58 فراگیر و سه مدرس درس نگارش درباره مشکلات، انتظارات و پیشنهادهای آنها درباره نقش و تأثیرات دوره های آموزشی، مدرسان و مواد درسی روی حل مشکلات فراگیران و تقویت مهارت نگارش آنها با استفاده از دو مجموعه پرسشنامه باز مورد ارزیابی قرار گرفت. سپس با اساس یافته های بدست آمده یک برنامه درسی بر اساس اصول نظریه فرهنگی و اجتماعی پیشنهاد شد که می تواند به انتخاب مواد درسی، روشهای تدریس و تکنیک های ارزیابی کمک کند. بینش های بدست آمده از مطالعه کنونی می تواند برای مدرسان درس نگارش، محققان و برنامه ریزان درسی مناسب باشد تا به تدوین دوره های مناسب درسی بپردازند و با شناسایی و حل مشکلات فراگیران کیفیت نگارش آنها را ارتقاد دهند.

Keywords [Persian]

  • نگارش انگلیسی
  • تحلیل نیازها
  • نظریه فرهنگی-اجتماعی
  • طراحی برنامه درسی
Abdellatif, M.  M. (2007).  The factors accounting for the Egyptian EFL university students’ negative writing affect.  Essex Graduate Student Papers in Language & Linguistics, 9, 57-82.

Ahmed, A.  (2010). Students’ problems with cohesion and coherence in EFL essay writing in Egypt:  Different perspectives.  Literary Information and Computer Education Journal, 1(4), 211-221.

Aljaafreh, A. &. Lantolf, J.P. (1994). Negative feedback as regulation and second language learning in the zone of proximal development. The Modern Language Journal, 78(4), 465–483.

Atai, M. R., & Mazlum, F. (2013). English language teaching curriculum in Iran: Planning and practice. The Curriculum Journal24(3), 389-411.

Bear, D., & Smith, R.  (2009). The literacy development of English learners: What do we know about each student’s literacy development?  In L. Helman (Ed.). Literacy development with English learners: Research-based instruction in grades K-6 (pp. 87-116). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Bitchener, J., & Knoch, U. (2008). The value of written corrective feedback for migrant and international students. Language Teaching Research, 12(3), 409-431.

Bosher, S. (1998). The composing processes of three Southeast Asian writers at the post-secondary level: An exploratory study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 7(2), 205-241.

Brown, H. D. (2004). Language assessment: Principles and classroom practices. America: Pearson Longman.

Byrne, D. (1996). Teaching writing skills. UK: Longman Group.

Chakraverty, A., & Gautum, K. K. (2000). Dynamics of Writing. In Forum (Vol. 38, No. 3, p. n3). http://exchanges.

Chandler, J., (2003). The efficacy of various kinds of error feedback for improvement in the accuracy and fluency of L2 student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing 12, 267–296.

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage publications.

Cumming, A. (1989). Writing expertise and second-language proficiency. Language Learning, 39(1), 81-141.

Dastjerdi, V.  H., & Samian, H.  S. (2011).  Quality of Iranian EFL learners' argumentative essays: Cohesive devices in focus. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 2(2), 65-76.

Elbow, P. (1990). Forward: About Personal Expressive Academic Writing. Pre-Text: A Journal of Rhetorical Theory11, 7-20.

Ferris, D. R. (2002). Treatment of error in second language student writing. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.

Ferris, D., & Roberts, B.  (2001). Error feedback in L2 writing classes:  How explicit does it need to be? Journal of Second Language Writing, 10(3), 161-184.

Flower, L., & Hayes, J. R. (1981). A cognitive process theory of writing. College Composition and Communication, 32, 365-387.

Fujioka, M. (2014). L2 student-U.S. professor interactions through disciplinary writing assignments: An activity theory perspective. Journal of Second Language Writing, 25, 40-58.

Grabe, W., & Kaplan, R. B. (1996). Theory and practice of writing. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Guerrettaz, A. M., & Johnston, B. (2013). Materials in the classroom ecology. The Modern Language Journal97(3), 779-796.

Harris, K. R., Graham, S., Mason, L. H., & Friedlander, B. (2008). POWERFUL Writing strategies for all students. Baltimore, MD: Brookes.

Hammad, E. A. (2014). Palestinian university students’ problems with EFL essay writing in an instructional setting. In Teaching EFL writing in the 21st century Arab world (pp. 99-124). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Hyland, K. (2003). Second language writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ivanič, R. (2004). Discourses of writing and learning to write. Language and Education, 18(3), 220–245.

Johnson, B., & Christensen, L. (2008). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches. Sage Publication.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (1994). The postmethod condition: (E)merging strategies for second/foreign language teaching. TESOL Quarterly28(1), 27-48.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (2006). Understanding language teaching: From method to postmethod. Routledge.

Lantolf, J. P. (2004). Sociocultural theory and second and foreign language learning: An overview of sociocultural theory. In K. V. Esch & O. S. John (Eds.), New insights into foreign language learning and teaching (pp. 13-34). Frankfurt, Germany: Per Lang Verlag.

Lantolf, J. P. & Thorne, S. L. (2006). Sociocultural theory and the genesis of second language development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lantolf, J. P., & Poehner, M. E. (2011). Dynamic assessment in the classroom: Vygotskian Praxis for second language development. Language Teaching Research, 15(1), 11-33.

Lee, I. (2003). L2 writing teachers’ perspectives, practices and problems regarding error feedback. Assessing Writing, 8, 216–237.

Lee, I. (2014). Revisiting teacher feedback in EFL writing from sociocultural perspectives. TESOL Quarterly, 48(1), 201-213.

Lei, X. (2008). Exploring a sociocultural approach to writing strategy research: Mediated actions in writing activities. Journal of Second Language Writing, 17(4), 217-236.

Lei, X. (2009). Understanding writing strategy use from a sociocultural perspective: a multiple-case study of Chinese EFL learners of different writing abilities. Unpublished doctoral thesis, TheUniversity of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

Lei, X. (2016). Understanding writing strategy use from a sociocultural perspective: The case of skilled and less skilled writers. System60, 105-116.

Mak, P., & Lee, I. (2014). Implementing assessment for learning in L2 writing: An activity theory perspective. System, 47, 73-87.

Matsuda, P. K. (2003). Process and post-process: A discursive history. Journal of Second Language Writing, 12(1), 65–83.

Matsuda, P. K., Ortmeier-Hooper, C., & Matsuda, A. (2009). The expansion of second language writing. Sage handbook of writing development, 457-471.

Mayring, P. (2004). Qualitative content analysis. A Companion to Qualitative Research1, 159-176.

McDonough, J., & Shaw, C. (2003). Materials and Methods in ELT. John Wiley & Sons.

Mojica, L. A. (2010). An Investigation on self-reported writing problems and actual writing deficiencies of EFL learners in the beginners' level. TESOL Journal2, 24-38.

Mourtaga, K. R. (2010). Poor writing in English: A case of the Palestinian EFL learners in the Gaza Strip. Gaza: Alquds Open University.

Mu, C., & Carrington, S. B. (2007). An investigation of three Chinese students' English writing strategies. Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language-EJ11(1), 1-23.

Myles, J. (2002). Second language writing and research: The writing process and error analysis in student texts. TESL-EJ, 6(2), 1-20.

Nassaji, H., & Swain, M. (2000). A Vygotskian perspective on corrective feedback in L2: The effect of random versus negotiated help on the learning of English articles. Language Awareness9(1), 34-51.

Nunan, D. (1990). Using learner data in curriculum development. English for Specific Purposes, 9, 17-32.

Nystrand, M. (2006). The social and historical context for writing research. Handbook of writing research, 11-27.

Oxford, R. L., Rubin, J., Chamot, A. U., Schramm, K., Lavine, R., Gunning, P., et al. (2014). The learning strategy prism: Perspectives of learning strategy experts. System, 43, 30e49.

Peterson, S. S. (2012). An analysis of discourses of writing and writing instruction in curricula across Canada. Curriculum Inquiry42(2), 260-284.

Poehner, M. E. (2009). Group dynamic assessment: Mediation for the L2 classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 43 (3), 471-491.

Poehner, M. E., & Lantolf, J. P. (2005). Dynamic assessment in the language classroom. Language Teaching Research, 9 (3), 1–33.

Pour-Mohammadi, M., Abidin, M. J. Z., & Fong, C. L. (2012). The effect of process writing practice on the writing quality of form one students: A case study. Asian Social Science8(3), 88-99.

Prior, P. (2006). A sociocultural theory of writing. In C. A. MacArthur, S. Graham & J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of writing research (pp. 54-66). NY: The Guilford Press.

Rahimi, M., Kushki, A., & Nassaji, H. (2015). Diagnostic and developmental potentials of dynamic assessment for L2 writing. Language and Sociocultural Theory, 2(2), 185-208.

Raimes, A. (1987). Language proficiency, writing ability, and composing strategies: A study of ESL college student writers. Language Learning, 37, 439-469.

Riazi, M., Shi, L., & Haggerty, J. (2018). Analysis of the empirical research in the journal of second language writing at its 25th year (1992–2016). Journal of Second Language Writing41, 41-54.

Richards, J. C. (2001). Curriculum development in language teaching. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Richards, J. C. (2013). Curriculum approaches in language teaching: Forward, central, and backward design. RELC Journal44(1), 5-33.

Roca de Larios, J., Manchón, R., Murphy, L., & Marín, J. (2008). The foreign language writer's strategic behavior in the allocation of time to writing processes. Journal of Second Language Writing, 17(1), 30-47.

Sasaki, M. (2007). Effects of study-abroad experiences on EFL writers: A multiple data analysis. The Modern Language Journal, 91(iv), 602-620.

Scane, J., Guy, A. M., & Wenstrom, L. (1991). Think. Write, Share: Process writing for adult ESL and basic Education Students, The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto.

Scholes, R., & Comley, N.  R. (1989). The practice of writing.  New York, NY: Martin's Press.

Silva, T. (1990). Second language composition instruction: Developments, issues, and directions in ESL. Second language writing: Research insights for the classroom, 11-23.

Shrestha, P., & Coffin, C. (2012). Dynamic assessment, tutor mediation and academic writing development. Assessing Writing17(1), 55-70.

Stapa, S., & Abdul Majid, A. (2006). The use of first language in limited English proficiency classes: Good, bad, or ugly. Journal e-Bangi, 1(1),1-12.

Sternberg, R. J., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2002). Dynamic testing: The nature and measurement of learning potential. Cambridge university press.

Sturm, J. M., & Rankin‐Erickson, J. L. (2002). Effects of hand‐drawn and computer‐generated concept mapping on the expository writing of middle school students with learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice17(2), 124-139.

Tomlinson, B. (2010) Principles and procedures of materials development.  In N, Harwood, (ed.), Materials in ELT: Theory and Practice. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press.

Tomlinson, B. (2012). Materials development for language learning and teaching. Language Teaching45(2), 143-179.

Van Compernolle, R. A., & Williams, L. (2013). Sociocultural theory and second language pedagogy. Language Teaching Research17(3), 277-281.

Villamil, O. S., & de Guerrero, M. C. M. (1996). Peer revision in the L2 classroom: Social-cognitive activities, mediating strategies, and aspects of social behavior. Journal of Second Language Writing, 5(1), 51-75.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wei, Z., Shang, H., & Briody, P.  (2012).The  relationship  between  English writing  ability  levels  and  EFL  learners'  metacognitive  behaviors  in  the writing  process.  The International Journal of Academic Research in Progressive Education and Development, 1(4), 154-180.

Wong, A. T. Y. (2005). Writers' mental representation of the intended audience and of the rhetorical purpose for writing and the strategies that they employed when they composed. System, 33, 29-47.

Zamel, V. (1982). Writing: The process of discovering meaning. TESOL Quarterly, 10, 67-76.

Zamel, V. (1983). The composing processes of advanced ESL students: Six case studies. TESOL Quarterly, 17, 165-187.