What Writing book to choose?

Hi everyone,

I have a class of senior high school students and I’m wondering if anyone can recommend a good writing course book to use in class.

About 40-50 hours seems about the norm. Anyone with any good experiences of books they’ve used would be wonderful.

I’ve looked at a few and I’m considering:

“Write Right,”
“Composition Practice” by Cengage Learning,
“Great Sentences for Great Paragraphs,” and
“Writing for the Real World” by Roger Barnard.

My students are aiming to pass their GEPT lower intermediate (level 2) writing and need a ton of practice with different writing styles as well as common writing errors. Any usage advice or other recommendations of books people use would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Mr. Blobby

I’m not familiar with the others but I’m starting several of the Write Right books in the fall. Were you going to use the Paragraph to Essay book? I’m using that for 8th graders and the middle series I’m using for 5th/6th graders.

I’m looking at a few right now for 9-10th grade students and one for 8th grade. I’m considering Great Paragraphs (Book 2 of the series) as I’m not sure that they’re up to book 3 yet for the higher grades and the final Write Right book for the 8th grade. The latter have just passed their GEPT elementary and I was recommended the final Write Right book as a good prep book for the pre-intermediate (level 2) GEPT exam.

Have you had any prior experience with the Write Right books? How are you finding the Great Paragraphs to Essay book - is it interesting enough to keep your students occupied for the year?

I’m also looking at several reviews of the Skills for Success series (1–>4) though when I browsed through it in the bookshop it seemed to ordered by situation rather than by writing style (informative, persuasive, report writing etc.) Do you have any experience with that one?

I don’t start the book until September but it looks promising.

[quote=“MrBlobby”]

Have you had any prior experience with the Write Right books? How are you finding the Great Paragraphs to Essay book - is it interesting enough to keep your students occupied for the year?[/quote]

I took over a university freshman academic writing class half way through a semester who were using Great Sentences for Great Paragraphs. It was mind-numbingly dull. That may have been my teaching, though :laughing: . Other than that I don’t use a book when teaching writing.

Yeah, that series is just grim!

Just to clear up some confusion but Write Right has 3 series of books (3 books each) and a confusing naming system. One of the series (the most advanced) is Write Right - paragraph to essay. I’m starting book 1 this fall with our most advanced class of 8th graders. I’m using the middle series as an introduction to formal writing.

[quote=“MrBlobby”]
“Great Sentences for Great Paragraphs,” [/quote]

Do apologise. This is the one I briefly used in the past.

Whatever book you choose, you’ve got your work cut out for you: en.ttl.com.tw/about/about.aspx

@tomthorne: So the Great Paragraphs series proved boring. I see. Have you worked with any other writing books that you recommend?
@abacus: Hows the middle level (B2) Write Right working out for you? Would you recommend someone else to you that for the pre-intermediate GEPT (level 2) exam?

[quote=“MrBlobby”]@tomthorne: So the Great Paragraphs series proved boring. I see. Have you worked with any other writing books that you recommend?
[/quote]

Nope, I’m afraid I can only provide negative advice here. IMO writing is always going to be boring unless the lessons are designed to meet the interests of the students - which textbooks are unlikely to do. Even then it will still be a bit dull. In your case you have no choice as you are teaching to the GEPT. That’s tricky. When I get students to game the written parts of standardised exams I go through as many examples of model answers as I can with them. Adults have the motivation and maturity to deal with it, but it would probably be pretty mind-numbing for teenagers.

I’m not much help - sorry :blush: . Probably some kind of GEPT preparation text supplemented with stuff that interests your students would be best. Mix up the exam preparation with some more fun stuff. From what I’ve heard the GEPT preparation texts are almost as bad as the exam itself, though. For example, they are going to have to practice translating from Chinese to English avoiding direct translation, something I doubt many western writing textbooks will provide. It’s a weird exam.

I suggest Elements of Style (Strunk&White) and On Writing (Stephen King). Both are very readable, full of good advice (although Mr King rambles a bit) and not expensive. Sadly, the take-home lesson from both books is: read a lot, and write a lot. Your students might not be interested in either, in which case they should simply accept they’ll never be able to write well. :idunno:

We are using all of these books for the first time in September. Our previous writing was just giving students paper and leaving it up to the teacher to provide direction. This depends on teacher ability and new teachers won’t provide much direction. I think the middle series of books is good for classes that have 3 years of experience and are ready to start putting the sentences that they have learned into basic paragraphs. I’m using the middle level of books for 4th and 5th year classes but there writing skills are pretty poor considering how long they have been learning English.

Hi Finley and Abacus/MrBlobby, where are these books available to browse or purchase? Can you please provide a google map or web link? thanks
Write Right
Elements of Style (Strunk&White) and On Writing (Stephen King).

lttc.ntu.edu.tw/geptpractice.htm

I’m sure you’ve already done this, but make sure you’ve checked what you’re teaching to before choosing a textbook.

[quote=“Kea”]Hi Finley and Abacus/MrBlobby, where are these books available to browse or purchase? Can you please provide a google map or web link? thanks
Write Right
Elements of Style (Strunk&White) and On Writing (Stephen King).[/quote]

Caves has all 9 Write Right books and about 50 more Reading Comp, Listening Grammar and phonics books by Build and Grow. We will see how well the students like them.

Cheers Abacus, I’ll head along to check it out. Here are two others I found:
books.google.com.tw/books/about/ … edir_esc=y
eltkorea.com/books/writing/d … e=17&inc=4

Well I’ve finally bought the Write Right Intermediate book 1–>3 and I’ll give them a go. I figure we can finish each one in max 3 months since a lot of the content is very simple. The advantage of the series IMO is that it helps students review and practice a lot of the mistakes that they’re currently making. After that, I’ll be free to teach them a more advanced book which is where a lot of the other books seem to begin. Baby steps first and lots of modelling seem the right way to go. The Stephen King book mentioned above appears more suitable to advanced students than intermediate level. With that in mind, any further suggestions on writing course books after the Write Right series would be appreciated.

We have been doing the 2nd and 3rd intermediate series Write Right books in 4 classes for about 2 months. The class levels: 3rd yr (7th grade students) - 5th yr (5th and 6th grade) - 6th yr (mixed grades) - 7th yr (8th grade students). In the future I want to start doing intermediate series book 1 or book 2 (not sure where to start) as early as the end of the 2nd year. I would probably target doing 1 unit/6+weeks (8 units/book).

The good:
Interesting topics
Interesting vocabulary that isn’t dependent on knowing specific vocabulary beforehand
They provide practice for 5-6 sentence patterns that can be used to write about the topic.
They allow students to write more complex papers with real content by providing the basic form

The bad:
The practice writing becomes a bit repetitive
The practice writing and the essay writing can basically just be copied from the examples by changing nouns. I always encourage them to write 2-3 extra sentences.
It takes a awhile to go through - maybe 4 or so 30 minute class blocks - I try to avoid long periods using one type of material (especially essay writing)

Initially the students are more advanced than the writing requires but they haven’t had good formal writing instruction before and the most advanced series requires more of a technical approach to writing and I’m concerned that some of the students would just turn off or become really confused by the terms. So I chose an easier book that contains interesting topics and vocabulary that they have never had. For example the first two topics in the 2nd intermediate series books are popular foods (including Bulgogi from SK) from various countries and amusement parks. And there is still a lot of grammar that they mix up like the difference between Italy and Italian (It is from Italy - It is an Italian dish).