Creating a writing workshop atmosphere using computers in the English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom improves the opportunities for integrating all language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The computer also represents a new way of learning, emphasizing students' problem solving strategies and learning processes. Teachers must remain sensitive to the newness and complexity of the technical demands on the ESL student, which may compound fears about speaking and writing English. If initial word processing activities are brief, nonthreatening, and not heavily constrained by time, students are encouraged to explore the program's capabilities and to use the computer as part of their writing process, not as a glorified typewriter. Students learning word processing must balance a multitude of interrelated, subtly coordinated, and self-motivated mental and physical activities requiring trial and error. Teachers must balance instructional concerns with the teaching of word processing until students have achieved a minimum level of competency. By using word processing, students become highly engaged in writing and learning language, gain new sensitivity to the flexibility of language, appear more receptive to feedback concerning the need for revision and editing, and improve their overall writing and language ability. (JD)
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Modern Language Association (Chicago, IL, December 26-29, 1985).