n South African Journal of Higher Education - Fostering academic writing through process and task-based approaches

Volume 15, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



The writing problems of ESL learners in our institutions of higher learning are a perennial cause for concern. This article discusses how process and task-based approaches can be used to enhance the academic writing skills of the learners. It reviews the shifting paradigms in composition theory and practice, and then goes on to examine the process approach which views writing as a process, as opposed to a focus on the written product. The different writing stages that can be implemented under this approach are examined as well as the dissenting voices which are critical of the approach. The second part of the article focuses on the task-based approach which currently underpins communicative writing. Here, the notion of task-based writing is discussed, as well as the variables that determine its success, the goals, the sequencing of tasks, and the implementation processes. The author argues that while process and task-based writing currently offer the best perspectives for developing the main skills in writing, such as fluency, complexity and accuracy, the approaches should not be taken as a panacea for all students' writing problems. Teachers might do well to select or combine a variety of those strategies which foster academic writing.

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