The Main Difficulties in Mastering Written Speech in a Foreign Language are Identified

Learning a foreign language is an integral part of training a competent specialist capable of high academic mobility. Teachers of the Institute of Linguistics and International Communications of South Ural State University conducted a study on the results of the All-Russian Foreign Language Contest “Prometheus”. Analysis of the students' work allowed identifying typical mistakes made by students in writing. The results will be used to adjust the teaching methodology of foreign language writing to Russian-speaking students. The results of the study were published in the International Journal of Instruction indexed by Scopus and Web of Science (Q1). 

The Foreign Language Contest "Prometheus" allowed to determine the level of proficiency in writing 

Anna Skorobogatova, a postgraduate student at the department of Life Safety, senior lecturer at the Foreign Languages ​​Department, and Irina Melikhova, senior lecturer at the Department of  Foreign Languages at the Institute of Linguistics and International Communications, conducted a study based on the results of the Foreign Languages contest “Prometheus” to evaluate students' written language skills. 

500 students from 12 universities of Russia became participants in the contest. This Contest in foreign languages for students ​​has been held at SUSU for 6 years since 2014. Since 2019, on the initiative of the head of the Department of Foreign Languages, Ph.D. Volchenkova Ksenia, the contest received the All-Russian status. One of the goals of the contest is to identify the level of all types of speech activity. The Contest is aimed 1 and 2-year full-time non-linguistic majors. Writing skills levels are based on the results of the Contest “Letter” section. The format for written test is an essay. 

“The analysis of the contestants’ written works revealed that the most difficult thing when writing an essay in a foreign language is the ability to express and argue one’s own opinion. Another problem is the grammatical arrangement of the statement and the need to formulate the problem at the beginning of the essay without repeating the statement of the assignment, but using synonyms and syntactic paraphrase. The text arrangement, namely the division of the text into paragraphs and the use of logical communication means caused complexity in more than half of the contestants. Spelling and punctuation are the highest among the 4 monitored criteria. It is necessary to reconsider the approach to teaching writing in a foreign language and improve the methodology of teaching,” Irina Melikhova, senior lecturer at the Department of Foreign Languages says. 

It is planned to develop and put into practice a complex of exercises aimed at more efficient development of communicative skills in writing a text. The new course will consist of a textbook and online course, so students will be able to master some of the material independently and do tests and tasks for self-assessment. 

Writing is the basis of business and professional communication 

Graduates of linguistic and non-linguistic majors at South Ural State University quite often continue their education abroad. To do this, a candidate should pass one of the international exams, for example, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Each exam has writing in it. When passing IELTS for an intermediate level, you need to write an essay, for an advanced level - to describe a schedule, diagrams or formulate conclusions in writing, guided by the information in the table. 

Since 2017, SUSU students have the opportunity to pass these exams, taking courses to prepare for them in 4-6 semesters. 

Professional written foreign language communication has become an integral part of the activities of any scientific institution or industrial enterprise. With the continuing importance and value of oral communication today, almost 80% of information exchange in the field of science, engineering and technology is carried out using written language both within organizations and between them. 

“Learning written language in a university training system can contribute to the development of other important skills and the process of mastering a foreign language in general. The tasks to be solved when teaching written speech include the development of speech-thinking skills and the ability to formulate a thought according to the written style, expanding knowledge and mastering the culture and intellectual ability to create written texts. Good knowledge of a foreign language and the ability to write in it becomes one of the key characteristics of a highly skilled employee,” Anna Skorobogatova explains. 

South Ural State University is a participant in Project 5-100 and is actively implementing strategic initiative 8: “The introduction of new models and technologies of education. M 8.1.3”. All the Department of Foreign Languages teachers ​​implement a system of in-depth language training for undergraduate students. The project manager is the director of the Institute of Linguistics and International Communications, Ph.D., Associate Professor Elena Yaroslavova. 


Елена Кирякова, Фото: pixabay, архив А.С. Скоробогатовой
Contact person: 
Елена Кирякова, тел.: 272-30-11
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