Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Teaching handwriting to adults

I have received the following message from site-contributor Andrew:

Dear Maggie,

I am a literacy tutor and have used your site on many occasions, as well as contributing some materials. I have a query about teaching handwriting for adults and wondered whether you might be able to post it on your comments page, as our internet security system does not allow us to access a ‘blog’.

I believe that it is helpful to teach cursive writing to learners to improve spelling ‘automaticity’, but was wondering what the current thinking on this is within the adult teaching community – is it beneficial to teach this skill at any level, or should I aim to integrate this skill at a specific level, say E2 and above? Would it be counterproductive to teach this skill at all to adult learners? I have had some good results with some learners, but obviously this may not be the case in general and I would like some guidance in this area.

I would really appreciate some insight into this one.

Best regards
I have also posted this query on the comments page. If you can help please respond either by using 'comments' on this blog (which I will forward to Andrew) or by emailing Andrew (or me) via the skillsworkshop comments page.


Maggie said...

Andrew has received an email response from site-contributor Janet who has given me permission to reproduce her email here.

Hello Andrew,
I have also been thinking about the use of cursive writing, prompted by trying to find more (and adult centred) ways of helping those with dyslexia in particular. I notice that more experienced teachers than myself seem to like a word shape method, with each letter in a separate box, although I have never really been able to see that this helped much. However, cursive writing does indeed present a word shape, but in a fluid, joined-up way, whereby the completion of one letter leads on to the formation of the next – rather than isolated letters in boxes.

I know Phil Beadle has been getting a bit of stick following his recent ‘Can’t Read, Can’t Write’ TV series, but I think the use of calligraphy to help enjoy the beauty of writing may have some merit. For someone who finds writing difficult and therefore slow, the need to form letters carefully means that they are no slower than anyone else when practicing this skill. The discipline and consistency of the letter formation may also be helpful, I think. However, by ‘calligraphy’ I don’t mean to suggest some overly florid style, but well-formed, flowing, and easy to read. My grandfather only ever wrote in a form of copperplate because in his day students were taught to have a pride in the work they produced!

I am going to try out cursive writing with adults when we all return to college and would be very interested to know how you get on too.

Incidentally, being rather aged (I came late to the joys of teaching) I was taught to use ‘joined-up writing’ in primary school. I wonder if this is still the case?

Good luck and regards,
Janet W

Thanks Janet. It's great to get some feedback and I hope your response prompts further comments.


Handwriting expert said...

That an interesting post. I never thought about this before. But, looking back at different situations, this might be right. Keep it up friend!