Write or Die

Developing your writing skill is a very important part of learning a language. When you write something it's very important to ensure that there are no mistakes before you let anyone read it. In the planning and drafting stages though it can be much more important to get your ideas down on paper first and not to worry about accuracy.

Today's activity focuses on this drafting stage of the writing process and uses a website from Dr Wicked called 'Write or Die'.

The idea of the website is that you must keep writing. If you stop and pause too long your screen will go red and the words you have written will start to disappear until you start writing again.

This should force you to write more quickly and become a fluent writer. You will be able to correct you errors afterwards once you have your basic text. This is that way that most successful writers work in their own language.

  • First choose a subject that you would like to write about. Here are a few suggestions.
You last holiday
A sport that you enjoy
A band or singer that you like
A good film you have seen
Your family
The best day of your life
Your job or the job you would like to have

  • Before you start you might like to think of some key points that you would like to include about your topic.
  • When you are ready to start writing go to: http://lab.drwicked.com/writeordie.html
  • Set you 'Word Goal' to 300. Set the 'Grace Period' to 'Evil' and set the mode to 'Kamikaze'. There's no need to enter a time.

  • Then when you are ready click on 'Write!' You will see a field for your text. Click on it and start to write about your topic as quickly as you can. Your word count will start to appear in the bottom right hand corner.
  • As long as you keep writing the screen will stay white, but if you stop it will go red. If you stop for too long, your words will start to disappear and you will have to write them again.
  • Do your best and try to write 300 words. If this is too difficult you can lower the word goal to 200 or 150.
  • Once you have to to your word goal, click on the button that says 'Done'. You can then copy your text and start looking at and correcting the errors.
Good luck and I hope that you will soon be writing fluently. Come back tomorrow for more EFL ESL activities.

Related links for teachers:

Nik Peachey


Elena said...

Hi Nik,
The problem I see with Write or Die is that a) it might just foster typing skills, b) you can type nonsense and the system won't detect it. Of course, it'd be a killer app if the system detected and highlighted syntax/spelling errors, that's what our learners would really need. I mean there are so many apps developers could code for us, but they don't know the needs of EFL learners as we do, of course.
good work, keep it up!

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Elena,

That is a potential problem, but I kind of think anyone coming to the site to develop their learning autonomously, wouldn't really be so interested in cheating themselves in this way. Of course that's a different matter if they are being sent by their teacher. If you want something on developing accuracy within writing, then try Improve your English Typing and Punctuation as that can force correction.

The idea of this activity is more along the lines of a 'process approach to writing' and is to get students to ignore accuracy and just get the ideas out, then go back to focus on accuracy and re-editing the text later, so I'm not so bothered about the correction angle.

So much of this though is dependent on the students to actually have the motivation to follow through.

Well here's hoping.



Nik Peachey said...

Hi Elena

On your second point "there are so many apps developers could code for us, but they don't know the needs of EFL learners as we do" I absolutely agree. There are some good developers though who understand both areas (technical development and sts needs) The guys at L2 for example http://www.l2.co.uk/ who come from an ELT background. I did once start trying to develop thee technical skills to make my own apps, but have since decided that it's too long a raod and that perhaps it's better to use authentic websites rather than made for EFL ones.

Could be wrong though.



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