The magic of functional writing skills

Many learners complete their studies when they do not have adequate knowledge of functional writing skills. They experience difficulties in writing job application letters and other related documents. Of course they are not to blame. The challenge is that teachers of English Language focus more attention on the examinable aspects like reading comprehension, composition writing, summary writing, grammar and phonology.
A student writing her final exams. Education Times / T. Kisambira.
A student writing her final exams. Education Times / T. Kisambira.

Many learners complete their studies when they do not have adequate knowledge of functional writing skills. They experience difficulties in writing job application letters and other related documents. Of course they are not to blame. The challenge is that teachers of English Language focus more attention on the examinable aspects like reading comprehension, composition writing, summary writing, grammar and phonology.

English Language teachers should teach functional writing skills so as to prepare learners for job related writing tasks. It is important that learners leave high school when they can write a variety of formal documents. 

The world has become a global village whereby any job advertisement in the media attracts many applications and potential employers devise ways through which to eliminate some applicants. In most cases, applications that fall short of the basic information and those that are poorly arranged are dumped in trash bins.

There are always many applicants with the right qualifications for a given job who are not shortlisted for interviews as a result of their failure to package their potential in job related documents. This calls for guidance from the teachers. Some people may argue that the internet gives information about how to write such documents but how many of our learners have access to the internet?

Therefore, it is imperative for teachers to put emphasis on functional writing skills to enable learners compete for job opportunities favorably and also survive on job by being able to write   correspondences in the right way.

Teachers should guide learners on the format, content, language and purpose of job application letters. This can be done by getting job advertisements from newspapers and helping learners do practice on writing applications. If this is done regularly, it helps learners to master the concepts of writing such documents.

There is need for teachers to show the learners the relationship between a job application letter and curriculum vitae. They should know that the curriculum vitae gives more information about the applicant in terms of personal data, education background, employment background,  any special skills acquired that may add value to the organisation where the job is being sought, hobbies and referees. They should know its format, content and purpose. They should be encouraged to write their own curriculum vitae and keep updating them as they progress in academics. This approach compels them to develop life skills in order to get information to fill in the special skills’ section of the document.

Teachers should guide learners on how to write personal profiles. There are many prestigious universities overseas that offer scholarships to students who excel in academics, leadership skills and community service but some of the applicants fail to write good personal profiles because they do not have adequate information about the format, content and language that should be used. We should be able to teach them how to brand themselves in order to secure such opportunities.

There is need for the teachers to guide learners on how to write speeches for formal occasions. In the field of work, there are several situations that require office bearers to deliver speeches. However, there are many individuals who find it hard to write good speeches simply because they lack adequate skills of speech writing.

Therefore, teachers should always create situations in the classroom that require the learners to write speeches and present them because practice makes perfect.

Teachers should help learners to do practice in writing other types of formal letters like requisitions, claims and apologies among others. Such letters are commonly written in the field of work and it is important that learners know how to write them.

Let us prepare the young people for the field of work by equipping them with functional writing skills. As their torch bearers, we should show them the right way.

The writer is a teacher at Riviera High School

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