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QUESTION 1

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Writing is a ‘highly complex, cognitive, self-directed activity’ (Graham et al: 2012:7) that
involves ‘the use and coordination of many cognitive processes’ (Gillespie and Graham,
2011:4), require a high degree of organization of ideas coupled with semantic and
grammatical accuracy (Hedge, 1988). Hence, writing is a struggle for a large segment of the
population. Report writing is a type of writing which has always been a difficult task for
individuals especially ESL practitioners (English as Second Language). A report is defined
as a document that delivers information in an organised format for a specific audience and
purpose. It is divided into sections with headings and subheading which tends to discuss a
topic in a structured and easy-to-follow format. According to Shirley Kuiper and Dorinda
Clippinger (2013), a report is considered as an effective writing only if it is empathetic,
accurate, complete, concise, and clear. Moreover, the writer's objectives are also most likely
to be achieved if they correspond with the needs and objectives of the reader. Since it is an
effective way of discussing a matter, everybody is practicing report writing in varying sectors
and education is one of these. However, many of the students especially ESL students are
facing problems in writing a report due to the lack of exposure and practice in writing a
report. Literally, report writing plays a vital role among the students to compose a structured
and on point piece of writing because “Writing is such an important learning tool because it
helps students to understand ideas and concepts better” (Voon Foo, 2007). Hence, the ESL
teachers in Malaysia take tons of measures to develop the report writing skill of the pupils so
that it will enhance their writing skill. One of the effective activities to develop the report
writing skill is writing a book report.

According to Richard (2018), a book report is defined as a written composition or oral


presentation that describes, summarizes, and evaluates a work of fiction or nonfiction. A
book report is primarily a school exercise, "a means of determining whether or not a student
has read a book" (Teaching Language Arts in Middle Schools, 2000). It brings numerous of
benefits to the ESL students to in order to improve the writing skill and reading skill as well.

2.0 BENEFITS OF WRITING A BOOK REPORT


2.1 IMPROVES EXTENSIVE READING OF ESL STUDENTS
Rivers (1981) said that, “reading is the most important activity in any language
class, not only as a source of information and a pleasurable activity, but also as a
means of consolidating and extending one’s which are knowledge of the
language”. However, students nowadays pay lack of interest in reading and they
read only to score in exams. It stops them from acquiring new ideas and read
more. Thus, writing a book report can increase the extensive reading of the
students. Extensive reading involves learners reading texts for enjoyment and to
develop general reading skills. It can be compared with intensive reading, which
means reading in detail with specific learning aims and tasks. Writing a book
report requires the students to read extensively so that they can write in detail
about the contents embedded in the book they have read (Gillet, 2009). For an
example, they need to know about the plot, theme, and main subject so that can
write a brief summary of the book they have read. Furthermore, writing a book
report will also widen their choice to choose the types of genre they want to read
and write a report. It will stimulate their interest on reading more books which will
improve their report writing skills in the end (Samraj, 2005). In addition, writing
report on a book will simultaneously encourage their peers to read as well
because "A book report is a way for you to let others know about a book you
have read. A good book report will help others decide whether they want to read
the book or not" said Ann McCallum, William Strong, and Tina Thoburn in 1998.
Thus, book report writing activity is able to improve the ESL students’ extensive
reading habit and also influence their peers to read.

2.2 IMPROVES WRITING SKILL


As we all know, the main purpose of practicing book report writing in ESL
classroom is to improve the students’ writing skill in English which is known as
second language (L2) in Malaysia. Writing is a significant skill for language
production and it plays a vital role among the ESL learners to learn English in a
correct way. However, the writing skills of the Malaysian students are alarmingly
weak and substandard and it is considered as a difficult skill (Almas Ashraf,
2016). The problem should be rectified since the students are still in primary
schooling so that they won’t be struggled to write in English in future. Hence,
book report writing activity has the capability to enhance the pupil’s writing skills
as well. According to Nik, Hamzah and Rafidee (2010), writing a book report
enables the students to report factual information in an organized manner.
Report writing carries few steps which should be followed by the students so that
they can produce a correct form of book report. It acts as a guideline for the
students to practice writing skills in an effective and fun way. For evidence, there
are 5 core steps to write a book report: chose the book, read the book, write an
outline, write and edit the book report and format the book report. All these steps
play respective roles to grasp writing skill from basic. Thus, book report writing
guides the students to improve their writing skills.
2.3 IMPROVES ANALYTICAL THINKING
Analytical thinking is referred as a critical component of visual thinking that gives
one the ability to solve problems quickly and effectively. It involves a methodical
step-by-step approach to thinking that allows you to break down complex
problems into single and manageable components. In order to write a book
report, the students are required to think analytically so that they can scrape out
all the significant information from the book they have read. Rahman (2002)
stated that book report writing activity has the ability to prompt the students to
think critically where they tend to analyse the theme and character of a book. For
evidence, Nickerson (2014) suggested few questions which questions which can
be used by the students to analyse a book critically. For an example, if they want
to analyse the characters the students should brainstorm questions like who are
the important characters and what are their relationships to each other?
Therefore, instead of improving writing and reading skills, the students can also
improve their analytical thinking skills by writing book report.
3.0 CONCLUSION
in a nutshell, it is clear enough that book report writing can provide numerous of benefits
to the learners especially to the ESL learners. It makes the students to read more which
will help them to improve on writing skills as well. Besides, it will also stimulate their
analytical thinking skill. Thus, all the ESL teachers should emphasize the practice of
writing book report in the ESL classroom.