Literacy: From writing recount to writing in true narrative

Year: 2007

Author: Kigotho, Mutuota

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Writing a recount is much easier than writing in true narrative. However, while anyone can easily learn to write a recount, writing in true narrative is much harder and requires a much higher level of cognitive ability and has to be explicitly taught. Experienced writers make a distinction between writing a recount and writing in true narrative (Riley and Reedy, 2000; Shrubshall, 1997; O’Brien, 1992; Krause, 1997). Based on research reported elsewhere (Kigotho, 2004, 2006), I have argued in the current paper that in teaching early literacy, teachers that focus on explicit instruction on true narrative rather than on recount have a more realistic chance of enhancing the development of student writing. The demand on students’ cognitive ability is much less than in other forms of writing such as procedure writing and writing explanations. Writing experts recommend recounts as a form of writing for students still in the early stages of learning how to write well. Writing in true narrative requires the writer to establish a conflict situation and show how this leads to a conflict resolution. Events are presented in a manner that shows causality. Characters are usually well-developed and contrasted. Students that write in true narrative are on the way to becoming expert writers.

This paper reports writing research findings carried out among female students for whom English is a Second Language. The students were aged between fifteen and eighteen. The research was conducted in two rural schools in Central Kenya. The findings suggest that the teaching method of giving explicit instruction based on the writing of true narrative coupled with a significant amount of practice has the potential to produce texts that could independently be judged as good writing.