Writing is an outlet for emotions and thoughts, and despite the fact that writing skills come late on the ladder of acquisition, they still form an important component of second/foreign language learning (Fageeh, 2011). It is a complex process which involves different factors, and is an essential and necessary skill for ESL/EFL students (Hashemi & Amerian, 2011). Engle (1970) is of the view that through writing, students can see themselves as sincere, sensible, sensitive, thoughtful beings, capable of penetrating creative self-expression. It is imperative that gifted writers learn and master writing skills such as grammar, spelling and vocabulary, and punctuation (Schnur & Marmor, 2009: 718) as the written word carries a certain amount of prestige when compared with the spoken word (Olthouse, 2010).
Yet, a majority of students dislike writing (Cimcoz, 1999) although there is a considerable concern that the majority of adolescents do not develop the competence in writing they need to be successful in school, the workplace, or their personal lives (Graham & Perin, 2007). In fact, Jahin (2012) stressed that a consensus seems to prevail among language instructors that students view writing not only as a particularly challenging discipline but as the singly most difficult aspect of English language acquisition although Liao & Wong (2010) is of the view that a high command of English writing ability and skills is critical to advance college performance and academic success. However, despite the importance of writing, too many youngsters do not learn to write well enough to meet the demands of school or the workplace (Graham & Perin, 2007). The idea that writing is a complex skill and already having writing anxiety may not help learners including the gifted ones to master the aforementioned skill.
Learners can benefit from writing as it can enhance students' vocabulary, spelling and grammar (El-Koumy, 2004) and is considered a literacy skill which is active and productive (Vethanayagam, 2008). Competent writers would be able to take into consideration the variety of vocabulary, the correct spelling as well as the precise grammar required to convey their ideas in written form. As opposed to the transience of spoken language, writing has a lasting, permanent quality about it whereby it is less redundant, more planned, meaning and shades of meaning are conveyed by carefully chosen and placed words (Ferris, 2002). According to Vijaya (2010), written word is permanent and allows the reader some time to analyse and assess unlike spoken words whereby once recorded have short lives and mistakes made while speaking are more readily overlooked and forgotten. Additionally, grammar skills are enhanced as ESL writers make decisions about the form in which to present ideas (Hughey et al. 1983 in Siti Hamin Stapa, 1994). They must apply their knowledge of sentence patterns, frequently visualised as isolated rules, to shape their ideas into acceptable and effective sentences. They actively use knowledge of coordinating and subordinating structures, for example, to emphasise or deemphasize ideas (Siti Hamin Stapa, 1994). As such, learning to write well indirectly involves improving vocabulary, spelling and grammar besides having a longer lasting effect that the words were meant to convey.
Another byproduct of writing is as a vehicle through which students can readily express their critical thinking (Dixon, et al., 2005) since it enables enhancement of students' thinking skills (El-Koumy, 2004) due to a strong relationship between thinking and writing (Alhaisoni, 2012) which makes it an invaluable part of any language course (Yah Awg Nik, et al., 2010). Foo (2001) promotes dialogue journal writing with the teacher that enables students to think through critical and important issues with the help of a valued other. Analogous to the act of 'iron sharpening iron', this process will help enhance students' critical thinking skills. Fahsl & McAndrews (2012) concurred that the connection between writing and thinking is natural. Writing not only accomplishes the simple recording of ideas but also helps kids create new ideas. At one level, it is widely accepted that good writing and careful thinking go hand in hand (Applebee, 1984) whereby the ability to master writing skill is inclusive of the ability to generate ideas.
Fahsl & McAndrews (2012) acquiesced that writing is a powerful tool for thinking and learning. As children write, they shape their thinking and personalize their learning. According to Siti Hamin Stapa & Abdul Hameed Abdul Majid (2012), generating ideas, which falls in the realm of the prewriting stage is a big hurdle for many L2 writers and this stage invokes complex cognitive skills. Zamel (1998) as cited in Al-Sawalha & Chow (2012) further explains that writing has the ability to enhance learning in a particular discipline because it helps students to acquire content knowledge and in the course of analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating and making inferences, students are actually developing their cognitive skills. Hence, the ability to generate ideas for writing can be a clear indicator of a learner's level of cognitive skill.
Furthermore, writing is a means to communicate with others that transcends time and space and which involves a writer who produces a text for someone, including the self, and under certain circumstances (Velandia, 2007). Not only that, it enables communication with a large number of people all over the world (El-Koumy, 2004) and with others removed in both distance and time besides promoting a sense of heritage and purpose among larger groups of people (Graham & Perin, 2007). In view of that, learners who failed to master writing skills may feel left out of a certain loop as they could be unable to put their ideas and thoughts in written form. Inept writers can also be at a loss as they are unable to reach out to people and may have to resort to other ways of communication, for instance, face to face communication. Moreover, lack of competency in writing also limits the effectiveness of communication in the workplace and hurts productivity and employee relations. Hence, it is clear that penmanship and the ability to express ideas accurately, succinctly, and with correct are especially important (Bailey, 1984).
Writing is a demanding activity especially for learners of a second / foreign language and yet it is a skill that they have to master in order for learners to do well in content courses especially at the tertiary level of education (Nor Shidrah Mat Daud, et al., 2005) or success in higher education (Atkinson, 2011) and are often needed for formal and informal testing besides providing students with physical evidence of their achievement (El-Koumy, 2004). This has direct consequence to the learners' employability as their formal and informal testing result on their writing skills or lack of it would be considered as a reflection of their actual competence. The role of writing skills can never be questioned because in the world of work, competency in writing is required to prepare memorandums, job applications, proposals, brief presentation, summaries, letters, resumes and direction or instruction to others (Bailey, 1984) as writing is considered a fundamental aspect of literacy (Velandia, 2007). Being unable to complete the aforementioned task could only result in drawbacks. Additionally, learners should also be concerned of the importance of writing skills as their physical evidence of their achievement would speak for itself even before the learners are called for a face to face interview.
As such, being competent in all the other language skills but not writing would definitely be a setback for the learners. This may even be more perturbing for the gifted learners who are seen as the cr??me de la cr??me of the society. Therefore, focusing on the writing anxiety and performance of the gifted learners is one that is worth exploring.
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