In T.L. Huang, Y.H. Huang, W.C. Chang, C.R. Chen, L.W. Chen, & C.J. Chen (Eds.), Papers from the fourth conference on English language teaching and learning in the Republic of China (pp. 275-289).  Taipei: Crane Publishing Co., Ltd, 1987.

Coordination in the EFL Curriculum: Writing and Public Speaking1

Johanna E. Katchen


One of the problems teachers face is convincing students that essay writing and speech making are processes that involve much more than just putting words on paper or talking to an audience.  Students, whether they are native speakers of English or learning it as a foreign language, often see only the end product of an essay or speech.  They know very little about the process and preparation involved in the production of good written and oral works.  Teachers may even encourage this perception by grading student writing from timed writing samples.  Writing is something students make a concentrated effort to do in a relatively short period of time, turn in, and immediately forget.  The finished product is most certainly not a very good one, not even in the essay test, where content is emphasized over form.

Furthermore, students may also have little experience in how to organize what they want to say, perhaps even in their native language.  For example, in countries as diverse as Venezuela, Iran, and Yugoslavia2, writing skills may not be taught specifically, but oral skills are emphasized, and most or all tests in elementary and secondary schools are oral.  Writing may b used for copying from books or repeating what someone else has said--the student regurgitates to show that he "knows" the material, to show how well he has memorized it.  Here in Taiwan, students write compositions in Mandarin in the junior and senior high school, but they are given little or no instruction in rhetoric.  Their first exposure to structural patterns and organization may be in their English classes.3

Finally, the rhetorical structures themselves, or the way they are used, may be different, as Kaplan (1966) initially suggested.  This is the field known as contrastive rhetoric.  Much work is being done on both oral and written discourse, for example, Hinds (1979, 1980, 1983) for Japanese, Tannen (1980, 1982, 1984) for Greek, Ostler (1981) for Arabic, Katchen (1982) for Farsi, and many others.  Several papers presented at The Third Conference on English Language Teaching and Learning in Taiwan (1986) addressed the question of whether the Chinese rhetorical patterns are different from the English/American ones.  It is not the purpose of this paper to attempt to answer that question.  Nevertheless, the notion of rhetorical patterns and their possible differences between cultures is an important one for the point of view expressed in this paper.

A very important assumption made here is that writing (and especially the more formal oral presentations, i.e., public speaking) not only involves constructing grammatical sentences, but also using the rhetorical patterns appropriate to and used by educated native speakers of that language.  University students need direction in organizing their thoughts for presentation, including native speakers of English, who have been exposed to standard American rhetorical modes since childhood.  To cite just one example, the basics of comparison and contrast, along with the cultural value of competition and being number one, are reinforced for American children countless times daily in Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola commercials.  Yet they, too, need to be shown the explicit rhetorical structures and how to manipulate them.  Thus, even if the pattern is a familiar one, the students may not be aware of it or how to use it.  Rhetorical structures must be taught.

These previous points about the backgrounds of EFL students suggest a few approaches.  First, the planning process must be emphasized.  Because students tend to think of only the finished product, they must be taught how to choose a topic they like and know something about, how to generate material, and how to plan the development by outlining.  Furthermore, the revising, editing, and proofreading steps are especially important for EFL students because their language skills necessitate more work on that level.

Second, rhetorical organization must be presented and explained clearly, because the students may have little or no formal experience using the structure, and because the structure may be different or may not exist in the native language or culture.  Finally, students should be shown that the rhetorical modes are patterns of thought and presentation that may be used with both writing and speaking.  Consequently, if a student feels more comfortable with oral presentation, he may be shown that written presentation shares many similarities with the oral one.

This paper reports on a program in which the writing and public speaking classes were coordinated, and the students were required to spend more time on the preparation process.  Both courses were planned according to types of rhetorical patterns (e.g., process, comparison and contrast).  In the next section, brief background information is given on the English language program in which these courses were taught.  Then, overviews of the writing component and the public speaking component are given, followed by a discussion of their coordination.  Finally, some conclusions and implications for teaching English in Taiwan's universities are drawn.

Background of the Program

This paper reports on a teaching strategy developed at and for the Intensive English Communication Program (IECP), one of the many continuing education services of the Pennsylvania State University.  The IECP is a 30-hour a week program in English language skills for nonnative speakers.  Students take grammar, reading, writing, speaking/listening, and language lab classes each day.  The program's six levels range from beginning through intermediate to advanced.  The majority of the students enroll at IECP to learn or improve their English sufficiently to be able to enroll as full-time students at the Pennsylvania State University, either at the undergraduate or at the graduate level.

Whereas at the beginning and intermediate levels, basic language skills are taught and practiced, at the higher levels--levels 5 and 6--language skills for university work are emphasized.  Level 6 is academic preparation: students attend some university classes and lectures along with their instructor, write term papers or proposals step-by-step, and make speeches.  After successfully completing level 6, the students are considered ready to enter the university.  Indeed, at the Pennsylvania State University, students are admitted on the basis of a B average from level 6 in lieu of the otherwise required score of 550 in the TOEFL--Test of English as  Foreign Language.

Level 5, however, is where IECP begins much of its instruction with future university work in mind.  In writing, students move from the paragraph level to the so-called five paragraph essay.  In speaking and listening students move from conversational skills and short oral reports to the 5 - 7 minute speech.4  Both these writing and speaking skills are required undergraduate courses at the Pennsylvania State University.  Even the level 5 grammar class supports the writing and speaking classes by focusing on the sentence level and beyond; for example, students do extensive work with transition words and complex sentences.

Courses at IECP run for a seven-week term, with a one-hour class five days a week for writing and a one-hour class five days a week for speaking.  The coordination of the three courses was dine for three successive terms by the same two teachers.5

The Writing Component

The text used for the writing class was Refining Composition Skills by Regina L. Smalley and Mary Reutten Hank.  It is written for advanced ESL students at the university level.  The first section of the book, roughly the first third, covers paragraph structures, while the second part presents essay development.  The chapters are organized according to the rhetorical structures taught.  At the previous level, level 4, students did extensive writing on the paragraph level.  For those who came into the program at level 5, it was concluded from their writing sample and other initial English language test scores that they has sufficient ability at the paragraph level to move on to the essay level.  Nevertheless, the first week was spent reviewing paragraph structure: e.g., topic sentences, unity, coherence, supporting evidence, and examples.  Students analyzed paragraphs presented in the textbook or written by classmates; and they planned, wrote, and revised their own paragraphs.  The purposes for writing and the relationship of the writer to his audience were also discussed.  Week 2 was spent on introductory paragraphs and concluding paragraphs.  Students learned the basics of outlining in order to plan the developmental paragraphs of their essays.

In Week 3 students wrote an essay which they developed using examples.  In Week 4 they wrote a process essay, in week 5 a comparison and contrast essay, in week 6 a classification essay, and in week 7 a cause and effect essay.  The seven-week term limited the number of rhetorical structures covered, so these five were chosen.  However, students continued their writing using particular rhetorical skills in level 6, again using Refining Composition Skills as their text and reference book.  As undergraduates, they get a more thorough grounding in using the various rhetorical structures in their English classes.  The writing preparation needs of graduate students are a little different, but they may still need to use, for example, a description of a process in the methodology section of a thesis.  Thus, although the future writing skills needs of the students are varied, they were introduced to structures that they were likely to need to use later.

Outline of Level 5 Writing Course

Text: Smalley, R. L., & Hank, M. R.  (1982).  Refining Composition Skills. New York: Macmillan.

Week 1 Introduction to the course, review of paragraph structure (e.g., topic sentences, unity coherence), relationship of the writer, the topic, and the audience.
Week 2 Essay structure, introductory paragraphs, concluding paragraphs, outlining.
Week 3 Example essay.
Week 4 Process essay.
Week 5 Comparison and Contrast essay.
Week 6 Classification essay.
Week 7 Cause and Effect essay.

The Public Speaking Component6

The public speaking course was also divided into two stages: three weeks of preparation for speech making and four weeks of speech production and criticism.  The students produced four 5 to 7 minute speeches using the same rhetorical patterns as the essays they produced in writing class: i.e., process, comparison and contrast, classification, and cause and effect.

Although the production goals of the writing course and the speaking course were quite similar (Five essays and four speeches), the preparation stage was different in several ways.  First, a textbook was not used.  One reason for this is as yet there is no public speaking textbook written on a level that the students can understand without having to spend too much time on interpreting the text.  The public speaking textbooks available are written for native speakers of English and presume too much previous of the English language and American culture.  Also, most texts are written for a semester-length course which focuses only on the topic of pubic speaking.  Although this course is titled "Public Speaking," the goals of the course ere often adjusted and the class activities tailored to suit the needs of the students.  Depending on the level of proficiency of an individual class, some time may have been spent each day or each week developing other speaking/listening skills, such as conversational skills, listening comprehension, question formation, pronunciation, intonation, voice projection in English, nonverbal communication, and cultural differences in communication.  Class lectures, seven films, and numerous handouts were used instead of a text to give the students the background they needed to give speeches.

The basics of speech preparation were presented during the first three weeks of the course, including the following topics: types of speeches; selecting a topic, a specific purpose, and a residual message; audience and situation analysis; structuring and supporting ideas; and presentational concerns.  Class lectures were supplemented by the seven films listed below.  They not only served as good listening comprehension activities, but they also provided a number of both positive and negative examples of actual speeches.  In addition, several of the films could easily be outlined and analyzed or structure as a class exercise.

In each of the final four weeks of the course, the students examined a model structure and prepared a speech on their own topics using that structure.  In week 4 they presented a process speech, in week comparison and contrast, in week six classification, and in week seven cause and effect.  Their speech presentation was videotaped and viewed by the students in class for critique.  Class members learned to give feedback and constructive criticism on both the organization and the presentation of speeches.

The public speaking class was not considered to be at all comprehensive.  It was intended to be a preparatory course with the general goal of improving the speaking/listening skills of nonnative English speaking students, as well as laying a rudimentary foundation for he public speaking course that would be required of these students later in their university studies.  In the writing course as well as the public speaking course, the main goal was teaching English skills, not essay writing or public speaking.

Outline of Level 5 Public Speaking Course

Week 1 Introduction to the course, types of speeches, selecting a topic, selecting a purpose, audience and situation analysis.
Week 2 Selecting a residual message, speech structure, outlining, forms of support.
Week 3 Speech delivery and presentation, visual aids, nonverbal communication.
Week 4 Process speech.
Week 5 Comparison and Contrast speech.
Week 6 Classification speech.
Week 7 Cause and Effect speech.


Films for Public Speaking

1. Stage Fright (Second Edition) (CENTEF) 1979. 13 minutes.
2. Is There Communication When You Speak?  (MGHT) 1957. 19 minutes.
3. Planning Your Speech (CENTEF) 1979.  12 minutes.
4. Reporting and Briefing (CENTEF) 1979.  15 minutes.
5. Communicate by Voice and Action (Second Edition) (CENTEF) 1979. 14 minutes.
6. Visual Aids. (MLA) 1966. 28 minutes.
7. Aids to Speaking (CENTEF) 1979. 15 minutes.

Integrating EFL Writing and Public Speaking: Practical Application

The ideas presented above on the backgrounds and needs of the students led to two conclusions.  First, when speaking and writing are taught, the processes of choosing a topic, generating material, organizing, revising, and so on should also be taught and practiced.  Second, rhetorical structures should be taught as vehicles for expressing thoughts and ideas.  This section shows how both the process and the rhetorical structures were taught and integrated in the IECP program.

As can be seen from the outlines, both the writing and speaking courses were divided into two stages-- preparation and production.  The preparation stage for essay writing took two weeks and for speech making three weeks.  A day-by-day synchronization of courses was not attempted during the preparation stage, although many closely related topics were discussed.  This was due partly to the additional topics that had to be introduced in the speech course, such as nonverbal and cross-cultural communication.  Also, depending on the level of proficiency of the speaking class, sometimes considerable class time was spent practicing conversational skills.  Even though the two courses were not coordinated day-by-day during the preparation stage, the students often made the connections themselves and brought up examples from writing class and vice versa.

Now one unit--the process unit--is examined in detail to show how the writing and speaking courses were integrated during the production stage.  This unit was taught in the fourth week of both seven-week courses.  In the IECP program, the writing course was taught for one hour in the morning and the speaking course was taught for one hour in the afternoon, in addition to the students' other classes.  On day one of the process unit, the process structure was introduced and examples given in the writing class.  Students read and analyzed a process essay from the text for homework.  In the afternoon speech class, students and teacher outlined a process speech together and discussed suitable speech topics.  For homework, students had to select a topic, write a residual message, and develop a basic outline for their process speeches.

On day two in writing class, the homework assignment--the analysis of a process essay--was discussed, and more details about structure were presented.  For homework students analyzed an essay from the text for structure and transitions.  In speech class, speech topics and outlines were developed on the board as a class.  For homework students prepared their speeches.

On day three the writing class continued to work on transitions and vocabulary for the process essay and discussed possible topics.  For homework, students prepared a topic and outline for their essay.  In speech class, each student's speech presentation was videotaped, and students had to write written evaluations of each other's work.

On day four the writing class redeveloped essay outlines on the board and discussed alternative forms of development.  Although students were free to change or modify their speech class topics for the writing class, most students kept the same topic.  For homework students wrote rough drafts of their essays.  The speech class watched the videotape from the previous day and gave constructive criticism.

On day five students in the writing class analyzed and critiqued their rough drafts together with the help of the teacher.  For homework they wrote their final drafts.  The speech class finished the critiques of the videotaped speeches.  The next day students turned in their essays in the writing class, and a new unit focusing on the next structure was begun in both the writing and public speaking classes.

Outline for the Process Unit--Essays and Speeches

Day 1 Writing Introduce structure, give oral examples.  Homework--read and analyze a process essay for structure.
Speaking Outline a process speech together.  Homework--bring topic, residual message, and outline to next class.
Day 2 Writing Go over analysis of process essay, present more about structure, give examples.  Homework--analyze an essay for structure and transitions.
Speaking Develop topics and outlines on the board. Homework--prepare speech.
Day 3 Writing Work on transitions and vocabulary for process essay.  Homework--prepare topic and outline.
Speaking Videotape speech presentation,
Day 4 Writing Redevelop outlines and topic on the board, talk about other possible forms of development.  Homework--write rough drafts.
Speaking Critique videotapes.
Day 5 Writing Analyze and critique rough drafts together.
Speaking Finish critiques of videotapes.
Day 6/1 Writing Turn in essays, introduce next structure, etc.
Speaking Introduce next structure, etc.


Unfortunately, it is not known whether students learned better with our coordinated skills program over learning the skills separately.  Since IECP class size was limited to ten students and the number was often five or six, valid testing was impossible.  Furthermore, the students came from varied language and cultural backgrounds, had different educational histories, and ranged in age from seventeen years old to over sixty years old, although the majority were usually in their twenties.  Nevertheless, the students seemed to "catch on" to the rhetorical structures more quickly and use them more effectively than before.  During the posttest and in level 6, many of the former level 5 students used the structures successfully with very little assistance.  For example, here is a Spring II Term IECP pretest and posttest7 writing sample of a Chinese woman8 who entered level 5 after the pretest, completed the seven-week course, including the public speaking and writing courses, and then wrote the posttest essay.  Five minutes planning time and fifteen minutes writing time were allotted to both the pretest and the posttest.  The pretest essay--Why it is necessary to have an education in my country--is a rather loosely organized paragraph.  In contrast, the posttest, written seven weeks later--The differences between women in my country and in the U.S.A.--is a five-paragraph essay with clear supporting information.  It may lack detailed development and have some grammatical errors, but it has a solid basis for further development.  What more would a teacher expect in only twenty minutes from the time the topic was given?

Sample Essays

Pretest--Spring II     Why it is necessary to have an education in my country
I'm from the P.R.C.  My country is an old country.  It's well known that the Chinese Nation began its education in early time.  Because of some special reasons, we cannot develop our education.  So we should learn from other countries and develop our education, especially advanced education.  It's necessary to have a good education in China.  If our education is good, we can have a lot of young people who has modern technology.  We can develop our economy.  We can make our country rich.  We can make our people have a good life.  On the other hand, there are still some places of China is poor.  So it's necessary to have a good education in my country.  After I graduate from U.S. univ I will do my best to do contribution for the education of my country.


Posttest--Spring II     The differences between women in my country and in the U.S.A.

            China is a east country, and the U.S. is a west country.  Because of the different cultrual in the two country, the women in two country is very different.  The considerable differences are about clothes, make-up, and work.

            In the U.S.A. the women's clothes  usually appear more skin.  But in China is different, the women's clothes usually cover more skin.  If one women's clothe appear more skin, some old people might think this woman isn't a good one.

            In the U.S.A. most women do make-up, they want to be beautiful by doing make-up.  Unlike in the U.S.A. the Chinese woman usually don't do make-up.  They just do make-up in the special case.

            Although in the U.S.A., women working is very common but there are also a lot of housewifes.  In contrast to the U.S.A. in China housewife is not very common. Most women have to work.

            Up to now, you can see the differences between the women in China and in the U.S.A.  Those are about clothes, doing make-up and work.  If you go to China sometimes, you can see these differences very easily.

Of course, the differences between these two essays may be due to the type of essay.  The pretest topic asks for reasons, while the posttest is comparison and contrast.  However, for each test the student had to choose one of four topics around a theme.  The theme for the pretest was education and the topic questions elicited different forms of organization.  For example, one of the education topics was Differences in education between my country and the U.S.A.  Similarly, in the posttest, the student could have chosen The role of women in my country or one of two other topics on the theme of women.  Perhaps this student chose The differences between women in my country and in the U.S.A. because she recognized the need for comparison and contrast organization and knew she could handle the structure and content.  It is unfortunate that she did not choose a comparison and contrast topic for her pretest for our comparison here.

The above examples are timed writing samples.  The speeches and essays the students prepared outside of class also seemed to be somewhat better in content, organization, and grammar than essays done in class.  It is believed this was because students were forced to work with their topics and to shape them not into one, but two somewhat finished products.  In-class discussion about their outlines covered other possible ways to develop the topic, changes that would be produced by a different audience, differences in presentation between oral and written modes, and so forth.  Students also revised their essays, both first drafts and also any unacceptable "final" drafts, and they critiqued their videotaped speeches.  After seeing and hearing their speeches and the reactions and comments of the other students and the teacher, students often recognized weaknesses and attempted to correct them in the essay.  As seen from the sample unit, much class time was spent on developing, reshaping, and revising work.  It is hoped that this workshop approach carries over to the students' future work, to the time when they write reports or articles and give speeches to other professionals in their respective fields.


As mentioned above, the IECP courses met five days a week for seven weeks.  Students had one hour of writing in the morning and one hour of speaking in the afternoon.  Because students took both courses at the same time, the teachers could work together, although the occasional student who took only morning or afternoon classes had to be accommodated.

However, the college teaching situation here in Taiwan may be different in terms of contact hours per week, number of students, and other areas.  At Tsing Hua, I see my public speaking class, which has 23 students, once a week for a two-hour block of time.  They have writing in another two-hour block once a week.  This type of scheduling makes it a bit difficult to lead students step-by-step through the prewriting, writing, and revision processes, or their counterparts in public speaking.  Nevertheless, it si possible to teach the writing or speech preparation process and to make students prepare their compositions or speeches step-by-step.  For example, for each rhetorical mode I teach, I spend one or two class periods giving background information, sample essays using that mode, types of organization, vocabulary often used when writing in that mode (such as transition words), and possible topics.  I require my students to turn in speech outlines four calendar days before they are scheduled to speak in class and I return the outlines three days before so that students have a chance to incorporate my comments and suggestions into their speeches.  After each speech is made, I ask the class for comments, reactions, and suggestions, and I, too, make a few brief comments on major points.  I also tape record their speeches (plans are being made to videotape) and make a student copy for students to pass around and listen to on their own time.  Each student is then required to meet with me individually to discuss his/her speech.  During this time we can also spend time on problems, such as pronunciation, that we might not want to waste class time on, and we can sometimes save student embarrassment before peers.

As mentioned above, at Tsing Hua University, sophomore English majors each week have a two-hour block speech class in which they give five-minute speeches, and a two-hour block writing class in which they practice paragraph writing in the first semester and essay writing the second semester.  That is, by the time they write essays, they have already had practice with several rhetorical modes in paragraph writing and speech making, and they have already had practice with essay-length organization when they prepared their speeches.  They then continue essay writing in the junior year.

At Tsing Hua we have the potential and are discussing the possibility of coordinating our writing, speaking, and even other courses more closely.  For example, we need to know how a specific course fits in with the student's overall program, so that we can build on students' previous knowledge and review without being repetitious.  No matter what the outcome, the discussion of course content among teachers of related subjects can only serve to make us more knowledgeable in teaching our own subjects.  We hope that the ideas presented in this paper will give other college and university teachers here in Taiwan suggestions they can adopt or modify for the improvement of their own courses and programs.


1. This is a revised version of a paper co-authored with Mary Beth Garvin and presented at The Penn State Conference on Rhetoric and Composition, Pennsylvania State University, July 12, 1985.

2. This information is from discussions with teachers, students, and personal experience.

3. This information is from discussions with other teachers of English and Chinese in Taiwan.

4. The IECP speech and writing courses had been organized a few years earlier by previous instructors Delores Rafter and Sandy Chupkai Morgan.

5. For three 7-week terms, Mary Beth Garvin taught the speech component and Johanna Katchen taught the writing component.

6. This section of the paper was originally prepared by Mary Beth Garvin.

7. During the first day and the last day of each IECP term, all students were given a battery of tests, one of which was the timed composition.  All levels were given the same tests on a given day, although the firms of each test varied for each test date.

8. This student arrived in the United States in the autumn and entered the IECP Fall II Term at Level 3.  In the Spring I Term, she completed Level 4.


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