There are lots of aspects to take into account if we are to teach writing as a skill to communicate effectively with others.
First, we should bear in mind that writing and, therefore, learning how to write are both a process. We cannot ask our students to become proficient communicative writers overnight. It necessary for us to show them that there are several skills that need to be developed so as to enhance their writing. Students should be given opportunities to plan (i.e. to brainstorm, to create mindmaps, to make summaries of main points to be included in the text or to simply jot down words or ideas that they think are connected with the text's main idea). To develop planning, students can be simply asked to carry out "planning" activities without actually thinking of writing anything but just to practise the skill. Students should also be given opportunities to develop and improve their editing skills. Either as a step of a writing process or as an activity in itself, editing should be devoted enough time for students to become aware of how important drafting is when writing (it is true, however, that editing may not be an essential skill nowadays because most of the writing students do in real life is informal and needs no focus on accuracy: chatting, blog, photoblog, facebook and twitter posting and so on). Once students have planned, outlined and edited their text it is time for them to "make it public." It is essential for us to make it clear from the very beginning that what they are writing is for someone in particular, as Tricia Hedge very well wrote in her book 'Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom', "helping student writers to develop a sense of audience is another important task." Our students need to know that writing in English holds no difference with writing in their mother tongue: when we write we always have in mind the target reader because we always write to someone (even to ourselves but there is always a reader). Consequently, it become essential for teachers to be able to provide students with authentic audiences for them to be able to actually send a message while writing. There are several ways and places in which we can find authentic audiences: with the Internet so accessible nowadays we can help our students find lots of readers and writers with whom they can exchange realistic messages (e.g.: blogs, photoblogs, wikis, forums, social networks...). If access to the Internet were not possible, we could still find audiences within school (students from the same or other classrooms) or outside school (parents, students or teachers from other schools).
Since developing a sense of audience is so important, I would like to share with you a presentation created by Gladys Baya, who is an English teacher and teacher trainer. In this presentation, she provides us with several examples of authentic audiences to enhance both speaking and writing skills.
Post based on "Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom," Chapter IX, Tricia Hedge, Oxford University Press.