Paper Title
Elias Ikechukwu Ugwu
Arts, Language, and Communication

The study recognizes that writing though a very important language skill is difficult to acquire. To ease the mastery of the skill, various approaches have been propounded by scholars to assist second language learners, especially. The uncontrolled or free approach was discovered by mentalist theorists as a solution to the writing problem. The approach stresses fluency. It also views writing as problem-solving. Five factors were identified as influences that caused the emergence of the uncontrolled approach. The approach developed into writing-to-learn approach in America and England following an attempt to bring it to practical application. The study, therefore, concludes that fluency in continuous writing has great impact on learning.

Uncontrolled approach, Strategy, Acquisition, Writing skill


Writing, along with speaking, is an expressive skill of language. Ugwu (2015) states that a learner is proficient in a language if he, not only speaks it, but can write in the language with competence. The acquisition of the ability to write however is very difficult. Watson (1980), for instance, states that the hardest part of writing is to write: thinking is much easier; writing is hard; it sometimes seems even harder than it is because one can easily forget it is not a single process. This view is reinforced by Nunan (2003), who asserts that in terms of skill, producing a coherent extended piece of writing is probably the most difficult thing there is to do in language.

To facilitate the acquisition of the writing skill, scholars have initiated various approaches to teaching and learning it. These are the controlled/traditional/product approach, the uncontrolled/free approach, the amalgamated/communicative approach and the process approach. Each of the approaches has had impact on the acquisition of writing.

Though the uncontrolled approach to the teaching of writing is somewhat forgotten, this article revisits its principles to expose how they can be of use to teachers and learners of writing. The uncontrolled or free approach was the first of the approaches formulated by the mentalist theorists as they kicked against the tenets of the behaviorist theorists who developed the controlled approach to writing. The uncontrolled approach was later refined to create the communicative approach and the process approach.


The Uncontrolled/Free Approach to Writing

The uncontrolled approach, also referred to as the free approach, is a contribution of the mentalist theorists to the problem of teaching writing, especially to second language learners. Unlike the controlled approach that insists on accuracy, this approach is concerned with fluency. Juan de Pasto (2010) reveals that this writing approach emphasizes content and fluency more than form and grammar. The learner is encouraged to write on different issues on his own with little teacher-intervention. The benefit of this approach which focuses on quantity rather than quality is that the learner’s extensive practices give him greater control of content and grammar.


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