A process is a series of stages in time where the last stage is the product, result or goal. Processes may be planned or unplanned.
A process planned by humans has a purpose. It is a course of action, or a procedure, to achieve a result, or an end-product. The sequence from start to finish is the plan. A plan may be written, or programmed, or just held in the mind. Examples: building a house, fighting a battle, sowing crops; organising a wedding…
Non human processes can be investigated and described. Examples: the evolution of the solar system; biological evolution; the growth of melting of ice at the Arctic; the process of development from egg to adult.
Processes often repeat whenever certain conditions hold. Example: car low on petrol/gas, visit garage and refill. Most computer programs are of this type. Processes may be circular: planets revolve around sun; eggs produce chickens, and chickens produce eggs.
Processes, especially those which are cyclical, may be subject to feedback. A simple case is a central heating system.

Product (as a general idea) is anything which results from a process.
A product approach
This is a traditional approach, in which students are encouraged to mimic a model text, which is usually presented and analysed at an early stage. A model for such an approach is outlined below:
Stage 1
Model texts are read, and then features of the genre are highlighted. For example, if studying a formal letter, students’ attention may be drawn to the importance of paragraphing and the language used to make formal requests. If studying a story, the focus may be on the techniques used to make the story interesting, and students focus on where and how the writer employs these techniques.
Stage 2
This consists of controlled practice of the highlighted features, usually in isolation. So if students are studying a formal letter, they may be asked to practise the language used to make formal requests, practising the ‘I would be grateful if you would…’ structure.
A process approach
Process approaches to writing tend to focus more on the varied classroom activities which promote the development of language use: brainstorming, group discussion, re-writing. Such an approach can have any number of stages, though a typical sequence of activities could proceed as follows;
Stage 1
Generating ideas by brainstorming and discussion. Students could be discussing qualities needed to do a certain job, or giving reasons as to why people take drugs or gamble. The teacher remains in the background during this phase, only providing language support if required, so as not to inhibit students in the production of ideas.
Process writing Product writing
• text as a resource for comparison
• ideas as starting point
• more than one draft
• more global, focus on purpose, theme, text type, i.e., reader is emphasised
• collaborative
• emphasis on creative process • imitate model text
• organisation of ideas more important than ideas themselves
• one draft
• features highlighted including controlled practice of those features
• individual
• emphasis on end product


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