Teaching Writing to Beginning ESL Students
Starting off Simple to Ensure Later Success
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Beginner-level writing classes are challenging to teach because of the students' still-limited knowledge of the language. For a beginner-level student, you wouldn't start out with exercises such as, " write a paragraph about your family" or "write three sentences describing your best friend." Before diving into short paragraphs, it is helpful to set up students with concrete tasks.
Start With the Nuts and Bolts
For many students—especially those who are native to languages that represent letters or words in alphabets vastly different from English's 26 letters—knowing that a sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a period is not necessarily intuitive. Make sure to start off by teaching your student some basics:
- Begin each sentence with a capital letter.
- End each sentence with a period and a question with a question mark.
- Use capital letters with proper names and the pronoun "I."
- Each sentence contains a subject, verb and, usually, a complement (such as a prepositional phrase or direct object).
- Basic sentence structure is: Subject + verb + complement.
Focus on Parts of Speech
To teach writing, students must know the basic parts of speech . Review nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Ask students to categorize words in these four categories. Taking time to ensure students understand the role of each part of speech in a sentence will pay off.
Suggestions to Help With Simple Sentences
After students have an understanding of the groundwork, use simple sentence structures to help them begin writing. Sentences may be very repetitive in these exercises, but the use of compound and complex sentences are too advanced for students at this stage in the learning process. Only after students gain confidence through a number of simple exercises will they be able to move on to more complicated tasks, such as joining elements with a conjunction to make a compound subject or verb. Then they will graduate to using short compound sentences and adding short introductory phrases.
Simple Exercise Examples
Simple exercise 1: describing yourself.
In this exercise, teach standard phrases on the board, such as:
My name is ...
I am from ...
I live in ...
I am married/single.
I go to school/work at ...
I (like to) play ...
I speak ...
Use only simple verbs such as "live," "go," "work," "play," "speak," and "like" as well as set phrases with the verb "to be." After students feel comfortable with these simple phrases, introduce writing about another person with "you," "he," "she," or "they."
Simple Exercise 2: Describing a Person
After students have learned basic factual descriptions, move on to describing people. In this case, help students by writing out descriptive vocabulary in categories. For example:
Then, write out verbs on the board. Ask the students to use words from the categories in conjunction with the verbs to teach students how to formulate simple descriptive sentences . Through this, teach students to use "be" with adjectives describing physical appearance and personality traits. Teach them to use "have" with physical attributes (long hair, big eyes, etc.). For example:
I am ... (hardworking/outgoing/shy/etc.)
I have ... (long hair/big eyes)
Ask students to write about one person, using the verbs and vocabulary presented in both exercises. As you check the students' work, make sure that they are writing simple sentences and not stringing too many attributes together. At this point, it is better if students do not use multiple adjectives in a sentence in a row because this requires a good understanding of adjective order . In this case, simplicity prevents confusion.
Simple Exercise 3: Describing an Object
Continue working on writing skills by asking students to describe objects. Use the following categories to help students classify words to use in their writing:
- is made from/of
Variation : Ask students to write a description of an object without naming the object. Other students should then guess what the object is. For example:
This object is round and smooth. It is made of metal. It has many buttons. I use it to listen to music.
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How to Teach the Basics of Writing to ESL Students
In my previous post I talked about the ESL newcomer curriculum and even earlier – t opics to cover when you have and absolute beginner ESL student. But I just realized that none of those tips covered writing in greater detail!
So let’s not waste any more time – here are some ideas on how to teach writing to ESL beginners.
Here is what you will learn in this blog post:
Parts of speech
Punctuation and capitalization.
Writing practice activities
Start with the basics
Imagine yourself in a situation when you are just starting out to learn a new language. You literally know nothing – words make no sense, reading is all jumbled, writing is strange. With this knowledge in mind, you can begin planning your writing instruction for ESL beginners.
In order for someone to be able to produce writing, they need to know the alphabet and how those letters and sounds form words, which later turn into sentences.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when teaching the alphabet:
In English, the vowel has the power. It is important to teach ESL beginners (yes, even older ones. Actually, especially older ones!) the alphabet and the variations in the sounds that the letters make. Some languages do not place as huge a significance on vowels or the words are pronounced pretty much as they are written.
Others have an entirely different alphabet (Asian languages such as Chinese, Japanese; Middle Eastern – Arabic, Hebrew; Cyrillic – Russian, Greek). Therefore, in order to begin writing your ESL beginners will need to pay extra special attention to the alphabet.
If the students are very young or have never gone to school (and are older), knowing what sounds are represented by letters, which are then combined into words and later sentences is crucial.
Writing direction matters. Keep in mind that even when students advance in their English learning journey, expect that they may revert to what comes naturally to them.
Teach sentence structure for good writing
The basic sentence structure of the English language is a subject + a verb.
The next step is the subject + verb + object format. For example, I read a book. This sentence type has many varieties but beginning with simple sentences allows the students to internalize the rhythm of the language.
When teaching ESL beginners, keep in mind that other languages may follow a different pattern than translates into English, at least in the beginning.
Here is a great sentence structure activity that can be practiced with students of all ages and grade levels.
Since English follows a strict word order, it is important for us to teach the students parts of speech and where to place them in a sentence when writing.
When teaching beginners – whether it be writing or speaking – we always start with the words that carry the most important information. These are nouns (who?) and verbs (what are they doing/do/did/have done/will do?)
We then move into the descriptions about how things look, taste, smell or feel. These are the adjectives, which add the flavor to both speaking and writing. Adverbs, words that describe a quality of a verb, come later.
That said, practicing parts of speech does not have to be complicated. Every time your students learn new words, you can have a running table that looks like this:
The students can place the words in each of the categories and then use those words in writing their own sentences.
Those students whose language backgrounds are similar to English usually grasp the concept of punctuation and capitalization fairly quickly.
For others, starting writing with a capital letter and placing a period, question mark or an exclamation point at the end might be a novel idea. They may have never learned it, never internalized it or their language has different rules (such as symbols instead of letters).
In any case, explaining the basic rule that a sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a punctuation mark such as a period, etc. will go a long way.
You can then keep the students accountable for that and also build on it. For example, capitalizing proper nouns, doing reported speech using quotation marks and commas. But the basics will already be there.
Beginner ESL students are learning new words all day, every day. Even when they are not presented by you in a list. Utilize their newly gained knowledge by practicing writing!
It is easy for us to get carried away with writing a persuasive paragraph or a 5 paragraph essay.
Writing is a productive skill and takes time. Build students’ confidence little by little, but consistently.
If you are at a loss of where to start with the ESL beginner, check out WIDA CAN DO descriptors for levels 1 and 2. You will see that ESL beginners/newcomers in most grades are able to label, list, communicate through drawings and reproduce content area words.
Writing activities for ESL beginners
Writing about self
This type of writing is the most relatable topic they can write about almost immediately.
Provide sentence frames so they can only plug in single words and phrases (which is where they are at right now)
Provide word banks with nouns and simple verbs (remember the table I mentioned earlier? That should come in really handy now!)
Think about what they like and places they have been to or would like to visit
Here are a few writing topics to consider:
Sports (soccer, tennis, basketball,etc.)
Food/drink (coffee/tea, cookies, water, etc.)
Places (school, home, office, home country, etc.) Check out this activity that can be used for both speaking and writing !
Writing about another person
This activity allows your students to practice writing using pronouns and adjectives as well as the simple verb “to be”.
Students can do the following:
Draw a person and label
Fill-in-the blank utilizing a word bank
Students have the basic sentence starters and use the word banks.
Describe an object
This activity builds on adjective use and expand the vocabulary into shapes, colors and textures.
Like with nouns and verbs, you can have a similar table displayed that they can refer to while writing.
Other writing activities for ESL beginners
The next couple of activities utilize writing a paragraph because the students have already acquired the basics of writing.
Before you embark on writing a paragraph, make sure your students know the paragraph writing format. Here is a full teacher presentation and practice for students to get you going.
A simple paragraph can be about anything, really.
First of all, we need to teach the basic paragraph structure (which is a whole other topic for another blog post).
Topics can vary from favorite time of year to any other theme that the students can connect with.
Note: your students’ age will dictate the topic choices (from favorite teddy bear to my dream car)
Have you ever received a postcard from a friend? I love them! My sister always sends me one whenever she travels and I have them displayed where I can see.
Whenever I travel, I get requests from friends and family for a card from that place.
This is a wonderful opportunity for all age groups to bring their culture and life into the lesson.
You can try a penpal system to allow students to experience real-life writing. It is wonderful to receive a postcard from a place that they think is so distant and unreachable.
Writing an email
Email has taken over many other forms of writing. However, you will be surprised how many people still do not know how to write it properly.
It is important to teach your students that there is a structure to an email, just like to any other form of writing. It does not have to be fancy, but it must convey what the writer wants the reader to know.
I encourage my older students to email me and other teachers with any questions or ideas. It is a fantasti real-life practice.
Thank you note
In America, a thank-you note is something that is expected. In other cultures, not so much. For example, it may be that the students’ culture places higher importance on thanking someone in person right there and then.
However, it is nice to receive a thank you note and as I mentioned earlier, in certain situations in America, it is expected that you will write one.
This is another great real-life writing practice as well as very practical.
I am including a video with even more tips on how you can teach writing to beginners.
Still have more questions than answers? Check out The ESL Teaching Roadmap – from curriculum guides and ready-made lessons to engaged community and personalized coaching => The ESL Teaching Roadmap
How do you teach writing to your ESL students? Share in the comments below!
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Teaching Writing to ESL/EFL Students: Tips and Activities for Any Level
- Linda D'Argenio
- August 19, 2022
Teaching writing to non-native speakers of a language presents a plethora of unique challenges and can feel overwhelming for new and seasoned teachers alike. However, teaching writing to ESL students can be dynamic and meaningful when approached with a bit of ingenuity.
If you’re new to teaching, you’ll want to get initial training and qualification with a TEFL certificate . You can explore our online TEFL courses to get started!
Why is it important to teach writing to ESL students?
In order to effectively participate as contributing members of society, individuals need to be able to communicate their thoughts in written form, whether they are using the English language as their vehicle or not.
Writing is an essential component of productive language, and ELs will need to demonstrate their ability to write in English if they hope to be competitive in a globalized world . Building competency in English-language writing supports reading comprehension, vocabulary expansion, and oral fluency , so there’s so much to be gained. And even if your students don’t plan to use the lingua franca on a regular basis, the skills gleaned from learning to write in another language transfer to all facets of life, making students more aware and more effective communicators in their native language(s) .
Teaching ESL writing aids in self-expression , which might be particularly meaningful for individuals who are hesitant to express themselves verbally. You might have the next Henry David Thoreau or Gabriel García Márquez in your class!
Why do ESL students struggle with writing?
Writing in another language is no easy feat, so it’s only natural that your ESL/ EFL students encounter difficulties when asked to do so.
First, it’s essential to recognize that writing conventions differ from one language group to another . Students from various linguistic backgrounds might declare that writing in English (particularly in an academic setting) is “boring,” something they perceive as formulaic. Often, these students come from backgrounds that value writing in a way that might seem “tangential” to native English readers.
In “Cultural thought patterns in inter-cultural education,” Robert B. Kaplan (1966) put forth a model for examining written discourse patterns, which illustrates how different thought patterns influence how speakers of other languages express themselves in written form.
You can observe that English is illustrated as being very straightforward, which aligns with the directness of spoken English. Kaplan poses here that other language groups tend to branch off in different directions in written form, pulling in supporting elements that might not be directly correlated to the main idea and that present as “off-topic” for native English speakers.
Secondly, it’s crucial to keep in mind that writing requires a vocabulary lexicon that can adequately support sharing . Often, even the most proficient English learners struggle to select the language they need to convey their point. When tackling writing instruction, make sure to consider how you’re supporting vocabulary development to support the conventions you’re teaching.
Lastly (and perhaps most importantly), writing is a form of self-expression, and self-expression through writing isn’t valued the same way in all cultures . There is a great deal of value placed on sharing one’s opinions in the U.S., for example, but this is not the reality all over the world. Some of your students might have been taught that they receive and process information, but that they are not in the position to make statements of their own or have the authority to teach others. Therefore, putting their thoughts down on paper might feel formal, high-stakes even, for your students.
What are some tips for teaching ESL writing?
Regardless of the age and proficiency level of your students, or whether you’re teaching writing in an ESL or EFL classroom, there is a myriad of strategies that you have at your disposal.
Don’t underestimate the value of conducting needs assessments
When it comes down to how to teach writing skills, even if you are teaching a group that is considered a certain proficiency level, recognize that there is always going to be a range of experience and ability present. Spend time getting to know what your students have been exposed to and in what ways before deciding on your approach. Teach to the middle to ensure no one is left behind.
Check out the following sample needs assessment to get started:
Think about how you can lower learners’ affective filters
A large portion of all successful teaching comes from relationship-building. In addition to getting a true sense of your learners’ experience and abilities, try to understand their attitudes towards writing as a process and any challenges that might be borne from those attitudes. How can you increase your students’ comfort level? How can you engage the individuals sitting in front of you?
Check out these 5 ways to build rapport with your students when teaching English.
Think about how the writing task can act as a building block for other assignments
Learning how to write in another language can be intimidating, and even more so if your students don’t enjoy writing in the first place. When wondering how to teach writing to ESL/EFL students, think about how you can integrate writing more often and more seamlessly into your lesson plans. Instead of approaching writing in isolation, teach writing skills alongside other “more engaging” activities that students tend to enjoy more. Have your students participate in role-playing and storytelling activities that require writing but don’t make writing the focus of the activity. This is your chance to be sneaky and get your students to build their writing skills without even knowing!
Present opportunities to examine authentic, written language
Providing students with examples of the target language is non-negotiable, but challenge yourself to move beyond the sample texts in your curriculum where possible. Students might feel bored by the selected works in their textbooks – they need to recognize that written language is all around them. Pull from authentic texts that cover an array of topics that you know matter to your students to keep them enticed.
Try incorporating pop culture into your ESL classroom to spice up writing activities!
Lead with function over form in instruction, and then alter your focus
Students can be discouraged to find their paper covered with red ink, highlighting their fallacies. While it is important to provide corrective feedback, consider the purpose of the assignment before marking up the composition. Was the output comprehensible? Did it touch upon everything that you asked for? Focusing on both function (the purpose of the assignment) and the accuracy in form simultaneously can feel overwhelming. Choose your objectives carefully, make them known to the learners, and provide corrective feedback accordingly .
Choose writing activities that pertain to your students’ learning goals. For example, the following clip, from a BridgeUniverse Expert Series webinar , covers how to teach Business English students to write an email in English:
Consider formative assessment and reflective strategies
Whenever possible, assess student work periodically, examining the process with various checkpoints and iterations throughout, instead of just evaluating the final product. Writing is an iterative process, and students benefit greatly when offered opportunities to reflect on their process. Create opportunities for students to participate in self- and peer-revision processes, which in turn will result in more conscientious and focused writers.
What are some ESL writing activities and lesson plans for beginners?
It can feel challenging to come up with writing activities for learners with beginner proficiency, but with proper scaffolding , writing can be inclusive and participatory.
Try group writing processes in class to get students comfortable
Writers with beginner proficiency might default to a deficit mindset, believing that writing is inaccessible for them due to a dearth of vocabulary or experience, so when you start to look at how to teach writing in the ESL/EFL classroom, your first job is to inspire confidence and get students into a growth mindset. To get them comfortable with the writing process, engage them in group writing activities.
- Choose a familiar topic (or have your students choose a topic together), and explain that you are going to “group-author” a paragraph.
- Have the students share what they know about the topic, and you, as the teacher, act as the scribe, jotting down their thoughts in a central location.
- Continue gathering their ideas until everyone has shared, remembering to emphasize that this is a process and that there is no wrong contribution.
- Examine the individual contributions and note overlap: How can a few thoughts be grouped together? In the process, ask students to elaborate on what they meant and provide examples.
- Organize these preliminary thoughts to the best of your ability, involving the students and getting them to notice organizational structures and decipher between the main idea and details.
- After celebrating what you can refer to as the “first draft,” provide specific and limited ways to improve the piece. Did they include everything they thought was relevant to the topic? Could the paragraph benefit from additional cohesive devices? Do the subjects and verbs agree? Provide ample support in the form of examples, formulas, and sentence frames alongside the piece. Invite students to examine the paragraph and seek out these common mistakes (in partners or individually).
- Create your “final draft” together, and ensure that it’s displayed prominently in the space.
By engaging them in the writing process in this way, you are instilling habits that will aid them in writing autonomously when the time comes.
Make the most of brainstorming – both individually and with others
Have you ever had students tell you that they don’t know what to write? Students, particularly those at the beginner level, need ample time to think about the content before diving into the actual writing process . Emphasize the importance of brainstorming as a way to collect their thoughts and aid them in their writing. Engage students in different kinds of brainstorming activities, going beyond “write down what comes to mind.”
Consider Think-Pair-Share as a framework for brainstorming, where students take time to think independently about the topic, share their ideas with their peers, and then share aloud to a larger group. Typically, the sharing is done orally, but you could also consider the independent writing portion of the activity as “sharing” with a larger audience, just in written form.
What are some ESL writing activities and lesson plans for intermediate and advanced students?
Facilitate a two-way journal experience with your students.
Create a way for individual students to exchange their ideas with you in an informal way with a two-way journal . Have the students maintain a writing journal that you periodically collect to write comments and ask questions. The objective of this exchange is not to formally evaluate your students’ writing, but to gather intel about your students’ progress and connect with them as individuals. Within these exchanges, not only are you building and sustaining rapport, but you are also augmenting critical thinking and meta-cognitive skills with strategies like noticing and annotation.
Cultivate peer revision routines
Learning to write in a non-native language is as much a social process as it is a cognitive process. Involving students in peer revision activities can be incredibly beneficial in that students can learn from their peers (potentially those who are stronger writers than themselves) and develop the ability to think more critically about their own writing. While getting students to effectively participate in peer revision activities requires a lot of frontloading and the establishing of routine, it is the gift that keeps on giving. If you’re interested in facilitating peer revision with your students, consider the following as general guidelines:
- Start by determining your focus for the activity. What are you asking the students to do? Make it clear to the students what you’re looking for, and provide supports that they can use in the process (e.g., a checklist or rubric).
- Demonstrate how students would use the rubric, and go through the revision process as a group.
- Provide sample pieces to examine, and engage the students in discussion around the samples.
- Make sure that students are aware of what is considered appropriate and useful feedback through modeling. Have them practice, and give them feedback on their feedback.
- Monitor the peer review sessions and jump in as needed, ensuring the quality of feedback for all involved parties.
- Reflect on the peer feedback activity in whole-group format, asking students to share what they got from reading their peers’ work, defining areas that they excelled in and areas for improvement.
Once your students feel comfortable with the writing process and the structure at hand, consider different contexts that they’ll be writing in. Perhaps they are planning to take the TOEFL or the Pearson Test of English (PTE) and hope to study abroad, or maybe they’re about to enter the workforce and work collaboratively with others.
In either case, your students will need to demonstrate their ability to communicate their ideas in written form while adhering to time constraints . Plan timed writing activities for your students on a variety of topics and with different parameters. In a standardized test prep context, have students write under the same conditions as the test that they’re preparing to sit for.
Take a Micro-credential course in Teaching TOEFL Test Prep or Teaching PTE Test Prep to help students ace these high-stakes exams.
In a workforce development setting, illustrate a scenario in which an email from management warrants an urgent (and polished) response. In either context, examine the output and discuss strategies that the students used. Student output from timed activities provides fertile ground for examining accuracy in form. Walk students through noticing activities, and challenge them to remember their tendencies in subsequent timed writing tasks.
Teaching writing to ESL/EFL students requires commitment and perhaps a bit of innovation on the part of the teacher, but if done well, it can prove immensely useful in a globalized world, aiding individuals in self-expression and beyond.
In addition to writing, there’s another subject that can sometimes fill teachers with dread: grammar! Here are 7 simple strategies for teaching grammar to English language learners , so you can tackle this topic with confidence .
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How to Teach Writing Skills to Students Effectively in 8 Simple Steps
TABLE OF CONTENTS
As technology advances and the demand for effective communication increases, honing strong writing skills is critical for academic and professional success. However, guiding students to become proficient writers can be a challenging yet rewarding endeavor. In this article, VTJ will introduce practical strategies and proven methods to practical tips on how to teach writing.
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What are writing skills?
How to Teach Writing Skills to Students Effectively
Writing skills refer to the ability to effectively communicate thoughts, ideas, and information through written language. It involves various components, including grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, organization, coherence, and clarity. Proficient writing skills enable individuals to convey their message accurately, concisely, and in a manner that engages and resonates with the intended audience. These skills are essential for academic success, professional growth, and effective communication in various contexts.
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Why is it important to teach writing skills?
- Enhancing reading and writing capabilities: Writing helps students understand the mechanics of language, particularly sentence structure. By engaging with reading materials, students learn how to construct sentences correctly.
- Critical thinking skill: Writing skills promote critical thinking. When individuals write, they must organize their thoughts, analyze information, and present logical arguments. This process enhances their ability to think critically, evaluate evidence, and develop coherent and persuasive arguments.
- Improving language development: Basic writing skills aid students expand their vocabulary, improve sentence construction, and learn to spell words correctly. As they progress, they gain the ability to connect words to form coherent sentences and effectively communicate their ideas.
- Academic Success: Strong writing skills are essential for academic achievement. Students are required to write essays, reports, research papers, and other assignments to demonstrate their understanding of subjects and concepts. Teaching writing skills equips students to excel in their academic pursuits and effectively convey their knowledge.
- Self-Expression and Creativity: Writing skills provide an outlet for self-expression and creativity. By teaching these skills, individuals can explore their thoughts, emotions, and imagination, fostering personal growth and self-discovery. Creative writing allows individuals to develop their unique writing style and voice.
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Types of writing skills
How to Teach Writing Skills? Types of writing skills
Writing skills encompass various aspects that contribute to effective written communication. Here are some essential types of writing skills:
1. Grammar, punctuation, and spelling skills
Grammar, punctuation, and spelling form the foundation of effective writing. Proficient use of grammar ensures that sentences are structured correctly and convey the intended meaning. Proper punctuation enhances the clarity and coherence of written communication. Whereas accurate spelling is essential for conveying ideas accurately and professionally.
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2. Communication skills
Effective writing involves more than just technical accuracy; it also requires the ability to communicate ideas clearly and persuasively. Communication skills encompass organizing thoughts logically, using appropriate language for the audience, and presenting information in a coherent and engaging manner.
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3. Editing and proofreading skills
Editing and proofreading are essential components of the writing process. These skills involve reviewing and revising written work to ensure clarity, coherence, and accuracy. Editing focuses on refining the content, while proofreading involves checking for errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
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4. Creative thinking skills
Creative thinking skills are vital for expressive and imaginative writing. Writers with creative thinking abilities can develop original and captivating stories, poems, and narratives that engage readers on an emotional level and transport them to different worlds.
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5. Reading skills
Reading skills are closely intertwined with writing skills. Proficient readers are exposed to a wide range of writing styles, genres, and perspectives, which enriches their writing abilities. Reading enhances vocabulary, language comprehension, and the ability to structure sentences effectively.
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6. Research skills
Research skills are crucial for gathering relevant and credible information to support arguments and provide evidence in writing. Writers with strong research skills can conduct in-depth investigations, critically analyze sources, and integrate findings seamlessly into their work.
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Forms of writing
How to Teach Writing Skills? Various forms of writing
Writing can take on various forms, each serving a distinct purpose and engaging readers in unique ways. Here are five common forms of writing:
1. Descriptive Writing
Descriptive writing aims to paint a vivid picture in the reader’s mind using sensory details and descriptive language. This form of writing immerses readers in a sensory experience, evoking emotions and creating a clear mental image of people, places, objects, or events. Descriptive writing is commonly used in poetry, travelogs, and creative essays to captivate readers with rich and evocative descriptions.
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2. Persuasive Writing
Persuasive writing seeks to persuade or convince the reader to adopt a particular viewpoint, take specific action, or support a particular cause or opinion. Writers use persuasive techniques and compelling arguments to influence the reader’s beliefs or opinions on a given topic. Persuasive writing is often used in advertising, editorials, opinion pieces, and argumentative essays, aiming to sway readers to align with the writer’s perspective.
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3. Expository Writing
Expository writing aims to explain and inform the reader about a specific topic or subject in a clear, concise, and objective manner. This form of writing focuses on presenting facts, defining concepts, and providing information without expressing personal opinions or biases. Expository writing is commonly used in textbooks, informative articles, research papers, and instructional manuals.
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4. Narrative Writing
Narrative writing tells a story and engages readers through a sequence of events, characters, and a plot. This form of writing can be fictional or non-fictional, and it often transports readers to different settings and experiences. Narrative writing is prevalent in novels, short stories, memoirs, and personal narratives, where the author uses storytelling techniques to captivate and immerse the reader in the narrative.
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5. Creative Writing
Creative writing is an outlet for imaginative expression, allowing writers to explore their creativity and emotions through words. This form of writing encompasses a wide range of genres, including poetry, fiction, drama, and creative non-fiction. Creative writing encourages writers to push the boundaries of language and experiment with different literary devices to craft unique and thought-provoking pieces.
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8 Steps of How to Teach Writing Skills to Students
Teaching writing skills is a dynamic process that requires careful planning and engagement. Here are 8 simple steps to effectively teach writing to students:
1. Choose the Skills You Want to Teach
Begin by identifying the specific writing skills you want to focus on in your lessons. Consider the age, grade level, and proficiency of your students. Whether it’s improving grammar, sentence structure, or creative thinking, having a clear focus will help tailor your instruction to meet their needs.
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2. Assess What Your Students Have Already Learned
Conduct a writing assessment to gauge your students’ current writing abilities. This evaluation will help you understand their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. Individualized assessment allows you to personalize your teaching approach and target specific areas for growth.
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3. Choose Your Writing Activities or Exercises
Select a variety of writing activities and exercises that align with your instructional goals. Incorporate activities that cater to different learning styles, such as group discussions, journaling, creative writing prompts, and collaborative writing projects. Engaging activities foster interest and active participation in the learning process.
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4. Engage Your Students in Meaningful Discussions
Encourage students to participate in discussions about various writing styles, techniques, and elements. Engaging discussions allow students to exchange ideas, learn from one another, and gain insights into effective writing strategies for student. Meaningful discussions create a supportive learning environment that nurtures creativity and critical thinking.
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5. Teach Spelling Skills
Spelling is a crucial aspect of writing that impacts readability and comprehension. Incorporate spelling exercises and games into your lessons to improve students’ spelling proficiency and accuracy. Encourage them to use spelling resources, such as dictionaries or online tools, to reinforce their learning.
6. Choose Topics That Motivate Your Students to Write
Select writing topics that resonate with your students’ interests and experiences. Writing about subjects they are passionate about motivates students to express themselves more confidently and authentically. Personal connection to the topic fosters a sense of ownership and investment in their writing.
7. Encourage Fact-Checking
Instill the importance of fact-checking and credible sources in the writing process. Teach students how to research and verify information to support their arguments and claims. Fact-checking cultivates critical thinking skills and promotes accuracy and reliability in their writing.
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8. Provide Revision and Editing Instructions
Guide students through the revision and editing process to refine their writing and produce polished pieces. Emphasize the value of revising for clarity, coherence, and organization. Teach effective editing techniques to check for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Encourage peer review and self-editing as valuable tools for improvement.
Tips for teaching writing skills
Teaching writing skills can be a rewarding experience for both educators and students. Here are some valuable tips to enhance your approach and effectively teach writing skills:
- Foster a Positive Writing Environment: create a supportive and encouraging atmosphere where students feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and ideas through writing. Encourage open discussions, value creativity, and provide constructive feedback that motivates students to improve.
- Encourage Frequent Writing Practice: encourage students to write regularly, even outside of formal assignments. Journaling, free writing, or keeping a writer’s notebook can help students develop a writing habit and explore their thoughts more authentically.
- Provide Model Texts: share model texts that showcase different writing styles. Analyzing and discussing model texts can help students understand effective writing techniques and inspire them to improve their own work.
- Use Technology to Enhance Writing Skills: integrate technology tools, such as writing apps or online platforms, to enhance the writing experience. These tools can assist with grammar checks, spell checks, and revision suggestions, promoting self-editing and improvement.
- Scaffold the writing process: break down the writing process into smaller stages and provide support at each step. Start with pre-writing activities like brainstorming or outlining, then move on to drafting, revising, and editing. Offer guidance and feedback throughout the process to help students improve their writing skills.
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Teaching writing skills is a fundamental aspect of education that empowers students to communicate effectively and express themselves confidently. By following these 8 simple steps and incorporating writing strategies, educators can create a dynamic and inspiring learning environment that fosters a love for writing and enables students to become proficient writers. These tips on how to teach writing will equip educators with the tools and techniques necessary to guide students on their writing journey.
What are the 5 basics of writing?
5 basics of writing includes understanding and applying the rules of grammar, spelling words correctly, building a strong vocabulary, organizing thoughts in a logical manner, and ensuring clarity and conciseness in their writing.
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Are you a learner at A1 English level (elementary) ? This section offers writing practice to help you write short, simple texts about known topics and fill in forms. Texts include messages, emails and forms.
Each lesson has a preparation task, a model text with writing tips and three tasks to check your understanding and to practise a variety of writing skills. Make a start today.
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A message to say you're late
Learn how to write text messages to tell a friend you're going to be late.
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A noticeboard message
Learn how to write a noticeboard message.
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A text message invitation
Learn how to write a text message invitation to a friend.
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A thank-you email
Learn how to write a thank-you email.
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An application form
Learn how to fill in an application form.
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An email to book a hotel
Learn how to write an email to book a hotel.
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An email to confirm an appointment
Learn how to write an email to confirm an appointment.
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An email to congratulate a colleague
Learn how to write an email to congratulate a colleague.
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Emails about studying in the UK
Learn how to write an email to find out about language courses in the UK.
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Instructions for a colleague
Learn how to write instructions for a colleague.
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Online course introductions
Learn how to introduce yourself on an online course.
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Social media posts
Learn how to write and comment on social media posts.
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7 Basic Writing Lessons Every Teacher Should Teach
8 Tips for Teaching ESL Writing
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One of the ways that ESL students measure their own success is by how error-free their language is. This can make ESL writing, where mistakes are highlighted in bright red pen, discouraging. Students who thought they were doing well and who were receiving praise for their spoken language may flounder when it comes to written language, causing them to disengage during writing exercises.
Why does ESL writing feel harder than ESL speaking for some students?
Mistakes are harder to overlook when they’re written out. When your students speak, they can use gestures and body language to make their meaning clear. When they write, those context clues are missing. Written language tends to be more formal than spoken language as well, with less room for the use of slang or dialectic choices. When ESL students are speaking, they can often make it clear what they’re saying even if they don’t use the perfect part of speech. As a rule, writing is much less forgiving.
How do you overcome these hurdles? In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to approach teaching writing to ESL students that will help you bridge the gap between speaking and writing.
1. Develop Your Lesson Plans
When teaching a subject, your first step should be developing a lesson plan. That’s true for ESL topics as well. It’s a good idea to start by quizzing students on what they already know so you can determine where the lesson needs to begin. You’ll need to gauge what they should know by the end of your time with them. You may have already been given a set of learning outcomes by your school, but if not, you’ll have to come up with your own.
2. Start from the Ground Up
Unless your students have demonstrated they understand a specific writing skill, never assume they know it. Remember that each of your students is coming from a different point in their ESL journey. Start with the most basic concepts and build from there. If some of your students are lagging behind others, consider offering after-hours study sessions to help them catch up.
3. Motivate Your Students
Sometimes, you’ll come across students who seem disinterested in learning ESL writing. Reaching students who aren’t motivated is one of the biggest challenges that teachers face. When you’re struggling to find a way to motivate your students, one of the best things you can do is try to look at the lesson from their point of view.
- Are the lessons too challenging? Consider offering modified homework so that students who struggle can spend the same amount of time on their homework as students who are further ahead.
- Are the lessons not enough of a challenge? Consider asking more out of these students so they stay engaged.
- Do they have a background in failing? Students who are used to failing may choose not to try rather than to fail again. With these students, it’s a good idea to celebrate small successes rather than emphasize failures.
4. Implement Practice
The only way for students to get better at writing is to write. You can lecture your students on techniques until you’re blue in the face, but until they practice those skills, there won’t be a difference. That’s why it’s important to get your students in the habit of practicing their writing daily. Tips for incorporating writing practice into your lessons include:
- Start each lesson by asking students to write a short paragraph to answer a question. The question can be about anything from why they love their favorite movie to what they’re looking forward to doing this weekend.
- Require students to keep a daily journal in English. Grade this journal on completion, rather than on content. This is a great way for students to write about things that interest them without the pressure of perfect spelling and grammar.
- Give students individual spelling lists based on words they misspelled on their latest papers. Pair students off and have their peers read their spelling list to them so they can practice spelling the words.
5. Encourage Them to Write What They Know
When you’re teaching ESL writing, you’re likely to have better participation if you ask students to write about things that they’re passionate about. They’ll love feeling like an expert, and it will motivate them to work harder. This also helps students understand how their writing is relevant to them.
6. Let Them Collaborate
An article published in TESOL Quarterly reported that allowing students to work with peers and review each other’s work can increase English language competencies . As students work with one another, they discuss their writing and are encouraged to revise it. This gives them an opportunity to connect their thoughts and their writing at a deeper level and learn to locate and correct their mistakes.
The key to successful peer reviews is getting students engaged in the editing process. If students don’t care about editing, they’ll just give responses like “It’s good” or “I don’t like it,” which don’t help anyone. Educating your students on the importance of editing sets them up for successful peer reviews and will provide them another will valuable, actionable critiques.
7. Refer to the Three Pillars of Writing
There are three cornerstones of writing that any ESL writing instructor has to focus on: spelling, vocabulary and grammar. Keeping in mind these three pillars of writing can help you find a way to break through when students are having a hard time. Do you need to help them locate the words to communicate their ideas or just help them put the right words down on paper? They’re two different problems that require two different solutions.
8. Incorporate Games
Games are a great way to keep your students both learning and engaged. Here are a few easy games that can help your students learn the three pillars of writing:
Games to Learn Spelling
- Crossword Puzzles
- 20 Questions
Games to Learn Grammar
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