A Helpful Plan to Improve ESL Student Writing
Usually, ESL students find it very difficult to participate in various ESL writing activities and cope with numerous tasks since they lack relevant knowledge and skills. We offer you an effective plan to improve ESL student writing. Following our guidelines, you will help your students become more confident, mature, and skilled. Turn your students into ESL writing wizards!
- Build your lectures on something they may already know.
Do not make your students jump into the world of the unknown information right away. Instead, try to give new information by small portions. By moving systematically, they will be able to understand new material better. Try to teach them to build their writing using the methods and techniques they already know. First, you have to realize that their vocabulary is not unique and contain simple words. Allow them to use these words. Encourage your students to practice in writing on every lesson. No matter if it is a dictation, note taking, or just writing answers on the simple questions – each activity develops writing skills and is very useful for the ESL student`s development. We assure you that after several lessons with these ESL writing activities, you will be impressed by the progress of your students. Also, if you want to help your students to improve their writing skills, building their confidence should become your top priority. Only an individual, who is not afraid of making mistakes may learn fast. Finally, inform your students of the value of writing as an important instrument of communication and explain how good writing skills can help them in the future.
- Teach them to build sentences correctly.
Indeed, forming sentences properly is, perhaps, the most important writing skill because it serves as the foundation of mastering the foreign language at all. Without knowledge how to build the sentences correctly, students will not be able to build their arguments or support their viewpoint. In other words, a sentence is a glue that keeps many other writing aspects together. Therefore, first and foremost, ESL students should learn how to build various types of sentences properly.
So, what is a sentence? Usually, it is a noun and a verb connected to each other with many other additives. To speak figuratively, one can compare the sentence with the entrée on a menu, where are ingredients are listed, but in order to create a genuine masterpiece, they should be combined properly. These unseen details are very important and your primary task as a teacher is to explain these ties to your students. With the help of noun and verb, you can explain the unseen aspects in a very plain manner. However, speaking about culinary masterpieces, sometimes, the overlooked herbs and spices make the dish perfect. As well as in a real sentence, although the noun and verb are important, usually other elements help create a great sentence. Keep in mind that introducing the importance of capital letters usage, quotations, question marks, and punctuation, will significantly facilitate the understanding of the proper sentence structure by students. Overall, students should understand how to build sentences, as it will enable them to express their thoughts and ideas clearly. Being a teacher, you need to think about how to present all this information in an interesting and simple manner. We want to emphasize that using interesting examples, along with the constant practice, will help your students build more and more complex sentences.
Use the following exercise: start writing a sentence on a board very slowly. Let students yell out a noun or a verb that will help to construct a sentence. Once it is written, deconstruct it. Let students guess why an adjective is placed in front of a verb or behind a noun.
As students understand essentials of the sentence structure, explain the importance of punctuation. Let them practice in what they have just learned. Giving the students the dry theory without the ability to apply the rules in practice, you will never reach the desired outcome. Also, you can encourage live communication on the lessons so that students could ask you if something is unclear to them. We assure you that regardless of the age of a student, nobody likes to listen to new material and write it silently. When students are aware of all important aspects of sentence structure, you can allow them to practice in creating various types of sentences filling them out with the interesting details. Help them whenever it is necessary because, in order to implement the newly acquired knowledge in practice, they need to feel your support.
- Teach your students how to build coherent paragraphs.
Once students know how to build sentences properly, it is high time to teach them to organize these sentences in coherent paragraphs. Remember that by teaching students how to organize their sentences into coherent paragraphs, you will give them an important skill that will be very useful in the future. Considering the fact that both of these topics are quite challenging for ESL students, we recommend you to separate lessons of sentence structure and paragraph building. Before moving to the topic of building paragraphs, you have to make sure that all students can build the sentences properly. Otherwise, it will cause many problems with understanding of new material.
First, you need to explain the importance of the topic sentence that gives validity and weight to a paragraph. Usually, it is the first sentence in the paragraph that defines the whole paragraph`s idea. Other sentences will explain the first one. Also, you need to explain to your students that one paragraph should cover only one idea since jumping from one idea to another is rather inappropriate in academic writing. After you explained everything to the students, provide them with interesting texts since they need to see the visual representation of the material mentioned. Indeed, the good visuals along with easy-to-understand tasks should accompany each your lesson. Show the examples of the topic sentences to your students. Besides, helping students build the paragraphs correctly, you can explain the importance of the linking words that combine two sentences together. The following words will help your students organize the sentences in a paragraph properly:
Undoubtedly, these words will help your students make their sentences more coherent. Speaking about helpful instruments in writing, you should also mention transition words such as:
- In addition;
- On the contrary;
Beginning the sentences in a paragraph with the help of these words, the students will be able to impress the reader with a logical flow of ideas.
- Emphasize on the importance of collaborating in writing.
In learning English, the importance of communication cannot be underestimated. We assure you that it will foster confidence and creativity in your students and they will acquire a solid understanding that language is a particularly important instrument for communication with people from different countries. In this regard, we encourage you to let your students openly discuss the writing topics with their classmates since it is a perfect warm-up activity. Indeed, the students find this activity very exciting since allows them to express interesting ideas, generate fun, and understand the value of collaboration.
A great technique: Break up the group of students into pairs, and let them work on various topics together. This technique will help them learn the essentials of brainstorming as the important technique of learning. When brainstorming, they will find it easier to generate brilliant ideas and share them with other students. Also, you can allow your students to work together on some class presentations since it will help them collaborate and share their experiences.
- Help your students choose good writing topics.
When selecting a topic for classes, you need to pay attention to the ones that are concise, effective, and funny for your students, as the topics will greatly influence the atmosphere on your lessons. A good topic will cause enthusiasm in your students whereas a bad one will not let you reveal their potential. Moreover, a good topic will help you make your students a part of the educational process. Therefore, when selecting a topic for your lesson, try to pick up something that will be interesting to your students. As such, students will be able to utilize their personal experience and discuss the topic by mentioning interesting details. Introducing the topic to students letting them discuss it is a very interesting strategy that is applied by many teachers. Giving such a task to your students, you will be able to understand their interests, as well as evaluate their English level.
- Help your students understand the writing structures.
As a teacher, you have a plan to improve ESL student writing, so you should fully realize the importance of a proper structure. Therefore, you understand that in order to acquire necessary knowledge, the student should study according to the certain structure. As such, if you want your students to demonstrate progress, you have to organize the teaching process from the simplest topics to the most difficult ones. When the students are aware of the sentence structure and the algorithms of building the paragraphs, you need to explain how to write the letters, short stories, essays, reports, or reviews.
- Explain the differences between formal and informal writing.
As your students already know the essentials of academic writing, it is time to explain the difference between formal and informal writing.
Some essentials of formal writing:
- Never use slang;
- Stay away from contractions. Write the whole words;
- Learn how to use formal phrases and utilize them in your writing.
Some essentials of informal writing:
- When it comes to informal writing, contradictions are fine;
- You can freely include phrases such as “thanks,” “hey,” “best wishes” in informal writing;
- Idioms, jokes, and phrasal verbs are also appropriate.
Overall, we assure you that making your lessons engaging and creative, you will be able to reach the desired outcome and make your ESL students knowledgeable and skilled. We do hope that our plan to improve ESL student writing will become a helpful guide for you.