ESL Group Story Writing Games & Activities

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Group writing activities can be a great way for ESL (English as a second language) students to share ideas and constructively interact. In this lesson, teachers are provided with group story writing games and activities designed for classroom use.

Group Writing

While speaking is the primary language skill on which many ESL learners focus, it's also important to stress just how essential it is to be a competent and confident writer. Some ESL learners are hesitant or even averse to writing, but if you engage them with informative and fun activities, they may be more receptive to developing this valuable skill.

One great way to accomplish this is through the use of group writing activities. These types of activities have several advantages.

  • Shared responsibility can increase participation.
  • Group collaboration leads to the sharing of ideas.
  • Teamwork helps to improve personal relationships.
  • Cooperation teaches invaluable interpersonal skills.

The games and activities outlined below can easily be adjusted to fit the level and needs of your learners. Before undertaking any of these exercises, be sure to clearly outline both the steps and the intended outcomes and explain how these activities contribute to the overall development of strong and lasting English skills.

Writing Chain

This small group activity will allow students to build off the ideas of their classmates. Begin by writing an appropriate topic on the blackboard. For example, for beginning-level students, try topics like 'my favorite animal' or 'my favorite season.' Next, put the students into teams of three. Tell the first student to write the first sentence, which should be a topic sentence. Then the first student should pass the paper to the second student, who should add a detail sentence and pass along the paper to the third student, who should add a concluding sentence. For example, if the topic was 'my favorite animal,' the students could write:

'My favorite animal is a dog. Dogs are friendly and fun. I hope to have many dogs in the future.'

For more advanced students, you can increase the difficulty of the topic and the length of the answers. You can also vary the activity by having each student in the group write their own topic sentence and then trade papers with a group member who will add the supporting sentence and then on to the third student who will add the conclusion.

Make the Story Your Own

In this exercise, one student will write a short paragraph in pencil about something they did or a place they went. If students are having trouble thinking of a topic, feel free to write a few suggestions on the blackboard such as 'What I did this morning' or 'My weekend plans.'

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