ESL Intermediate Writing Activities & Exercises

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.

Writing is an invaluable academic, social, and professional skill, especially for English as a second language (ESL) learners. This lesson provides teachers with intermediate level ESL writing activities and exercises designed for students of different levels and abilities.

Writing Basics

Incorporating intermediate writing activities in an English as a second language (ESL) classroom requires students to combine a variety of language skills. It's precisely because of this need to utilize so many skills that writing exercises can be such an invaluable component of the English learning process. While some students may groan at the thought of a writing task, there are plenty of ways to make writing activities fun, engaging, and informative.

One effective way to motivate and encourage ESL students is to allow them to take initiative and demonstrate creativity. The activities and exercises outlined below have been designed to accomplish this goal. Don't forget to increase or decrease the difficulty of the exercises in order to meet the needs of your ESL learners.

What Happens Next?

This exercise is an ideal way to begin a lesson. To prepare, you will need to copy and paste the following text and print one copy for each student.

  • Jane and Judy were sitting in the living room when they heard the doorbell. Jane's mother went to answer the door. The girls couldn't hear what was being said at the front door, but they both guessed it was somehow about them. A moment later Jane's mother called into the living room, ''Come to the front door now girls!'' Jane and Judy looked at each other and then…

After you distribute the text, give students some time to finish the story in any way they desire. Finally, collect the stories to review or ask for volunteers to share their endings with the class. (Extend this activity by having one student write the beginning of a story and another student write the end.)

Heroes in Profile

In this activity, each student will write a profile of someone they personally know and admire.

  • Ask students to brainstorm a list of three people they admire; these should be people they know. As part of the brainstorming process, students should list a few reasons why they admire and/or respect each person.
  • At the end of the brainstorming session, ask students to select one of the three people and write one or two paragraphs about that person. The paragraph should include:
    • Who the person is
    • How the student knows that person
    • Why the student admires that person
    • Why other people might like the person
  • Collect the paragraphs for assessment or ask for volunteers to share their hero profiles with the class. You could also ask them to include a picture or drawing of the person in the profile.

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