ESL Writing a Report Exercises

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

Your ESL students are ready to write their first report. This lesson gives you a set of activities to guide your students toward a great report by helping them understand report components.

Step by Step

Are your ESL students intimidated when they hear their next assignment is to write a report? Writing can be as intimidating for ESL students as speaking. For this reason, tell your students that writing is a process, or work they do step by step. Students are likely to be put at ease if they know that you are going to guide them through each step.

Before you begin, ask your students to think about a topic that really interests them. If your students pick a topic of personal interest, this will help motivate them for report writing. Let's begin with the steps now, which we can teach through a practical example followed by a main activity and a follow-up activity.


Report Format Activities

To learn how to write a report, hands-on activities are more effective than just reading reports others wrote. Tell your students that there is no single format for report writing, but that there are some key components a report must have: title and introduction, body paragraphs and recommendations or conclusions.

Before the following activities, have ESL students write a vocabulary list that relates to their topic before they begin their hands-on task. This ensures your ESL students have the basic vocabulary for their report. Later, when students are writing, you can walk around the class to make sure grammar structures are correct as well as spelling.

Title and Introduction Activities

Begin at the beginning: the title and introduction. Present your students with an excellent example on a topic of interest as a model. Find an example and copy/paste it into a Word document so you can project it on the board. Give your students a couple of minutes to read it and then ask them questions like:

  • Does the title get you interested?
  • Is the title too long or too short?
  • Do you get a good idea of what the report is going to be about?
  • Does this introduction tell you what the purpose of the report is?
  • Do you know what to expect from the report based on this introduction?

Once your students give you their answers, you can point out the key elements of the title:

  • Appropriate length
  • Engaging wording
  • Clear statement of the topic

Then, point out the key elements of the introduction:

  • Clear and concise reference to the purpose/topic of the report
  • Clear reference to the main subtopics the report presents
  • Simple and appropriate use of language to engage the reader

Main Activity:

Your students are now ready to write their own title and introduction to the report on the topic they chose. Give students enough time based on their level and assist them by providing them with vocabulary if needed. Even if students do not get your attention, walk around so you can guide students.

Next, your students can read aloud their introductions and the other students can provide feedback by answering the same questions you used for the model introduction. Your students can work then on improving their introductions if needed.

Follow-up Activity:

Your students can continue to practice writing introductions by acting as 'introduction writers' for celebrities or famous people. Give them a sheet with the name of a famous person or expert who needs an introduction for a report on a topic related to the person's expertise. Provide your students with the topic and the subtopics to be presented. For example:

'So and so needs an introduction to a report on the usefulness of robots for household chores. The report will discuss the benefits and the disadvantages of having this type of robot.'

Body of the Report Activities

For this part of a report, you can show your students a couple of body paragraphs that are great. Ask your students what positive qualities the writing has and then point at the key characteristics of good body paragraphs:

  • Concise and clear language
  • Good transitions
  • Organized ideas

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