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ESL Writing Exercises & Teaching Strategies

Instructor: Amanda Wiesner-Groff

Amanda has created and taught English/ESL curricula worldwide, has an M.Ed, and is the current ESOL Coordinator for the Saint Louis Public School District.

Writing is an integral part of learning English as a second language; therefore, ESL students must have practice developing writing skills in the classroom. This lesson will provide exercises and strategies for teaching writing to your ESL students.

Teaching Strategies for Writing

While not all ESL students aim to perfect their English writing abilities, it is still very important for these skills to be taught in the classroom. The strategies used for teaching new skills can either make, or break, a lesson. These instructional strategies will help you effectively deliver the content your students need for successful writing skill acquisition.

Lesson Sequencing

You would not expect someone to cook a gourmet meal before that person learned to use an oven; likewise, you should not jump ahead when it comes to teaching writing skills to your ESL students. You want to make sure you work from the basics onward. Within each writing element, strategy, or skill, instruct the appropriate content in the right order.

For example, when teaching the writing process, you would teach prewriting, drafting, editing, revising, and publishing in that order, and not the other way around. Each step in the process should be taught in its entirety before the next step is introduced. This way, students are given the tools they need to successfully navigate through the content being delivered.

I Do, We Do, You Do

When introducing new writing skills or practices into the classroom, aim to incorporate clear explanation, modeling, guided practice, collaborative practice, and independent practice.

  • Explain the writing skill or practice that will be covered. Give reasons why this skill is important, and explain the objectives of the lesson.

  • Model the skill or practice (I do). Talk through the process by clearly identifying all of the steps you take. For example, if you are explaining how to use a graphic organizer as part of the writing process, you should actually model how to complete the organizer.

  • Guided and Collaborative Practice (We do) - Work with students as you complete the skill/practice with their guidance, asking for clarification along the way; then observe and offer guidance when needed, as they collaborate on the skill/practice with others.

  • Independent Practice (You do) - Once students have developed a strong understanding, have them work independently to master the skill/practice.

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