Oral & Written Discourse in ESOL Instruction

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  • 0:04 Discussing Discourse
  • 0:31 Discourse Planning & Delivery
  • 3:15 The Need for Review
  • 4:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
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.

Teaching writing and speaking to ESOL (English to speakers of other languages) learners involves many important components. This lesson discusses how teachers can effectively use oral and written discourse in ESOL instruction.

Discussing Discourse

Imparting knowledge to ESOL (English to speakers of other languages) students can be challenging, but also extremely rewarding. The manner in which you design and deliver lessons can have a big impact on the success of the learning outcomes. To be effective, it's important to create a balance between oral and written discourse. This can be accomplished through a combination of planning, delivering, and reviewing lesson content on a consistent basis.

Discourse Planning & Delivery

If you already have a lesson planning method that works for both you and your students, there's no need to alter it significantly. However, you'll want to be sure that engaging oral and written discourse is a regular aspect of the classroom material you prepare. To begin with, try to plan a variety of activities that will enable your learners to examine oral and written discourse both separately and in combination. Examples of this type of ESOL lesson content can include:


Writing worksheets can help students visualize and practice English writing techniques and provide a means for the teacher to assess student ability and progress.


Writing and speaking games are a great way to get students on their feet and socially engaged. For instance, a game show-style trivia quiz can help students verbally reinforce information while having fun. If you use oral or written discourse games, be sure they include specific learning objectives and that every game is followed by a review of the information students learned or practiced.

Team activities

Activities, such as group writing exercises or peer-editing, provide students with opportunities to observe and learn from the writing techniques and styles of their peers. These activities also encourage collaboration and can help students develop brainstorming and revision skills.

Interactive or media assignments

These assignments can involve the use of video, audio, or the Internet. For example, students can practice oral discourse by giving short oral reviews or summaries of their favorite movies or albums. Also, written discourse assignments can include students writing mock emails, such as for a job or school application, or paraphrasing website articles.

Small group discussions

Group discussions provide a great opportunity for ESOL students to practice the oral discourse skills they've learned. Sometimes giving students a general topic and allowing them to discuss their personal opinions can highlight certain language strengths and reveal weaknesses that need to be addressed.

Student-led tasks

Giving students the freedom to choose their own learning parameters and goals can be beneficial. However, be sure to provide specific guidelines so students know how to frame their ideas. For instance, you could ask students to create oral presentations on their favorite topic or have them write fan fiction based on well-known stories.

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