Teaching ELL Students Expository Writing

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  • 0:04 Expository Writing
  • 1:19 Teaching Expository Writing
  • 2:39 Examples
  • 3:48 Applying Strategies
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Lesson Transcript
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.

Since writing is an active skill, your ELL students may view it as a huge challenge. This lesson gives you some ideas to introduce and promote expository writing skills among your students.

Expository Writing

When teaching English language learner (ELL) students about writing, motivation, or drive, enthusiasm is key, as they often have major difficulties producing spoken or written language. One way to motivate students is to provide them with a simple definition of expository writing, such as:

  • Expository writing allows you to explain or show a topic.
  • Expository comes from the term 'expose', which means you show something through writing.

Accompany your definition with some examples: a magazine article about a product, a scientific article about treatment for a disease, an instructional manual on how to use a cellphone, etc. Then have your students talk about some examples of expository writing they may have encountered in real life. This way, you can correct them if someone, for example, says they read a short story.

Next, discuss the objective of expository writing, which is to inform readers about a product or topic. Ask your students about the advantages of expository writing, such as 'you learn something.'

In sum, a motivating introduction includes a simple definition, examples, and the objective of expository writing. Your students are now ready to move on to the task of writing.

Teaching Expository Writing

Teaching expository writing to ELL students can be more effective if you show them what they need to do, as opposed to just listing the components of expository writing. You could use the following examples or find your own, depending on the level of your ELL class. The idea is to show an example of expository writing that gets students interested. This way, they're not intimidated by the task of having to write when it's their turn.

Introduce and show examples of a thesis or topic sentence. Highlight its importance by describing how the topic sentence tells the reader what the piece is about. In addition, it's a good idea to emphasize that strong topic sentences provide this information in a line or two at the most. Here are a couple of samples:

  • Working dogs are trained to do many things for humans.
  • Milk has many uses in our kitchen.

If you have a topic your students are going to write about, then they can create their own topic sentence on the spot, or if they're going to write about a topic of their choice, they can go ahead and start writing. Either way, you can walk around the class and check on their topic sentences.

Continue by showing students how a writer may present arguments and reasons in body paragraphs that support the topic sentence. Also, tell students that they can strengthen the information by giving examples. Samples illustrations might include the following two.

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