ESL writing activities are important because they teach students to express their thoughts and use arguments so they can support their points of view in English. Therefore, it is important to do ESL writing exercises not only as homework, but also as a classroom activity. In this article, we will outline some interesting ESL writing activities that are suitable for interactive work in a classroom or while teaching ESL online.
These are some of the best ESL writing activities:
Most of your students should be familiar with Twitter and tweets, so it can be a good starting point for an ESL writing exercise. Encourage students to write short tweets on the given ESL writing topic. You can even create a Twitter account for your class where the learners can share their thoughts. By the way, recently Twitter has exceeded the number of characters per post from 140 to 280, but still you can stick to the old 140-character format and maintain the conciseness.
Emails are the main source of communication between people around the world, and that’s why email writing is a key to effective communication. Explain to your students the difference between formal and informal emails, outline the structure and vocabulary, and encourage the students to write their own emails. They can write emails to each other based on a specified topic, such as organizing a surprise party for a friend’s birthday.
Writing Ads and TV Commercials
Advertisements and commercials are a great example of creative writing, so they can be used as writing activities for ESL students. Give your learners some sample ads as well as typical expressions that are used in advertising, and then ask the learners to create their own ads. You can bring some familiar objects to the classroom and tell the learners to advertise them. The students can work solo, in pairs, or in groups. For even greater creativity, encourage them to support their ads with images. For example, they can cut out those images out of newspapers or magazines, or print them from the web. Bonus points go to teachers who have their students present them as pitches for an extra speaking activity.
This ESOL writing exercise focuses on ability to detect and correct mistakes in an already written text. One of examples is to give the students a letter from an “imaginary friend” who does not speak English very well and has asked you to correct his or her letter. Each line of the letter should contain at least one mistake, which the students should identify and correct.
Collaborative ESL Writing Activity
Ask your students to write a story together. Each student should write a sentence and pass on the sheet to another student, who should continue the story. In the end, someone can read the story aloud. Such activity can both train the writing skills and spice up your ESL writing lessons, making them more fun and exciting. If you’re Teaching English as a Second Language online, you can go back and forth with the student and drive the story toward the vocabulary you’re focusing on.
Play an association game with your students: tell them a word and ask them to create an association chain for it, i.e. to name the association with each next word. For example, airport – travel – holidays – fun – party – night – moon – space, and so on. When the association chain is ready, ask the students to write a story by using all of these words.
During this ESL writing game, you should write an essay together with your students, but in a slow-paced manner, sentence by sentence. When writing, you will teach them the typical essay structure, such as introductory, supporting, and concluding sentences. As a result, your students will not be afraid of long essays, as they can easily break down the essay structure into smaller chunks.
Image-Based Story Writing
For this ESOL writing practice, you should mix up cards with various images in a bag or basket, and then ask each student to take three random images. Then the most interesting part starts: the students should write stories that involve each of the three depicted objects.
How-To Instructions Writing
During this ESL writing exercise, you should ask your students to describe how something works in the form of a step-by-step procedure. Of course they should describe the functioning of simple objects from daily life, for example, a toaster. Another option is to write a recipe of a simple dish, such as scrambled eggs or cornflakes with milk.
Shortening The Texts
Give your students a bulky text overloaded with long expressions and ask them to shorten the text and remove everything that seems odd, thus making the text clear and concise. You can shorten one of the texts together with the students and then have them work in groups or pairs.
We hope that our examples of writing exercises for ESL students will help you liven up the writing activities and turn them into an exciting adventure. Good luck with the next lesson plan!