How to Teach Writing Skills to ESL Students

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To teach writing skills to ESL students, incorporate writing into everyday tasks, giving writing practice a function, have students keep a notebook of ideas in English and use writer's workshops. Make writing more approachable to ESL students with help from a writing instructor in this free video on teaching writing.

Part of the Video Series: Writing Lessons
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Laura from, and I'm going to talk about how to teach writing skills to ESL students. One of the easiest ways to begin this process is to think about how you can incorporate writing into everyday tasks. Have students make lists of supplies they need to bring in, or have them list their homework in English... give them tasks with a real function where they can begin to practice writing, and this will help make it more approachable for them. Instead of assigning some sort of big writing project to them, they can begin by labeling things or making lists, and this will really help them to tune in to English writing... give them a chance to really practice in an easy way. A notebook--a writer's notebook--is another good way to get started, where they can just keep a notebook of their ideas or things they've noticed, things they might someday want to write about, and make sure that they're using English in the notebooks, and this will give them more practice. And then when you do come to the point of assigning writing, they'll have somewhere to go to gather an idea. Now, the writer's workshop in ESL class is also a good way to begin to model what that looks like. What does writing look like? What does giving feedback look like? What does doing a draft look like? So, writer's workshop is a model where students are writing and then meeting one-on-one with another writer in the group and getting some feedback on their work. So this can be a good way for them to practice their English conversation with each other--giving feedback in English and also helping them to improve their writing. Think about other forms that you can use when you do begin to make assignments... things like songs, songwriting or comic book writing, different things that you can really make it a little bit more fun for them try out their writing. The illustrations can help them begin to express ideas as they're becoming more comfortable with writing. Continue to also look for topics that they'll be really interested in, things that they can really feel like an expert when they're writing. So, by doing some of these things that make it more comfortable and a little bit more approachable, you'll make it a little bit easier and more enjoyable for your ESL students to begin writing. So those are some ideas about teaching ESL writing.


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