Writing activities for beginning ESL students

Report
Writing activities for
beginning ESL students
Jodi Versaw
[email protected]

What do you remember about learning to
write?

What do you remember about learning to
write in a foreign language?
Opening questions

Learning to write…
◦ takes years.
◦ takes practice.
◦ for some (many?) students is a lower priority
than learning to speak.
Learning to write

Education level
◦ no formal schooling; non-literate
◦ limited formal schooling, low-literate
◦ “emergent readers” (writers)
Student characteristics that
influence writing ability

Cultures of origin that value oral
communication over written
communication
Student characteristics that
influence writing ability

Native languages with different alphabets
and writing structure
◦ Russian, Tibetan, Korean – different alphabets
◦ Arabic – unwritten vowels, written from right
to left
◦ Amharic – characters represent consonant +
vowel
Student characteristics that
influence writing ability
Amharic

Brief questions, thoughts, observations?
Learning to write
Writing activities

Complete beginners need to start by
practicing letter formation in English.
They can do this by tracing and copying
letters and words.
Letter formation
Longman ESL Literacy
 Name grid – print out and laminate
 use Comic Sans font; change color to
gray; expand character spacing

Letter formation

Handwriting worksheets

Writing wizard
Letter formation

Beginners with command of the alphabet
need support in creating full sentences.
Basic sentence formation

Teacher-modeled writing

Writing from “mingle” activity

Writing from pictures
Basic sentence formation

Higher beginners who can put words
together into sentences need support and
encouragement to put their own ideas and
thoughts into writing.
Writing original thoughts and
ideas

Free writing – starter question, 5 minutes
to write as much as possible:
◦ What food do you like? What food don’t you
like? Why?
◦ Write about the people in your family. What
are their names? Where do they live?
◦ Write about your kitchen. What is in your
kitchen? What do you do in the kitchen?
◦ Write about yesterday. What did you do?
Where did you go? What did you eat?
Writing original thoughts and
ideas

Journals
◦ Personal observations
◦ Dialog between student and teacher
Writing original thoughts and
ideas

Simple poems – less focus on sentence
structure, more focus on creativity
◦ MLC volunteer curriculum
Beginning ESL: Writing poetry
Writing original thoughts and
ideas

When high beginners have some selfconfidence with writing words and
sentences, they should be exposed to
basic paragraph form.
Building additional skills

MLC volunteer curriculum
Beginning – Descriptive writing
 Intermediate – Personal writing

Building additional skills

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