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Want to give your ESL students some extra help with their writing?
AcademicHelp.net may be the answer for you. Read on to find out what this website can do for you and your students.
In a nutshell, AcademicHelp.net offers guides for practically any type of academic or business writing. From research papers to book reviews, term papers to resignation letters, you have access to a wide variety of samples and free writing tips.
For each type of writing task, there is a step-by-step guide, a list of key points to consider, a list of Dos and Don’ts and common mistakes. In addition to the tips, students have access to one to three samples for each type of writing.
Finally, there is a Glossary and an Ask an Expert Q&A message board, where registered users have the chance to ask questions that specifically relate to a particular writing assignment.r
The Low Down
Of particular interest to your ESL students are the Business Writing and general Letter Writing sections. They provide guides and samples for practically every type of writing your students are likely to do in the real world, from a resume or cover letter, to an informal letter.
How can AcademicHelp.net specifically help ESL teachers and students? The types of writing tasks are clearly divided into five main areas: Academic Assignments, which include all types of essays, from descriptive to narrative; Becoming a Student essays, which include admissions and scholarship essays; Business Writing samples, from simple business emails to meeting minutes; Letter Writing, including letters of resignation and complaints; and Creative Writing, which includes tips for writing poems, novels and short stories.
Of particular interest to ESL teachers are some of the Academic Writing guides; if you’re still studying and need to write a dissertation or thesis, you’ll find these guides extremely useful. If on the other hand, you need to write a research proposal, you’ll also find a complete guide and sample that’ll illustrate what your proposal should look like.
Of particular interest to your ESL students are the Business Writing and general Letter Writing sections. They provide guides and samples for practically every type of writing your students are likely to do in the real world, from a resume or cover letter, to an informal letter (there are specific tips for letters for extending/accepting/declining invitations, for example – or how to write a business proposal). The guides specify differences between formal/informal language and the type of words that are appropriate/inappropriate (like slang), all of which is tremendously useful for ESL students who don’t have a great deal of experience in letter writing or professional business communication.
The Creative Writing section is also very complete, but its usefulness depends on the type of ESL students you have. While you may ask them to write a short story as a writing assignment, it is not very likely you’ll assign a haiku or a screenplay.
In my opinion, the Glossary is excellent. Not sure exactly what a white paper is? What about the difference between the meeting agenda and the meeting minutes? The glossary explains each and every one of these terms—really useful for you and your students. Frankly, I had no idea what a capstone project was till I read the definition in the glossary—you learn something new every day!
Also very valuable and of tremendous use are the General Writing Tips, which cover a wide range of issues students may face when writing, things like common grammar mistakes and transitions in writing, or words to avoid in specific types of writing. The tips themselves are really great, very clear and well-written so as to not confuse students.
It is absolutely free of charge
Everything you see in the website is accessed absolutely free of charge. It is a virtual writing encyclopedia, at your fingertips with no registration required. Moreover, there’s no sales pitch (they’re not selling anything), so navigating the site is pretty much painless and easy.
The site is very complete
I can’t think of a single type of writing sample they have left out. Resumes, reviews, case studies, etc… they’re all there, and neatly organized into categories. For each type of writing, you don’t just get a simple list of tips, but a very complete, detailed guide. Honestly, I’m surprised they’re giving away all of this information for free. The guides are quite long, so the quick article navigation menu on the right side takes you exactly where you want to go—fast.
Option to Ask an Expert
The Q&A message board allows you to ask an expert a specific question related to something you have to write; it can be any kind of doubt regarding word use, tone, how to cite sources, etc…The expert answers each question but also includes a link to the guide the person asking the question should check—the expert points the users in the right direction.
A very handy, little glossary
The glossary is simply top-notch. Just the glossary itself makes the site worth visiting. It includes about 80 terms and clearly defines each; it allows you, for example, to see the difference between expository, argumentative, descriptive and persuasive essays.
Only useful for teachers and advanced students
As wonderful as the site is (from now on, it will be my goto reference site for writing!), it is not very useful for the vast majority of ESL teachers and students. As I mentioned earlier, teachers who have to write a dissertation, thesis or research paper will find the guides useful. As far as ESL students are concerned, Business English students will probably benefit the most from the business writing help materials available, as well as advanced ESL students who wish to apply to foreign universities or sit for international examinations.
The Bottom Line
AcademicHelp.net is an invaluable resource for ESL teachers who are also academics and need to get some professional writing done. Advanced ESL students who need to improve their writing and take it to a more professional or college level will also greatly benefit from the resources available. The site may not be useful to most ESL teachers and students, but it seems to be an excellent reference site for advanced or professional writing.
Feel free to check out the website and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Do you think the site could be useful to either you or your current students? Share your thoughts below!