I'm sure you would all agree that teaching our ESL students writing skills is undoubtedly necessary.
After all, it goes without saying that writing is a way to communicate as well. Business students alone have to deal with emails, reports, presentations, product descriptions and so on. And how about those who study English in order to further their studies in other countries ? They have papers, essays, monographs, exam questions and more yet. This is why helping our students learn to write and sparking their creativity is so important. Creativity makes a huge difference in any and all writing exercises. Though each type of writing has specific techniques and even recommended vocabulary, it is also healthy to exercise creativity in writing. Creativity is vital for success in everything we do is life. Many believe the word "creative" has to do mostly with the arts. But though being artistic requires creativity, it is not exclusive to the arts. Creativity can be present in everything and anything we do. So, let's take a look at some great ideas on how to be creative and some great techniques you can use to encourage creative writing in your ESL lesson.
4 Great Techniques for Creative Writing in the ESL Classroom
There is nothing worse than doing the same thing over and over again. Now, doing that and expecting a different outcome, is much worse. Though in general we can't avoid doing some things over and over again, we can change how we do them. Change is a good thing. It makes us feel alive.
A fun exercise is to tell your students they will be writing a letter of complaint. There isn't a lot of innovation there but you can do this. Have each student think of a problem they had recently and write it down on a piece of paper. Then, take the papers and distribute them making sure to change the papers among them so that they don't get the problem they wrote originally. Ask them to write a letter of complaint regarding the problem they were given. Since it is something that didn't happen to them, they will need to make an effort to describe the problem and make the needed demands.
Think outside the Box
What we all do in general tends to have a certain flow. Though this isn't a bad thing, sometimes what we do creates a pattern. It gets a little too predictable. Don't be afraid to use activities that are a little “out there” . Keep in mind that those are generally the most enjoyable.
Tell your students they will need to write a product description about a product. On a piece of paper, card or even the board write the names of products that don't exist in real life and could in fact be a little ridiculous. Give them a brief summary of what the product does but they have to imagine or make up other features. The products can be things like, a mirror that tells you how you look or a coffee cup that give you information about what it contains.
Things don't always turn out the way we planned. In the world of work , for instance, we often need to make last minute changes to proposals, presentations, reports and so on. Learning how to improvise is important too. Help them keep their minds busy and ready for action.
You can use the following activity to keep your students on their toes. Give them each an email and tell them they have to answer it. When they are done give them a paper with additional information and tell your students they have 3 minutes to make necessary changes to adapt their response email. Doing this will obligate them to look back at their original answer and make quick changes.
Sometimes in life we need to take risks. This is inevitable. We often try to keep things safe and predictable for the sake of our students. However, let's face it, “playing it safe” in your choice of classroom exercises can be murder on creativity. Where writing is concerned, though risks can easily be kept to a minimum by planning your writing ahead of time, it is fun to do some exercises that are a bit risky.
An interesting exercise is to show your students and illustration, picture or even a photo and ask them to write about it. You can ask them to write a story, dialog, or simply a description of what they see. This exercise involves “risk” because although you are setting a context by showing them something, you are not providing vocabulary. They have to do everything o their own. This exercise forces them to tap into their own personal resources. Working with journals can also be a bit risky. Simply tell them to write about their day in a journal. They can do it everyday, or just once or twice a week. Again here they need to make choices on their own. They can be allowed to use a dictionary or not depending on their level.
Being creative requires passion.
Don't forget to be passionate about what you are doing and to transmit that to your students. Inspire them to be creative by being creative yourself. You can't expect your students to love what they are learning, if you don't love what you are teaching.