In an ESL classroom, the emphasis should be and often is on speaking because being able to communicate is the goal of learning another language. On the other hand, the ability to listen, read, and write in English is significant as well. Lesson plans should include all these English acquisition methods as much as possible even while focusing on one in particular.
Here is an example of how you might conduct an effective writing lesson.
How To Proceed With Teaching A Writing Lesson
Students will be spending a significant amount of time sitting at their desks working quietly for this lesson so, especially if you teach children, it is a good idea to get them moving and speaking during the beginning portion of your class. You can play Crisscross to get them out of their seats but perhaps a short interview activity based on the lesson’s theme or as a review of the previous lesson would be better. This way, students can maximize the amount of time they spend speaking and moved around the classroom interacting with other students.
Start out by asking students to say what they know about the lesson’s topic, for example horoscopes, to get some related vocabulary on the board. When they have run out of things they already know, introduce any additional material and do some pronunciation practice of the new words they will be using in the lesson. For some vocabulary ask students to give you a synonym or use it in a sentence. This is a good way of seeing how familiar students are with certain words or how comfortable they are using them. While it is important to focus on the target language you prepared, be sure to include some of the material students contributed in these exercises as well.
At this point you should introduce some key structures. A couple sample questions and answers will give students an idea of how to use these. Before giving an explanation, ask students to translate or explain the examples to you in order to see if they can guess the meaning without being told. Before having students practice this material independently, do some choral repetition for pronunciation practice.
At this point students should think of their own answers to the questions following the structure of the example sentences. They can do this by interviewing one another. Allow students to interview several students as the answers will vary from person to person. Students could also write their answers on a worksheet and then share their answers with one another. This will make them a little more confident when talking with their peers because their answers have already been composed and written down. Hearing the answers that others have come up with, students may have more ideas and want to expand on their own answers so this kind of interaction can be quite beneficial. Before students move on to the significant writing portion of the lesson, ask them to share some of their responses aloud. This will give another opportunity for students to speak and share ideas while allowing you to clear up any remaining confusion.
After all this preparation, students are finally able to begin writing. They have been given a topic, some useful vocabulary, and thought of some answers to related questions which will form the framework of their written work. Ask students to write a certain number of sentences related to the topic you’ve chosen. If students take longer than expected, the homework assignment can be to finish writing.
After making corrections and returning the writing assignments to students, have volunteers read their answers aloud. This way they will practice the corrected material and not reinforce mistakes. If you notice that students struggled with something in particular, do a short activity focused on that point before moving on to the next topic.
There are many other ways to focus on writing in the classroom.
You may not have particular structures that students need to use or even a very specific topic. Students could do writing assignments based on readings or with prompts like “Tell a story about when you were younger.” This example just shows one of the many ways you can give students the opportunity to improve their writing skills.View our "Writing" section here.
How do you teach writing? Please share!