Developing Writing Skills - TESOL


Engaging Learners and Levels

To engage students and to set up work correctly, the levels of the learner must be taken into account. The following exercises range from beginner to advanced. 

- Copying / Gap Fill - Learners practice forming letter shapes in a handwriting book. Learners could also note down substitution tables from the board copy examples from a textbook. Some learners might enjoy this and learn quickly from it, but not for all. 

- Single words/phrases - Learners write single word phrases, sentences etc in response to very tightly focused tasks with limited options and limited opportunities for creativity or getting things wrong.

- Guided writing – A teacher could guide their learners to write longer sentences. These will be restricted or controlled tasks in content. This is achieved by offering samples, models, possibly useful language items, advice, and organisational frameworks. Templates could also be provided for learners. 

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Engaging Learners and Levels

- Process Writing/Interactive Writing - Learners write what they like, but, with help and support not only from the teacher but from peers as well. Feedback from the teacher would also be beneficial throughout the process, including gathering ideas, organising thoughts and drafting. This could also be used for homework - learners could pretend to write for a magazine or a leaflet on a topic that is relevant to them. (Page 196 Harmer has good examples)

Unguided writing – Learners write freely without overt guidance assistance or feedback during the writing process. Learners receive feedback later. 

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Social Media and Everyday Life

When social media and such became more popular there was a huge increase in writing, for example, Facebook/Messenger, Whatsapp, Snap/chat, E-mails, Line, and the list goes on. As Scrivener states "Whether this growth and popularity will continue as new technology offers easier, cheaper and faster video and voice connections is not clear." 

On the British Council website under "LearnEnglishTeens", there are many tasks and questions referencing social media websites. Although these tasks are not aimed towards writing, a teacher could adapt them to be of use. The website also levels the possible tasks in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF or CEFR). These tasks are mostly aimed towards B1 learners. 

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Learner-Centred Writing Tasks - Scrivener's exampl

Writing Real Letters/E-mails: Writing letters or emails that will actually be sent to the intended reader, if a reply comes back, another letter could be written and so forth. 

Publishing Newsletters, Magazines or Handouts: Creating a small publication could create more motivation for learners to want to write, could also be on topics that interest the learners. 

Advertisements: Learners could create advertisements for a local paper, local town or school. Posters could also be used here for younger learners wishing to be creative. 

Comments, Replies to Discussions or Reviews to Websites: This could once again peak an interest in learners. One could also post to a message board or discussion board. 

Questionnaires: Learners could write a questionnaire about something happening in their local town or something similar. The results could then be written up and published. 

Long-term Projects: A class could create a book or file together by the end of the year. 

Applications: Filling in application forms for different events or jobs could be very useful to the learner in the future!  

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Learner-Centred Learning Tasks - Scrivener's examp

All examples given here and the previous note can be found on page 196 of Scrivener's "How To Teach English". 

Some specific examples:

- Write a guidebook entry about your hometown

- Write feedback and evaluation of a new product.

- Fill in a car-hire booking form

- Write and design computer presentation slides.

- Write an academic essay summarising arguments for and against a viewpoint.

- Write a poem about your strongest childhood memory. 

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Correcting Student' Writing

Something that Mike did not ask us to study but still found it interesting. This is from the British Council website: Through using this code, learners are able to start correcting their own work, once again improving their English. 

Correction code:

SP - Spelling Mistake

WW - Wrong Word

WO - Wrong Word Order

T - Wrong Tense

PR - Wrong preposition 

PU - Wrong Punctuation

/ - Missing Word

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Bibliography (2018). Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) - English levels. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Jan. 2018].

English Grammar. (2018). Gap Filling Exercise. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Jan. 2018]. (2018). social media | LearnEnglish Teens - British Council. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Jan. 2018].

Scrivener, J. (2016). Learning teaching. London: Macmillan Education.

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