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How To Teach The Basics Of Writing to ESL Students

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It’s not a secret that learning a language is difficult even though there are already so many people in the world who can speak at least two languages. English is by far one of the most popular languages to learn which is why there are so many ESL learners.

But what about those teaching these students? How does a teacher approach teaching English as a second rather than a first language? And more specifically, how do you teach writing? Here are some tips to use.

Is English More Difficult for Older ESL Students?

One of the biggest factors that influences how fast a person can learn a language is their age. Obviously, kids can learn a language more easily, especially if they are immersed in the right environment and surrounded by those speaking the said language. Older students, on the other hand, may have a less flexible mind making it harder to learn a language.

This, however, doesn’t mean that older students can’t learn a language. ESL students of all ages can be successful with their students, but this success often directly relates to how good the teacher is. If you are persistent with your teaching and try to find the best approach to every student, you will likely succeed.

Why Is Writing Important?

As Cameron Morgan from the custom writing reviews site Online Writers Rating puts it, “Writing is one of the most essential elements of learning a language along with reading, speaking, and listening. All four are important, so a good teacher must make sure that all four are being taught to their students. When one aspect is less developed in a student, others will suffer as well.”

When a student practices writing, they start understanding English better. Writing can also help students improve their memory and perfect their vocabulary and grammar skills. Writing is also a mental activity which means it develops the brain and helps students learn the material faster and on a deeper level.

What Should Students Be Aware Of?

When you are teaching ESL students, there will be many things you will have to explain to them in great detail. Likewise, you need to tell your students to be particularly aware of certain aspects of writing when practicing it, including:

  • The purpose of their writing and the audience that will be reading their work.
  • The thesis statement or the main idea of their writing as well as the evidence or arguments they provide throughout their writing to support this idea.
  • The language they use, whether technical or general.
  • The coherence and cohesion of the piece they are writing.
  • The organization and the flow of their writing, including the pacing.
  • The types of sentences they use the way these sentences are structured.
  • The editing and proofreading of the text after writing it to eliminate any errors.

What Should Teachers Be Aware Of?

On the other hand, you as a teacher should also be aware of certain aspects of the writing process as well as the texts your students produce. Here are some of these things to note:

  • Focus: Whether it is an essay (expository, narrative, or descriptive) or something else, the student needs to establish a specific focus. This main idea needs to be specific, and the writing needs to have a clear purpose depending on the task at hand. Moreover, as the writing progresses, there should be consistent and logical reasoning that backs up this idea. At the end, the student needs to have a conclusion that summarizes everything they talked about.
  • Organization: Similarly, a good piece of writing needs to be properly organized. Sentences need to be logical and should develop the ideas and topics mentioned in the sentences before them. These sentences should make paragraphs that discuss a topic relevant to the general idea of the text. The paragraphs should be linked and should progress in a thematic, chronological, etc. way. The text should have a clear introduction and conclusion.
  • Argumentation: The claims the student makes or the opinions they put forward need to be supported with appropriate argumentation such as statistical or factual evidence, examples, and so on. The student should also address counterarguments and possibly disprove them.
  • Style: The student should use an appropriate style for the task at hand. The tone of their writing and their word choice are both essential for this. It’s also a plus if the student displays originality in their word choice (or argumentation). Correct language is important too (e.g. spelling, grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, capitalization, etc.)

With all this in mind, you should start teaching ESL students the basics of writing first. These basics include the alphabet, parts of speech, sentence structure, punctuation, and capitalization.

If the students already have a big enough vocabulary and enough grammar knowledge, it will be much easier to teach them writing. In other words, those who have mastered conversational English to an extent will be more likely to master academic writing faster. Ultimately, all four parts of language learning need to be developed.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, teaching the basics of writing to ESL students requires teachers to be patient and find the right approach to every student separately. That being said, there are some best practices that you can use for all ESL students, no matter their age or background. Hence, use the tips in this article to help you effectively teach writing to ESL students.


Author bio

Frank Hamilton has been working as an editor at essay review service Writing Judge and an author at Best Writers Online. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German and English.

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